Photography 101: Viewpoints, Vertical vs Horizontal Framing

One of the most common mistakes of beginning photographers is the way the camera is held. Most amateur photographers shoot pictures from a horizontal angle; that is, they hold the camera with the shutter button facing up. No matter you watch any Gold Coast Family Photographer or newborn baby photographer, they all follow the same pattern.

Filling the Frame
Photographing a subject with a vertical frame gives the photographer a better chance to play with the picture’s point of view. Although digital editing has taken a lot of the necessity out of framing, the quality of the raw image should still always be considered first.
By filling the frame of the photograph, the photographer uses all his available space to capture as much detail as possible. This ensures the detail is there in the first shot, without any additional editing, enlarging or sharpening. Often this can be as simple as zooming into the subject or by moving closer.
Why Shoot Vertical?
Shooting the picture vertically provides better framing for the picture and reduces the need for cropping later on. The key is focus. A vertical frame gives better focus on the central subject. Although everyone’s idea of what exactly focus means is different, the key most beginning photographers should remember is: living things.
That’s right. The focus should be alive; preferably a human but animals and plants are acceptable. Most living things in nature are small enough to observe without turning the head. In practical situations, that would mean only shooting in vertical at all times, unless for some reason the subject requires a horizontal frame to fit inside the picture.
Where a horizontal picture frame would feel constrained or unfocused, a vertical image provides an ample view of the sky, the earth, the subject and nothing more. It is about visual impact. A tall, bold image is simply more powerful than a short, squatty image and if a horizontal shot can be substituted with a vertical shot, by all means, it should.
Why Shoot Horizontal?
Exceptions would be landscapes, group or team photos or inanimate objects such as buildings. For example: a picture of the Great Wall of China would be better taken in horizontal for obvious reasons.
Although usually reserved for inanimate objects, the choice of shooting in horizontal is ultimately up to the user. Consider what a wider picture adds to the subject. Does a horizontal shot add more to the picture? Does it add too much and make the image lose focus? Is the subject’s background a vast landscape, or is it a tall tree?

However: when in doubt, shoot vertical first.

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