March 16, 2016
Composition Tips for Square Format Photography
Square aspect ratio in photography is not a new thing. Rollei created the first square format camera way back in 1929. Hasselblad, Holga, Polaroid, Kodak and others followed with their own versions of square format cameras. And yet, despite this established history, square format photography is relatively new to *me*. As an enthusiastic wide-angle, big-landscape photographer, I’m always naturally attempting to fit as much beauty as possible in every frame. Bigger, wider. Cropping? No way. Square format didn’t hit me over the head until 2012, when I fell in love with Instagram. And was “forced” to fill my grid with squares. Until I became enamored with squares. And decided that even if I could use a horizontal or vertical images, I would choose instead to be a “purist” and use ONLY squares.
So what have I discovered in two years? Square format is remarkably different than horizontal or vertical (portrait) format. It’s somehow simpler. It’s symmetrical. Your eye “reads” through it in a circular motion, as opposed to side-to-side (horizontal format) or up-and-down (vertical format).
I’ve had to learn a couple new tricks to create stronger square images. The very simplest trick, ironically and surprisingly, is the very hardest for me to embrace and incorporate: putting the subject right smack dab in the middle of the frame.
CENTER YOUR SUBJECT
SIMPLIFY WITH NEGATIVE SPACE
This trick is an old friend of mine, and it works just as well in squares as it does in other formats: simplify through using generous amounts of “negative space”, pushing your subject to corners and outer limits …
FILL THE FRAME
Alternatively, simplify by filling the frame … Look to eliminate distractions.
USE DIAGONAL LINES
Diagonals (implied or implicit) have serious impact in square images…
Leading Lines are pretty swell, too.
IT’S OK – and totally not boring - TO GO AHEAD AND CENTER YOUR HORIZON
it works nicely with the symmetry of the square. The square gives everything a perfect balance.
STRAIGHT-UP SYMMETRY WORKS , too…
SIMPLE GEOMETRIC PATTERNS or REPETITIONS ARE BEAUTIFUL IN SQUARES
For whatever reason, the strong shape of the square seems to complement and accentuate other shapes within it.
REFLECTIONS, SILHOUETTES, SHADOWS
are, of course, fabulous in any format …
I hope what I’ve learned in my pursuit of creating stronger square images can in some small way inspire you to create amazing squares!
Posted by Skeller