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Is "vertorama" a real photography term, or is it simply something that people use to describe a vertical panorama? I never thought that panorama was limited to horizontal landscape oriented images, but is it? In other words, is every wide-angle horizontal image a panorama and every wide-angle vertical image a vertorama, and are they mutually exclusive or not? Further, is hororama or similar a term?

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I think it will be fairly soon. Dictionaries are living documents, they record words as people use them. From @mattdm's answer, clearly people are using the term. –  Pat Farrell Jan 13 '13 at 2:54
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I think it remains to be seen; dictionaries are relatively conservative and not every neologism makes the grade, particularly if it doesn't appear often in print. –  mattdm Jan 13 '13 at 4:44

2 Answers 2

up vote 12 down vote accepted

A panorama is, in its original usage, a wide angle horizontal image. In fact, it's a horizontal image painted in a complete circle around a room. That was in the late 1700s, though, and by the time the idea got to photography, it had been watered down to some degree, generally describing any image with a field of view greater than 100º, and then eventually any really wide image at all. Through that same elasticity of language, it's clearly come to encompass vertical images as well, and continuing in that vein, there's not a clear-cut answer to your question.

On the one hand, "vertorama" is clearly a term people use, and it's pretty easy to understand immediately what's meant. It's hard to argue that it's "not a real term" when there's 12,000 pictures in a Vertorama flickr pool; simply pragmatically, it's a real enough term for that.

But, is it a term with a legacy in photography (or the English language!)? For that, I turned to Google Books search, and couldn't find a single use before 2010. And in 2010, there's this:

Vertical subjects are naturals for vertically oriented panorama (some people now refer to such images as "vertoramas" but we prefer simply "vertical panorama"). – Real World Digital Photography, by Eismann, Duggan, and Grey

That's not particularly a ringing endorsement of the term, and what's more, it's the only book I find indexed that uses it. So, I'd say:

  • It's a term people clearly are using and enjoy. It's clearly understandable, and maybe catchy and even clever if you're into that sort of wordplay.
  • But it doesn't have a long history or broad acceptance.

If you are the sort of person who enjoys newly-invented portmanteau words, I'd say feel free to use it, but don't be surprised if others view that as a bit ecccentric.

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As a postscript, I think hororama is right out. It sounds silly and isn't immediately understandable. It's unnecessary, as panorama captures the meaning already. And, as far as I can tell, you're the first person to ever use it in a context other than a badly-spelled horror film marathon. –  mattdm Jan 10 '13 at 4:03
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Great research. I saw the question and thought WTF? but did a Google search to find this used in a number of places but it is clearly not as popular than panorama, so this can be used to your advantage if you want to showcase that kind of work. –  Itai Jan 10 '13 at 14:33
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@Itai — great point. In art, being eccentric is not necessarily a bad thing. –  mattdm Jan 10 '13 at 14:36

A word created by combining two or more existing words is called a portmanteau, and they're quite common. A few examples that come to mind: Spanglish, Franglais, brunch, frenemy, motel, prosumer. It remains to be seen whether vertorama is useful or catchy enough to see widespread adoption, and it's surely not an acceptable Scrabble word yet, but I wouldn't hesitate to use it when it fits.

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I understand that photography has it's own nomenclature, and a "word" can be anything commonly used. I was more interested if it historically is used or has very limited use on the internet, as well as it's relation to panorama. –  dpollitt Jan 11 '13 at 3:13

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