Looking over my photos, I have found that the photos I like enough to showcase are all taken in landscape orientation, with few to none taken in portrait orientation. In a way, this is somewhat natural - our eyes "see in landscape", as our horizontal field of view (~200°) is much larger than our vertical one (~130°).

Are there known methods or exercises to improve one's ability to "see" and compose photographs in portrait orientation?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Can you post some example photos in landscape orientation and why you decided to choose this orientation. \$\endgroup\$
    – null
    Sep 3, 2016 at 11:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is completely a matter of taste. I too prefer more of my photos in landscape orientation but when my wife looks at the same photos, she prefers those in portrait orientation. \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Sep 3, 2016 at 19:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting question, but I think it's based on a false premise. Our eyes see mostly in black and white, too, but that doesn't mean we perceive the world that way. Perhaps it's more that our world is landscape oriented, because gravity. Or perhaps it's that our cameras have landscape-oriented sensors and it's most natural to hold the camera horizontally, so candid shots are taken in that orientation more? It's hard to say without some real evidence. \$\endgroup\$
    – Caleb
    Sep 4, 2016 at 16:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh my... @Itai I always had the feeling you were a woman. n_n the name sounds very elegant. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rafael
    Sep 5, 2016 at 13:51

3 Answers 3

  1. Practice framing. Look at your existing photographs and review what the picture is telling. Which elements in the picture help conveying the message and which blurry it. If you find things that make the picture less strong or distract the viewer, try masking them out or darken them and review the picture again. Try doing this with all pictures you show/print for a while. The side effect is that you start seeing the clutter at the time of shooting and frame selectively already in the camera.
  2. Practice composition and design. Once you learn how to stay away from distracting elements in your pictures by better framing, learn how those useful elements interact with each other. Each shooting situation offers multitude of compositional options. With some training you will be able to pick what works best for your style and for the message you want to convey in that particular photograph.
  3. Vertical vs. horizontal orientation will somehow come out automatically.

Literature that should help:


The answer to this is the same method you would use to improve your landscape orientation photography - take more photos.

It's quite common for photographers to practice by restricting their choices. Often this is restricting choice of lens or subject, but there's no reason that you couldn't do it for orientation as well.

There's no subject matter which can ONLY be shot in a particular orientation, so whatever your preferred subject, you should be able to try different orientations out. However you may want to try specifically selecting subjects which lend themselves to portrait orientation: people, architecture, abstracts are all good choices, but there's many others.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Take more photos is always the answer, but I'm sure photography instructors must have more specific answers. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 3, 2016 at 10:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nbubis they probably have more specific answers about how to improve photos of a specific subject matter or style, but 'portrait orientation' photography is too general to offer tips about how to look at a scene. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 3, 2016 at 10:42

Look at other photographers' work. Compare it to your own to see how to improve.

One general rule of thumb is to use portrait orientation for tall vertical subjects, and landscape for shorter wider horizontal subjects.

Practice a lot.


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