What’s so great about the square file format in photography? And how can shooting square compositions assist your photos?
In this article, I’m going to share 6 important reasons to use the square format. And by the time you’re done, you’ll fully appreciate the value of square photography!
Let’s get started.
Square versus rectangular photography
And these different views lend themselves to different sorts of compositions.
Therefore , composition in the square (1: 1) format is a different process than composition inside a standard 3: 2 or even 4: 3 rectangular body.
Is the square format always better than a wider format? Absolutely not. Occasionally you’ll want to shoot using a 3: 2 format, for example, or a 16: 9 structure (especially when you’re coping with wider or longer scenes).
But the sq . format is definitely very favorite by photographers, and I highly recommend you keep it at the back of the mind when out shooting.
Let’s check out why the square file format is so great, starting with:
1 . Square compositions feature balance and flow
A sq . is a perfectly balanced form. Each side is the same in length. Therefore , neither the vertical nor the horizontal direction is emphasized.
Why does this particular matter? Well, in a rectangular frame, the viewer’s eyes is encouraged to move laterally (in the landscape format) or up and down (in the particular portrait format).
But in a square frame, with every side equal in length, the viewer’s eye is encouraged to relocate, not from side to side or up and down, but in a circle . This creates visual circulation , always a good thing within photography.
Naturally , there are many factors that influence the way the eye moves in regards to photo, including the use of
In the panorama below, composed with the three or more: 2 aspect ratio associated with my 35mm camera, the eye is encouraged to move from side to side, thanks to the shape of the body (as well as the horizontally lines):
But in this square format photo, the eye is encouraged to move around the frame in a circle:
Useful, right? It’s especially important when you’re dealing with near-far compositions (as in the shot above) and also you want to push the viewer from foreground to background and then to the foreground again.
repayments The square format gives the perfect amount of negative space
Negative space is the term used to describe any empty space around a subject. For instance, if you photograph a barn surrounded by a snowy field, the field will often constitute negative space.
Now, it’s common knowledge that you could improve your compositions by getting close to your subject – that is, by eliminating negative space. However when used carefully, negative space can create a wonderful sense of atmosphere. And it can also help emphasize the shape of the niche (i. e., the positive space ).
Unfortuitously, negative space can be somewhat finicky. Including lots of space in a rectangular frame may not turn out so great, as you’ll end up with too much space and not enough focus on your subject. But negative space often works very well in the square format, as I demonstrate below.
Here is a photo of a lizard in the 3: 2 aspect ratio:
And here is the same photo cropped to a square:
Which do you prefer? The square format supplies a more balanced composition – featuring lots of negative space, yes, but also a powerful splash of positive space.
3. A square will force you to simplify your compositions
The square format lends itself to a simple approach. It pushes you to pare down your compositions and make every element count.
Why? While there is less room in a square frame than in a rectangular one. So before you include another element in the frame, you’re forced to ask yourself: What’s really necessary? And exactly what do I do without?
Generally speaking, creating a simple composition is hard – but after a bit of time dealing with the square format, you’ll find it becoming easier and easier.
Remember: for your photos to have impact, you should eliminate as much distractions as possible. The focus should be on your subject. Other unnecessary elements within the frame will simply pull the viewer’s eye away from the subject and reduce the strength of the image.
This photo is about as simple as you can get:
And the square format forced me to keep the strong, simple, in-your-face composition.
4. The square format works great with shapes
Take a look at the images below. How many shapes can you see?
There are dozens – circles, squares, diamonds, rectangles, and more.
Now, shapes tend to look great in photographic compositions. They help stabilize and balance the frame, and they also can create powerful, eye-catching scenes.
And the square format really lends itself to shape-based compositions.
Why? I’m not completely sure, but I think it’s because the square is such a powerful shape that it emphasizes other shapes within it. This really is linked to the ideas of balance and simplicity, as discussed above – simplifying the composition emphasizes shapes, which often makes shape-based compositions better.
Whatever the reason, just know that geometry looks great in square photos. So if your plan is to shoot (or crop) square, the more shapes, the better!
5. You can create beautiful square centered compositions
Photographers tend to avoid positioning the main subject in the center of the frame. And in most cases, this can be a good idea. As the rule of thirds points out, off-center compositions are the way to go.
But did you know that centered compositions actually work well with the square format?
It’s true! With square photography, you can often place the subject in the center of the frame for an effective composition. You can ignore the rule of thirds. And you can get some very unique photos.
Centered compositions work specially well when the image is straightforward. The fewer distractions contained in the frame, the far better a central composition becomes. If the subject has a strong shape, the balanced empty space around it emphasizes that shape. And the square format provides the perfect frame:
6. The square format works beautifully with black and white
Take away color and what do you get? An image that relies on tonal contrast for impact and that emphasizes visual elements such as lines, textures, and shapes.
In other words:
A composition that looks amazing in a square format.
Honestly, the square format and black and white seem made for each other, which perhaps explains the square format’s popularity with fine art photographers.
So the next time you’re shooting in a square format, consider switching to your camera’s monochrome mode. You’re bound to capture some stunning photos! Alternatively, you can shoot in color and convert to black and white in post-processing (it can be helpful to switch back and forth between color and black and white to see what works most readily useful for your shot).
Square photography: final words
Now you know all about the power of the square format – and why you should absolutely try using the 1: 1 aspect ratio in your photography.
It doesn’t matter whether you shoot with the intention of cropping to a square, or you go back over your old images with the purpose of making some square compositions; the important thing is that you have fun with the process, and that you appreciate the usefulness of square photography!
Now over to you:
What do you think about the square aspect ratio? Do you use it usually? When does it look best? Share your thoughts in the comments below!