You’ve probably heard of photos and prints being referred to as portrait or landscape orientation—don’t worry if you haven’t, we’ll be going over it briefly in a moment—but in which situations should you be photographing in a portrait or landscape orientation? And what about printing? How do you know your portrait photo won’t be printed in a landscape format? Keep reading to find out!
Portrait vs. Landscape in Photography
Although portrait photography and landscape photography are two different types of photography, when it’s being referred to as a format, layout, or orientation, it has nothing to do with photographing people or nature. Portrait orientation is when a photo is composed so that it’s taller than it is wide; conversely, a photo that is captured in a landscape format will be wider than it is tall. Images captured in portrait orientation are sometimes called vertical photos, while landscape images may be called horizontal photos.
Simple, right? But when should you shoot in one format or the other? To help you decide, you should consider the subject you’re photographing.
Portrait photos—as in, actual images of people—are typically composed vertically because the human form, when in a sitting or standing position, naturally includes vertical lines so the image is more aesthetically pleasing when the camera is framing the subject to mirror those lines. If you think about the horizontal layout often used in landscape images, the same is true: the camera is framing the natural horizontal lines of the horizon, ocean waves, hilltops, etc.
Related: Using Leading Lines in Photography
Other instances where you may want to consider shooting in portrait orientation is when you want to put emphasis on the size of your subject to help illustrate growth, authority, strength, or dominance. For example, if you want to capture a photo of trees or tall buildings, composing your camera vertically and filling your frame with your subject will have a stronger impact than if you were to compose your shot horizontally.
Aside from capturing actual landscape and seascape photos, positioning your camera with a horizontal orientation is worth considering if you want to highlight the vast space or scale of a subject compared to its surroundings. In our previous example, we suggested photographing a tree in portrait orientation to help put emphasis on its size, but if you were to photograph that same tree from a distance in landscape orientation, that tree suddenly looks quite small and you’ve created a photo with a whole different feeling.
Don’t be afraid to capture photos of people in landscape orientation either. Following the rule of thirds, you can position your subject so the image includes some negative space, and even adds some context to the photo.
One other reason you might want to consider capturing photos in a horizontal landscape format is they will be easier to crop for printing, if need be. Take this photo shown below, for example. The original is formatted horizontally, but if we want to print it in a portrait orientation, it can be easily cropped. If we started with a portrait layout where the subject filled the frame, it would be impossible to crop it so it was a horizontal image without losing the majority of the photo’s details.
Portrait vs. Landscape Printing
Now that you have a better understanding of the differences between portrait and landscape photo orientation, let’s look at how they compare when printing. Just like in photography, portrait and landscape printing is simply referring to the orientation the print will be created and displayed as.
But is it 16”x24” or 24”x16”?
Regardless of whether you’re looking for portrait or landscape printing, the dimensions of the print will always have the smaller size shown first. So, for example, you would choose 16”x24” for a portrait or a landscape image. When you upload your photo to the Posterjack website, our system will automatically recognize the photo’s orientation. You will then be provided a preview of what your print will look like and have the opportunity to crop or rotate the orientation of the photo so it’s exactly how you’d like it.
Portrait & Landscape Prints on Display
We absolutely love seeing your Posterjack prints on display! We’ll leave you with a few examples that some of our awesome customers have shared. If you’d like a chance to see your photo art featured on our website or social media accounts, please feel free to share them on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter and tag @posterjack so we can check them out! (You can scroll to the bottom of this page and click on any of the social media buttons to go directly to our pages.)