Shooting Square Photographs – Avoiding The Obvious

In a recent post we talked about square photographs, and I mentioned I’d be exploring them more in the coming days and weeks.

Which I have been.

Something that’s I’m finding interesting with squares, is trying to find compositions that aren’t the obvious ones. 

With 1:1, often I’m drawn to shapes and compositions that naturally fit. Such as squares and circles, or collection of objects together in a square or circular arrangement.

For the following photograph, my first attempt was rotated 45 degrees, so the outer edges of all of the books almost perfectly aligned with the edges of the frame.

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But that didn’t seem to make for a very interesting or dynamic image.

So I shifted the composition through different angles until it did appear more interesting (at least to me), and also severed parts of the books, instead of including them whole.

In the next shot, again trying to line up edges proved unsatisfying, so I got lower, closer, and at a more exaggerated angle. 

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Again, I feel it makes the photograph more appealing.

It also made the reflected (and curved) pencils in the vase on the right far more prevalent in the image overall, where this would be lost shot further away and more straight ahead, or directly from above.

A final square shot for now, and again a similar trick – getting close and shifting the angles to get away from obvious vertical and horizontal lines. 

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Incidentally, all three images were made with Ricoh GRD III with an in-camera cross processing set up. You can read more on this in my recent post on my colour quest.

How about you? How do you shoot differently with square photos? What sort of compositions and subjects does it encourage you to look for and capture?

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking.

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9 thoughts on “Shooting Square Photographs – Avoiding The Obvious”

  1. Hmm, as I already said, I like the square format on my phone as it allows me to hold the phone in one hand and naturally make a photo. But using the phone in this format made me see differently, made my vision square… Hip to be Square as some said before.
    As you rightly say, square format makes my frame closer, makes me use diagonal lines and often avoid the horizontal and vertical stuff. It’s quite liberating… as far as phoneography goes.
    Now in order to shoot square on film I’d need a medium format camera… who knows, one day perhaps.

    1. Hey you could start with a Holga? Have you ever tried one?

      I quite liked it when Instagram was square only, it was something that set it apart. Shame they stopped it.

  2. Funny, I have a post on square photos queued and ready to go this week.

    I find that square is great for capturing big skies and deep foregrounds. It’s also especially useful for filling the frame with a single flower.

    1. Look forward to your post on squares Jim!

      Somehow a square gives you more scope to show a great deal of sky or sea/land, depending where you place the horizon. It can have more of an impact than a more typical 3:2 or 4:3 landscape shot.

      And yes I agree about flowers, mostly because they are generally quite circular, so naturally fit inside a square without much dead space around the edges.

      1. well, i shoot with Olympus OMD for about 4 years, so 4:3 is what is default and i use almost all the time….to use whole potential of sensor

        thought i had square period, of course…
        .

        1. It makes complete sense to make use of the whole sensor. You might have seen in another thread I was (and still am!) confused as to why my Panasonic Lumix GF1 has a 4:3 sensor (it’s also Micro Four Thirds) but the screen is 3:2, and if you change it to 4:3 you get black bars either side of the display. I assume at 4:3 the camera does use the whole sensor.

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