Our cameras all seem to be built for a “Horizontal Priority”. By that I mean that the most natural way of holding our cameras results in a horizontal photograph. At first, turning the camera to take a vertical photo doesn’t seem natural. But fortunately, with practice, it becomes a natural movement, too.
There are many photographs that become more effective, and pleasing, in the vertical format and I want to show you a few examples.
The first horizontal is of the Ferry Terminal in San Francisco with a tram making a station stop. It’s ok, but you can see that the clock tower is cut off.
Here’s a case where the vertical is a better shot, as the tower looks more complete.
I took the next two photos of sculptures in Belem, Portugal and, surprisingly, they are of the same horses. The vertical really wins out here as the trees in the horizontal add nothing and getting low to frame the horses against the sky shows them off so much more effectively. And, how about those black birds we see only in the vertical.
The next photographs are of the same waterfall in South Carolina. Waterfalls, by their shape, usually cry out for vertical shots, but here’s a case where either way works pretty well. I prefer the horizontal in this case.
Finally, I show you a scene in Shutterfly headquarters, Redwood City CA that calls for only a vertical. Horizontal just wouldn’t do justice to that stairway (Shutterfly staff claim they climb it, for exercise, in place of the elevator).