Which way to hold the Camera


Basic digital photography tips

As an amateur, most people will pick up the camera and hold it in the typical lateral position for nearly every shot. This “landscape” orientation often produces very acceptable images but in some instances, turning the camera on end for a “portrait” shot is the better choice.  For those with very limited experience with their digital camera photography the decision as to which orientation to use can be confusing.

Certainly, photographers can get quite creative and take shots of people at a variety of angles to provide greater interest. Experimentation is not to be discouraged.  However, for more reliable results, the traditional orientation of portrait or landscape is typically recommended for beginners.  Which way the digital camera should be oriented generally depends on one of two things: the subject’s position or the movement of the subject.

One of the basic rules of photography is to focus on the subject and to reduce the appearance of other items in the frame which will distract from the subject within the image. Sometimes orienting the camera differently will allow the photographer to eliminate the distractions without stepping in closer or cropping the image later.   During the first years of my business most of my individual shots were take portrait.   I feel like in the last few years this has changed a lot.  I probably shoot more landscape shots today than portrait shots.   When I I doing children photography or newborn photography I love to take extreme closeups landscape.   One of the reasons my style has change could be because of multimedia and social media.  I love making slide shows of my wedding photography to be displayed on Facebook and YouTube.  These shows can be a lot more impressive if they have a lot of horizontal pictures.

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Another example would be in nature shots. If the subject of focus is a single tree, a portrait orientation would be effective in reducing some of the extraneous objects to the left and right of the subject. On the other hand, if the subject to be captured is a gradually sloping mountain or the front and side of a covered bridge, a landscape orientation would be more appropriate.

The movement of the subject is the other factor that should be considered when determining which way the camera should be held.  If the subject is moving left to right, a landscape orientation is more often the optimal choice but if movement is upward or downward, portrait orientation often works best.

For example, if the subject of a picture is to be a dog walking along a line of rail road tracks and the photographer wishes to capture the movement looking down the track off into the horizon, a portrait orientation best demonstrates the movement.  However, in the same scene, if the aim is to show the animal moving horizontally, versus off into the horizon, a landscape orientation would be preferable.  In this case, it is not only the subject but the direction of movement of that subject that determines how the image will be best captured.

These are just a few guidelines which can of course be violated with great success.  Have fun with both vertical and horizontal compositions.  The sky is the limit to your creativity.

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