Horizontal vs Vertical

Shooting Horizontal vs Vertical Images

Last Updated on June 22, 2020 | In Rules of Composition by Stefano Caioni Leave a Comment

Last Updated on June 22, 2020

What should I choose between Horizontal vs Vertical photos. Have you ever asked yourself this question?

What are the differences between horizontal and vertical photographs? And when should you shoot vertical photos vs horizontal photos?

Horizontal vs Vertical

We’ve discussed the difference between portrait vs landscape orientation and the different meanings of the terms. Today I want to delve deeper into the choice of horizontal and vertical photos orientation, to help you out understanding when to use one vs the other in your photography.

Let’s dive in.

Horizontal vs Vertical

First of all, let me point out that, knowing exactly when to use horizontal vs vertical orientation in your photos is key to have a greater control over the message you want to communicate with your images.

Horizontal vs Vertical

Yes, because they have different psychological effects and are more or less adapt to different photography styles and situations.

Horizontal Photos

The horizontal photographs, also called between the world of photographers as landscape format, are those images have a size superior in width than in height. These types of photographs are standard, as all cameras are pre-designed to take photographs horizontally and not vertically.

Horizontal vs Vertical

This distribution of predetermined parameters of the cameras, whether professional or of sporadic use, is given by the nature of human vision. The human eye naturally, has a wider vision in horizontal and peripheral format. This is quite logical given the anatomy and position of our eyes, as they are placed next to each other horizontally.

Horizontal vs Vertical

In addition, many experts have already confirmed that the human eye moves naturally by making horizontal movements, that is, from left to right and vice versa. This is because through these movements and the natural distribution of the anatomy of the face, people are able to record much more visual information horizontally than vertically.


It’s important to notice that, electronic devices such as TV screens and computers, that we use in our day-to-day lives are also designed to display the image in a landscape.

Only recently, with the rise of smartphones, we are transitioning from a predominance of horizontal images to more and more common use of vertical images, especially on social media.

Vertical Photos

Vertical photographs are those that are bigger in height than in width. These types of photographs also called among the most experienced as portrait photography. Vertical photographs are images with less capacity to capture visual information.

They, in fact, tend to focus on a particular object or person and thus highlight it against the whole set of elements that can accompany it.

portrait photo girl

When a photographer needs to focus on a particular object or aspect of a scene, she will instinctively rotate his camera and put it in a vertical format so that the lens can be selected more naturally and easily.

Therefore, this type of photography is so common among portrait photography that it always seeks to highlight faces in front of background details.

As mentioned earlier, vertical photos have started seeing a wider adoption since the rise of social media platform such as Instagram and Pinterest. These web platforms have a wide adoption of mobile users and as you know modern phones have vertical screens.

Horizontal vs Vertical

Hence, shooting a landscape scene in vertical orientation is common among photographers that intend to share that particular photo on social media and take advantage of the screen orientation to make their image look bigger.

When to Use Horizontal Photographs


So when should you shoot horizontal photographs?

  • In landscape photography, to achieve panoramic images with a lot of details.
  • When the subject you want to photograph is moving in the horizontal direction.
  • When we want to create images with high resolution so they can be projected on electronic devices with horizontal screens.
  • When you want to apply the rule of thirds to create a dynamic image.

When to Use Vertical Photographs

Let’s see when to use vertical photographs vs horizontal instead:

  • When the subject to be photographed is taller than wide.
  • Shoot vertical photographs when the target is moving vertically.
  • To focus the attention of photography on a particular aspect and reduce the interest in the background of the image.
  • To bring a greater sense of movement to the image in the vertical direction.
  • When you take a portrait photo and want to highlight details in the facial expression of the subject.
  • When the final image is going to be shared on Instagram.

Horizontal vs Vertical: Main Differences

runner vertical image

Visual information and details

Horizontal photographs are used to capture larger images, generating a greater sense of space and visual information. Vertical images, on the other hand, restrict our viewing range, remove information and focus it on a specific area or object. They focus on detail to highlight aspects of the image that with horizontal photographs we would not be able to see clearly.


The horizontal photography is easier to do, since all the cameras are designed to shoot photos in this format, while the vertical ones force us to modify the direction of the camera.


Vertical photography has lower quality than horizontal photography. When the image is centralized, information is lost, so when viewing vertical photographs on devices such as computers or televisions ( whose natural reproduction of the images is horizontal), we will notice that the quality is much lower than a horizontal photograph.

Should You Shoot Horizontal or Vertical Images?

After analyzing in depth the characteristics of each type of photography, we have to solve the following question: which is better?

The answer is neither simple nor unique.

Horizontal vs Vertical

As a photographer, you will have to choose which of the following frames is the most suitable for your photography. It really depends on the message you want to convey when making it. There is no better option than another, everything depends on the story you want to tell.

You’ll keep facing the challenge of choosing appropriately between horizontal vs vertical format so that the natural direction of the image you photographed and the story you want to transmit with it, are in line.

Depending on the lens you use, its focal length, and aperture, you will need to analyze which is the best option to better capture the essence of that snapshot. It’s not about habits, but to know how to interpret every occasion.

See more example of horizontal vs vertical pictures here.

In Conclusion

I’ll pass it over to you now.

What is your favorite photo orientation? Horizontal vs vertical?

Will you try to shoot a landscape in vertical orientation or will you experiment with a portrait in horizontal format and apply the rule of thirds?

Let us know in the comments below!

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