Portrait vs Landscape

Portrait vs Landscape | What’s the Difference?

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Portrait vs Landscape in photography can have different meanings.

Whether you are an amateur photographer or an expert, you are probably familiar with these terms.

These two words are commonly used in photography to describe various aspects of a photograph. 

Notably, portrait vs. landscape can be used to refer to the page orientation of a photograph, the genre of photography, or the camera mode that is used when taking a picture. In some cases, these definitions may overlap. For example, a portrait can be shot in landscape mode, or a landscape photograph can be captured in portrait mode.

lanscape photo

As a budding photographer, therefore, you need to understand these terms, and how they are applied in the art of photography.

Gaining a better comprehension of portrait vs. landscape will greatly improve your skill as a photographer, and open up new channels for your creativity. If you have been struggling with the concept of portrait vs. landscape, this post is meant for you.

We are going to demystify these concepts to help you gain a grasp on how they are applied in general, and how you can employ them in your own photography practice.

Page Orientation

The terms landscape and portrait are commonly used to refer to the orientation of a page or image like described here. This particular usage of these terms is not limited to photography. As a matter of fact, portrait vs. landscape is used when printing documents.

landscape photo in portrait orientation

When it comes to image orientation, the term landscape is used in relation to an image that is wider than it is tall. In other words, it is an image that is captured in a horizontal layout. On the other hand, a portrait refers to an image that is taller than it is wide. This means that it is shot in a vertical layout. 

While there are no fixed rules when it comes to portrait vs. landscape orientation as applied to photography, there are several factors that can help you determine the best orientation for a particular subject.

These include the dimensions of the subject, cropping, and presentation. You should keep in mind that the image format you choose will impact the manner in which your viewers perceive your image.

It is therefore important to carefully think about the effect or result you intend to achieve. This will help you make an informed choice when composing your images.

Portrait vs. Landscape as Genre

The terms portrait vs landscape are also used to describe particular genres of photography. When these words are used in this context, the page orientation of the image does not matter. 

Basically, portrait photography is a genre that involves creating pictures of human subjects. The purpose of portrait photography is to capture the personality or disposition of the subject using effective lighting.

This genre has existed throughout the history of photography and remains very popular today, with many photographers employing modern technologies to shoot subjects in controlled environments such as photo studios. 

Landscape photography, on the other hand, is a genre that focuses on capturing inanimate subjects in the wider world. Some of the most popular subjects in this genre of photography include mountains, lakes, forests, city skylines, and other landscapes.

The aim of landscape photography is to capture images of the greater outdoors in a way that brings the viewer into the scene. It typically employs the use of tripod stands and wide-angle lenses. 

As mentioned earlier, portrait vs. landscape genres are not particular to specific image orientations. Therefore, it is not unusual to come across portraits that are taken in landscape orientation or images of landscapes that are shot in portrait layout. As a photographer, therefore, you should feel free to experiment and find what works for you. 

Portrait vs. Landscape as a Camera Mode

The other way in which the terms landscape vs. portrait are used is in relation to the camera mode used when capturing images.

Most digital cameras and modern DSLRs usually come with a feature that allows you to select the camera mode depending on the subject you are shooting.

When you choose portrait mode, the camera automatically applies pre-programmed settings that are suitable for shooting portrait images. It might automatically increase brightness and fill up the frame to enhance the appearance of the subject that you are capturing. 

On the other hand, when you select landscape mode, the camera interprets this as an intention to shoot an outdoor subject. Consequently, it makes several adjustments, such as increasing the depth of field in order to create the right conditions for a landscape image. 

While the pre-programmed settings that come with these modes are useful for amateur photographers, they do have their own share of limitations. As a serious photographer, therefore, it is much better to learn how to shoot manually and adjust the conditions according to your needs.

This ultimately offers you greater freedom and allows you to capture images that match your creative vision.

Landscape or Portrait Which one to Choose? 

Now that we have demystified the concepts landscape vs. portrait, you may be wondering which of the two is more advantageous or appropriate when it comes to photo shooting and presentation.

The truth of the matter is that there are no hard rules when it comes to choosing between landscape and portrait. It simply boils down to your vision and what you desire to achieve. 

The fact that most landscape images are shot in horizontal orientation and portraits are captured in vertical orientation has to do with the way in which we perceive these subjects in our mind’s eye rather than conventional rules. As a photographer, therefore, you are at liberty to use landscape and portrait in whichever way you feel serves your vision best. 


In Conclusion

While the concepts of portrait vs. landscape are familiar to most photographers, few people often realize that they refer to several different factors in photography practice.

So, while landscape vs portrait are used in relation to the orientation of an image, they can also be used to refer to specific genres of photography as well as the camera mode employed.

Having a thorough grasp of these concepts will not only help you become a better photographer but also give you the extra creative spark and inspiration that you have been looking for.

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