Forward to the past.

There was once a time, back in the far off days of analogue photography, during the 50s and 60s, when the square format photograph reigned supreme, it was only cut short by the advent of affordable 35mm compact cameras in the 80s.

And now, although the digital age of photography has been blamed for all manner of evils, it has actually been responsible for a revival of this particular format as the success of Instagram just goes to show.

A square format breaks the usual rules, it eliminates the dominance of longer horizontal or vertical lines  which encourages the eye to travel from side to side or up and down with the now more usual rectangular format, instead the eye moves around the image in a circular manner, gravitating towards the centre, any lines then offering a little respite from this natural inward spiralling movement.

Obviously not everything is a suitable subject for this format, but therefore others that often get rather lost in a rectangular format are perfect for it.

Some examples illustrating the technique

Tips for when on location

  • Casual snapshots often look much better in a square format and post-process vignetting works particularly well.
  • The subject can quite happily be placed dead-center in the image, the usual rules such as the rule of thirds can often be ignored.
  • Simple geometric shapes such as circles, squares and triangles work very well inside the square format as does much portraiture.

© Andrew James Kirkwood – 2017

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