In the olden days, with my film cameras it was always the rectangle - 35mm, 6x4.5 and 6x7cm. I always found 35mm too long and often cropped to fit 8x10 – a more pleasing rectangle. Not sure why I never got a 6x6cm camera, but the rectangle ruled back then!
Then moving to the Panasonic Lumix Four Thirds system several years ago I found I could experiment with aspect ratio at will and increasingly used the square format option. Almost without realising it became my favoured shape for my photos. It felt concise, no wasted space and strangely calm – none of that frenetic eye movement charging around the image!
Here’s one of my early successes with the Lumix from the spring of 2011:
Ironically, we usually close one eye when we take a photograph!
Binocular vision also adds depth to an image whereas the square relies on shape / form.
I’ve aimed for a sort of stillness in my images and the square format is ideal. It feels like a calmer more meditative way of looking and I’m sold on it.
Having said that in my book ’23: La Creuse’ (self-published in 2016 – still a few copies available in the store on the website!) I used a mix of square and 16:9 ratio (panoramic tv screen style). It felt like the intermittent use of panoramic images added to the rhythm of the book but the majority of images were shot square – only one older one cropped down from a rectangle. (Answers on a postcard!)
(And ‘23 : La Creuse’ can be previewed at:
So, it’s horses for courses really. Most DSLRs still emphasise the standard 3:2 image ratio and most images are made in this format, but I am convinced that the square format suits my work really well.
And it just goes to show you can teach an old dog new tricks!
Check out Square Magazine - the online magazine for square format photography:
And here’s a recent one from a recent foray into my ongoing BS3 project: