Photography: Portrait or Landscape?

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A photographic terminology note from Bob.

Photography: Portrait or Landscape?

There appears that there is some confusion about the two photograph formats, Portrait and Landscape, and this short entry is an attempt to clarify the terms.

Both terms were born way back in history by the artists in their studios in Europe.


King James I of England

In the years before the photograph, if you wanted a picture of your loved one, you hired an artist to paint a picture: "A Portrait"!

Canvas was expensive, so most were depicted from the waist up, so the finished work of art was higher than it was wider, or similar to a sheet of A5 paper of today.


Blue sky, green hill, and a wide horizon, by bobstafford

For those who had more money and wanted a view of their 1000 acres or a scenic view of the world, the choice was for a painting wider than higher, simply to get as much of the view on the canvas.

So that explains the origin of the terms that have been adopted by photographers of today to classify the two most popular photography formats ever: the Landscape and the Portrait.

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