If you’ve ever wondered why the photo you took on your iPhone doesn’t reflect the beauty of what you’re staring at, it probably has something to do with the way you’re holding your phone.
For most of us, it’s a natural instinct to pull out our phones and take a picture while holding it vertically since that’s the way we normally hold our phone when using it for anything else.
But more often than not, that doesn’t make for great photos (unless you’re using Snapchat, which requires users to take photos and video vertically).
Chances are, you’ll get a much better photo if you hold your phone horizontally.
That’s partly because of the simple fact that when you shoot a photo horizontally, you have the ability to capture much more of what you see. It gives you a wider canvas instead of forcing you to squeeze everything into the narrow confines of your vertical iPhone screen.
And then there’s also the rule of thirds.
This basic principle of photography breaks an image down into nine different parts by separating it by thirds both horizontally and vertically.
The resulting grid becomes a framing device that gives photographers four points of interest where the lines intersect each other. The goal is to get the important parts of the photo to fall as close to these lines and intersection points as possible, because studies have shown that these points are where the eye is drawn to first when someone looks at a photo.
Placing the important parts of the photo at these points also provides for a more balanced photo. Sure, you can turn this grid to fit over a vertical photo, but chances are, you’ll center the subject of your photo in the middle of your vertical screen, which means it will fall into the spaces between the grid lines, which isn’t where you want it to be.
Here are a few horizontal photos that successfully use the rule of thirds:
Here are what these photos would have looked like, had they been taken vertically:
There’s a big difference. Yes, more skilled photographers can break the rule of thirds and capture stunning vertical photos, but amateurs should stick to horizontal. Plus, if you’re set on a vertical shot, it’s much easier to crop a horizontal photo into a vertical photo than it is to crop a vertical photo into a horizontal photo.
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