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Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

Changing Shape

It is easy to allow the shape and dimensions of an image to be dictated by the constraints of the particular photographic format that is being used. That is to say that many images are presented as squares (for 6x6), 3:2 rectangles (for 35mm) and so on. Sure, we crop a bit here and there, but most often still retain the same basic shape. Sometimes, however, an image seems to call for something totally different.


Copyright Howard Grill
Taken In Downtown Pittsburgh

This image was shot digitally in 35mm format, but a 3:2 ratio just didn’t seem to convey the feeling I was aiming for. A severe vertical crop seemed to come much closer to the mark. After allowing the image to dictate the crop, it was clearly no longer in a standard format but the shape seemed much better suited to the image.

I realize that one could view this image as merely a vertical panorama, but the process of working with it and ultimately settling on this presentation made me wonder about how using non-traditional shapes might make images more expressive. One sees, for example, portraits of people presented in an oblong shape, but not very many other types of images are done that way. What about a portrait of a tree presented in that fashion. What about circular or odd shaped images…how might the shape of an image be a useful adjunct to expression? It might be an interesting and perhaps useful exercise to look through some old images with that thought in mind.