black and white · Photography

Square peg in a round hole, really?

There’s something about square photos which I have grown very accustomed to. As many of us testify to, whilst pandering to our daily schedules we think less about carrying our DSLR’s to every rendezvous planned that day and rely more on our trusty iPhones. They’re small, offer no-frills functionality (no aperture/ISO/shutter speed setting) and simply take what you see. Some of my favourite photos were taken “quick-as-a-flash” and just before a moment evaporated: a kid on a tricycle squealing with delight, two monks walking to worship at Notre Dame, a man looking straight at me but straight through me. All with an iPhone in which the square format is an option.

I started using Hipstamatic about three years ago and found that using a certain lens and film, what I saw with my own eyes was very similar to what the end photo looked like. I also found that I began losing interest in 4:3 photos. They seemed to have less energy than my square photos. Or perhaps it’s something else. Perhaps it’s the challenge such a tight space presents, and how you search to truly capture the energy of a composition when faced with such tight dimensions.

Walking in Twos2

I’m not saying I’ll take square photos forever but they really do capture my eye. They remind me of some of the earliest film cameras that were medium format and which produced square photos. I love that historical link. Secondly – and this may sound more strange – I like printing my photos 12 x 12″, the same dimensions of a record album of which I too am a fan given my love of all things analog. Moreover, some of the most amazing artwork was produced on album covers.

And there’s one final point. I’d argue that the way you physically look at a square photo is different to a rectangular image: with the former, the motion of your head is more circular because all sides of the photo are equal, with the latter you tend to look left to right.

Despite poor weather, I’ve managed to get out a little and try some shots using the Live View mode and my Canon. It’s kind of interesting but will take a bit of time to get used to. Mind you, it will be worth it in the long run: larger resolution and file sizes, the photographic version of a WAV file compared to an MP3.

Square peg? Cool peg more like.


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