Do you enter photo competitions? I put an entry in one of the local camera club’s competitions. It was an ‘open’ competition i.e. entries can be any subject. It was some time ago, but I’ve been thinking about that experience recently.

I entered a square format image. The judges comments…paraphrased and shortened a bit:

I don’t like square format images. Its not the natural aspect ratio that our eyes see. Why would you present a square image…

He went on about it for some time.

I was thinking, while sitting there listening, outwardly calm; what the F..k, It’s a two dimensional, black and white, toned, mounted on board and matted image, how more unnatural could you get compared to our vision and he says the SQUARE FORMATT is unnatural.

Cheez, don’t pay attention to what other’s say about your shots unless it’s constructive. Square or not the comments ought to have been about the composition and if the crop worked, as well as why or why not, amongst other things.

Don’t know about you but my vision’s aspect ratio seems to be sort of oval,  a bit blurry at the edges and probably changes depending on how alert I am and what I’m concentrating on. I don’t think we come with an ‘aspect ratio’ but, yep, it’s probably not square. I don’t think it’s necessarily 3:2, 4:5, 16:9 or any particular ratio either. Does it matter if the final image mimics human vison or not? I don’t think so; I don’t think it can. Camera’s just don’t see the way we do in all sorts of ways.

As far as images go there have been more aspect ratios used historically than you can poke a stick at as they say. Here’s an overview.

The right aspect ratio for an image is the one that works the best for your composition. Sticking with one aspect ratio for all your work has the benefit of removing a variable that may otherwise dampen creativity but we’re all different, so do what works for you.

Here’s a square image for your enjoyment (not the one I entered).



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