Photography Project: Tips for shooting square photographs

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I recently read an e-book by Andrew Gibson called Square.  I have been intrigued by square photographs, but never really sure what captured my attention.  Was it because they hearkened back to photography decades ago and had a retro feel to them?  I set off to find my own answers.

I thought I might as well do it right, so I put on my $20 plastic Holga lens (you can buy these lenses from Holga Direct; they mimic the effect of a toy camera) and set out to find some compelling architecture.  I landed on Pasadena City Hall (Part 2 of this post will be San Francisco).

Things I learned

Symmetry works best in the square format.  This goes completely against the rule of thirds, and I found I was reminding myself that I would be cropping to a square format.  It was a great exercise for keeping the end result in mind.

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Shapes are important.  Because you are minimizing the “real estate” for your image, what gets included must have impact.  Strong shapes create that impact, and in a simple way.

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Eliminate clutter.  Andrew Gibson talks about simplicity.  Eliminate elements that aren’t necessary, focus on “the main thing”.

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Dead space.  Having negative space works well in this format, it supports keeping focus on the “main thing” and helps to simplify.

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Mono toned images reinforce all of the other elements that make a great square image.  When it doubt take the color out (next week, I will show you some where I simplified the color scheme rather than eliminating it).

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Here are a few more:

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