Daniel Long

Shooting in Portrait for Landscape — Daniel Long Photography

Whenever someone hears Landscape photograph they immediately think the frame of the picture is horizontal but that can limit your creativity when out taking photos.

In my post about the ‘ Top 10 Composition Techniques for Landscape Photography ‘ I gave several techniques that work incredibly well in portrait landscape photography.

What does Portrait do for Landscape?

There are some things better presented in vertical rather than horizontal.

Shooting in portrait for landscapes allows you to show the perspective of a scene.

It gives a sense of distance when shooting from a high point.

It gives a sense of monolithic foreboding when at a low point and looking to a mountain.

It can lead a viewer into the scene, allowing an audience to examine the details.

There are many reasons to choose portrait perspective over a horizontal one, and it depends on what you are trying to say with that image. What aspect of the scene or subject are you trying to accentuate and bring to attention.

Once you know your intent for a photograph, you can apply compositional techniques to achieve that perfect image.

Example 1

This image is from Trondheim in Norway, the portrait orientation made the scene bigger than if it was in a landscape orientation. If I had shot this scene in landscape orientation then the reflections on the water would have been cut off, at the time I felt that the inclusion of the reflections made the image better. And I still think that.

What do you think?

Compositional Techniques for Use in Portrait Landscape

Several of the compositional techniques discussed in my post the ‘Top 10 Composition Techniques for Landscape Photography’ excel the composition of a photograph when used in portrait perspective.

  • The Rule of Thirds (link to in-depth guide to this technique) — can be extremely useful for dividing the frame in portraiture, moving the horizon from the middle of the frame to the top third or the bottom third can create 2 very distinctive compositions that tell 2 different stories
  • Leading Lines — if the environment has natural lines leading you to a particular subject or feature, when used in combination to the Rule of Thirds above in portrait mode can be a really interesting composition, accentuating the length of the scene
  • S-Curve (link to in-depth guide to this technique) — similar to Leading Lines above, the S-Curve can accentuate the length of the frame in portrait perspective, both techniques are used to bring the audience into the picture
  • Frame within a Frame (link to in-depth guide to this technique) — this technique in portrait perspective evokes the idea of a door, instead of a window like in landscape perspective, giving the idea of leading to something
  • Negative Space — this technique lends itself better to portrait perspective than to landscape perspective, allowing you to isolate a subject in a landscape and use the sky as a negative space (especially on a cloudless day)

Example 2

This image is an example of leading lines in portrait orientation, as the sculpture’s structure at the bottom of the frame leads you to the horizon and to see the real subject of the image: the Eiffel Tower.

Thinking outside the box

One of the many problems with photography in this day and age is a lack of thinking outside the box (this sort of topic will come up a lot). With the sheer quantity of visual material on the internet we have become unimaginative, we think that all landscape photographs should look one particular way.

But, one method to create something unique is to think of a different way of capturing and presenting what you are seeing.

I hope that this article has persuaded you to give portrait perspective a chance when shooting landscapes!

Example 3

This image comes from a river that feeds into Loch Ness in Scotland, I decided to use portrait orientation to accentuate the rock formations that have been carved away by the river over hundreds of years. This image would have had the same problem as Example 1, if I had shot this in landscape orientation then the rock formations and river would have been cut off and wouldn’t have such a strong image.


Turning your camera 90 degrees when shooting landscape photography can be a fantastic way to give subjects greater prominence. It can make the scene larger than if you use landscape orientation.

In my opinion using portrait orientation can help you create new images that you would not have thought of otherwise.

It can help you think outside the box and find new subjects for your images.

Most importantly: go out and have a go and see what you can create!

Written by Daniel Long

Daniel Long created DRL Photography as a place to showcase his work as a photographer. Daniel has learnt a lot about photography and wishes to impart this knowledge with you, although the world is an ever changing place and he always says “ you can never learn everything.” So as he makes his way, he continues to learn knew techniques, skills and information about photography. He focuses on Landscape and Wildlife photography and Daniel has a special focus on Scotland, his home away from home. As well as writing about photography and taking pictures out in the field, Daniel offers guided photography days so he can share his knowledge and locations in an effort to give his clients the best opportunities possible. Have a browse around this website to see his images, guided experiences and articles about photography. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to get in contact.

Originally published at https://www.drlphotography.co.uk on January 25, 2019.

Daniel is a photographer with a keen interest in landscape and wildlife subjects, but he enjoys to explore many different aspects of photography as a subject.