It’s Hip to be Square

You may have noticed that I’ve posted a few “square” photographs recently. The square format has been hovering around the photographic periphery for generations and has experienced somewhat of a resurgence in recent times. This may be partly due to the popularity of “toy” cameras like the Holga and Diana, and also mobile phones apps like Instagram. Indeed it was through my own use of Instagram that I came to learn a little more about, and appreciate the square format.

I’ve also been shooting a lot of black and white imagery so I guess sooner or later, it was almost inevitable that I would wander into the realm of the square! It’s a practice that has really captured my imagination but one that has challenged me too.

Connemara Valley by John Mee PhotographyThe first square format camera was manufactured by Rollei in 1929. Camera maker Hasselblad even manufactured a square format camera from 1948 all the way up to 2002. Before the advent of digital you would have needed a medium format camera to practice this type of photography. Nowadays, photographers can break away from the rectangular format and simply crop to a square format in post processing.

It took me some time to get used to “thinking” square and I still find it challenging to deviate from the rules associated with the standard rectangular format that most of us are familiar with. Of course, it’s made more difficult by the fact that I still like to shot IN the standard rectangular format. However, not all scenes work with the square format, or rather, I cannot always get them to work within those confines!

Many of the rules that photographers will be familiar with no longer exist in the square world. Instead of composing using the rule of thirds, you should instead look for balance within the photograph. In square photographs, the eye is free to move around the periphery of the image. You are encouraged to view the image as a whole rather than the eye moving from side to side or being drawn down leading lines. That’s not to say that leading lines don’t work in square format – they do!

I’ve always like lines, curves and shapes in photographs. Over time. I have being trying to Solitude Standing by John Mee Photographysimplify my images, and the use of black and white along with the square format has helped me a little more towards that goal. The square format lends itself to photographing geometric shapes very well. These simple shapes can be further strengthened by the use of long exposures.

With many of my images, my intention is not be to recreate “reality”, but rather to transcend it – as pretentious and all as that sounds!. My wish is to inject meaning and emotion in my images. In my quest for this, I feel that black and white and the square format is helping somewhat.

Feel free to have a look at some of more of my square images in the this gallery. As always opinions and feedback are greatly appreciated. What do you think of square format photography and how do you think it differs from the regular format?

Thanks for reading this far.

1 Comment
  1. […] with on and off and one that I like quite a bit. I’ve written a short piece about it here. It’s a photo of Croagh Patrick near Westport. It was shot from about 20 miles away, in the […]

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