Shoot With The End In Mind
The end intention of your image will – to some extent – determine the best composition to use. For example, if the subject wants to use the photograph as their image on a social media profile, you may need to crop the shot into a square. In addition, taking a full length shot with plenty of space around the subject would result in detail too tiny to make out once the image is a small, online box. Instead, a close crop will be more usable.
If the image is for a large frame on the wall, a very close crop may be overkill, as you would need to stand too far back to take in the subject’s full features. In this instance, a portrait that includes a lot of background detail could work very well at a large scale – the smaller the subject in the frame, the larger the print needs to be to have the same impact.
A lot of website templates aimed at the photography market feature a large, landscape frame for a powerful first impression. Therefore, if all your shots are portrait, you’ll struggle to find one suitable to use.
If you plan to fill a photobook with the images you take, you will find many of the templates available feature a range of landscape, portrait and square apertures for images, so having a variety of formats in your set will be key. Similarly, if you are hoping to take images that may be used by a newspaper or magazine, then providing them with a portrait version as well as a landscape one will boost your chances of having something that fits the space they need to fill.
If you are taking the images for wall displays, you need to be aware of underscaling – one of the most common failings when people choose a print size. This happens because people don’t tend to use a reference point, but make a guess on which dimensions to buy while the print or frame is immediately in front of them. If you hold a piece of A3 paper near your face, it seems huge. But hold it up to a wall and it quickly appears lost. Visit interior design shows or new showhomes and you will quickly see what sizes compliment different spaces – and they tend to be much larger than most people would naturally go for!
As a photographer, part of your job is to introduce the concepts of usage and scale to your clients, so that prints and frames compliment the space they will be displayed in. Hold a print up in the space the client is considering displaying it, so they can make a more informed decision. If you intend to make money from selling prints, then big is definitely better for you, too, as you can make more money from them! The alternative is to cluster multiple, smaller framed images together for a similar effect.
It’s therefore good practice to consider the end use of the image, and, where possible, take both portrait and landscape versions, as this will give you the most opportunities later on.