Tip: Shooting better square frame pictures

For square format apps, try shooting sideways. Red square added in.

For shooting square format images, here’s a quick tip on how to shoot the photo to help you compose a better image in the viewfinder that will work great when cropping it square.

The iPhone camera has a 4:3 aspect ratio. The most natural orientation to shoot with it is tall, giving images a 3:4 aspect ratio. shooting tall (or portrait) sometimes gives you images that have stuff on the top and bottom that you don’t want to cut out when you crop it down to square, like the tops of heads. The tendency is to fill the frame.

When shooting in a square format app without viewfinder crop marks, such as ShakeItPhoto or Format126 (or when shooting to import into a square format app such as Instagram or the square format filters in CameraBag), try shooting with the camera sideways (or landscape). Don’t worry — the iPhone should orient the picture correctly. For me, this makes it easier to visualize a square format shot in the viewfinder. The shot is already cropped top to bottom and then all needs to be trimmed is a little bit of the image on each side.

It may sound counterintuitive, but it’s an easy way to ensure that all of life’s verticals make the cut and end up in your square frame.



The idea for this post came from a video blog by Nick Campbell of Banana Camera Co.

About Marty Yawnick 1826 Articles
Marty is a self-employed graphic designer in the Fort Worth/Dallas Metroplex. He is an avid Rangers baseball, Chicago Cubs, Packers and Highbury Arsenal fan. In addition to capturing random moments with whatever camera is close by (usually his iPhone), his other interests include coffee, film, music, and traveling in seats 5E and 5F with his fiancé.
  • trinabaker

    That is a great idea. I thought about doing rotating sideways but thought the photo would turn out weird. Thanks!


  • Great tip, thanks

  • Excellent tip. I don't know why it works but, indeed, it does. For some reason it is more difficult to imagine the top and bottom of the image I see on the iPhone screen lopped off than the sides. Maybe it's related to our peripheral vision, our ability to scan left/right more easily than up/down (I know I can move my eyes more quickly and easily from left to right than up and down… you're results may vary but I suspect not greatly).

  • Fab tip! Tnx