Square portraits

I tend not to do much portraiture, but occasionally I’ll sit my wife down and make a quick portrait, compelled into doing so by her obvious beauty (which she, apparently, is blind to).

In the course of this I’ve been finding that I quite like black and white, square format head-and-shoulders portraits. There’s something about them which seems to work. As ubiquitous as the 2:3 ratio is it feels terribly confined to me sometimes. I’m looking at a couple of 4×6 prints I have framed and as pleasing as they are, I get a slight uneasy feeling that the sitter is thinking “Help! I’m trapped in a telephone box! Or a small elevator! Get me outta here!”

One of the things I’m enjoying about square format is how it can “breathe” in both horizontal and vertical directions at the same time. This really seems to help where headshots and head-shoulders portraits are concerned, which when you think about it can be “kind of square” subjects.

Kelli, square format portrait

I feel that this head-and-shoulders shot works much better as a square. To fit a typical portrait-oriented composition, I’d have had to include more of the chair, or else retain the vertical coverage at the expense of Kelli’s arms. Except they are an integral part of the pose here.