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Whether you’re a longtime professional, a beginner or an avid hobbyist, the terms portrait and landscape will frequently appear in your line of work. If you are a new photographer, they can be confusing because the two can have multiple meanings when it comes to photography. The phrases could define the genre of the photograph, help determine your camera mode, and even describe the orientation of an image.

This article will cover the key differences between landscape and portrait photography, outline how the two terms apply in different situations in photography and when to use them, and which is better for the orientation of your photography portfolio.

Landscape vs Portrait Photography in general

Portrait photography

The portrait format refers to when the frame is vertically displayed, meaning that the side edges are longer than the bottom and top edges. The resulting format will make the subject appear taller and wide. When you position your camera vertically at 90 degrees, you take portrait images.

Landscape photography


A landscape orientation refers to the camera being in a horizontal display. This will cause the image’s top and bottom edges to be longer than the sides. Likewise, the landscape format will make the subject appear broader than taller.

Portrait versus landscape can refer to different things to different photographers. While they have different formats, they are related to three fundamental aspects of photography- orientation, genre and camera mode.

How to apply Landscape and Portrait photography

Portrait vs Landscape photography as direction (orientation)

The terms landscape and portrait describe how an image is orientated.

When professional photographers discuss orientation or direction, landscape photography will refer to an image that is wider than it is tall. As a result, photographers will shoot in a horizontal orientation.

In contrast, portrait orientation will refer to images with the final product taller than wide. They are, therefore, captured in a vertical direction.

So what is best? It is up to the photographer’s decision what format suits their subject or scene best and how the two options fit according to the message they want to send with their work.

Portrait vs landscape photography as genre

When professionals discuss genre, or style of photography, the display of the final image isn’t as important as the subject. Let’s compare the unique differences between the two terns and how they present genre.

Portrait photography genre

Portraiture work will always feature a model as a focal point. However, a model does not always have to be a person. It can even be a pet or an object. Usually, this type of image is set and shot using vertical orientation, so you can truly make your subject (model) stand out.

This genre of photography can be challenging as working with a subject presents many challenges. To excel in portraiture photography, you will need to consider capturing the emotions you want to display and experiment with a range of angles so specific parts of your model stand out.

Landscape photography genre

This genre is traditionally made up of anything related to the outdoors, including environmental, aerial photos, wildlife, plants, mountains, and waterfalls. Most often, landscape photography is taken and displayed horizontally. Landscape photography is the best method to visualise nature as it can give the scene enough negative space to create a good focus point.

Looking for the right angle, finding the best light, capturing the essence of your location to sending the right message are just a few of the aspects to consider when capturing landscape photography that stuns your audience.

Portrait vs landscape photography as camera modes

The final way portrait or landscape are explored in photography are as ‘camera modes’. Today, most point-and-shoot digital cameras and DSLRs cameras have modes that you can select to help manipulate an image. There are pre-programmed settings that the camera uses based on what it thinks you intend to photograph and how you intend to compose the scene or subject of a photograph.

Portrait mode

In a portrait composition, you have three layers- Foreground (the area in front of your subject), your subject, and the background (the space behind your subject). The portrait mode in digital photography allows your camera to focus on a model, which results in a subtle blur to the image’s background. This feature is usually displayed as a button in the shape of a person.

Landscape mode

Landscape mode is another function of a digital camera that focuses on a scene, giving the environment more sharpness. This mode is usually represented by a mountain shape on the camera’s display. Landscape photography is traditionally horizontal, is it’s imperative to integrate negative space into your work to make your composition look more defined.

Which is better?

The answer? Both portrait and landscape photography are equally compelling in their own ways.

Choosing the best orientation for you all depends on your artistry, the messages you want to send, your personal goals, and your vision of the image as a photographer. By understanding the drawbacks and the benefits of each, you will be better positioned to decide which format is most suitable for your portfolio.

Do you have to pick one or the other? Absolutely not. There are no rules when creating stunning images. For your next project, experiment with portraits and landscapes. Play with photo angles and orientation to find a photograph composition that satisfies you. Maybe one-page orientation or another composition enhances the scene or helps create different emotions.

You can develop a fantastic combination that looks visually appealing on any website or gallery by mixing the two. After all, versatility and professionalism are what draws in viewers.

Are you the next master photographer that Australia has to offer? Delve into the world of portraiture and landscape photography and sign up to Sydney Photographic Workshop’s beginner’s course today.

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