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Make It Square

Art is about personal expression and the creative process allows us to change in whichever way suits us. The pursuit of photographic creativity and inspiration are obviously different for everyone, but the basis for each of us is the same – to grow, to evolve and to improve. A significant change in my artistic direction came when I realised that working with my favourite image format was giving me freedom, not restrictions.  For me, an ideal format is a square. Squares may require more effort when composing, but the result is well worth it. I think I started to “see in the square format” very early, when I was a child. I used to play with my father’s Pentacon Six, a 6×6 film camera. The camera was heavy, cumbersome, difficult to hold in my small hands, manual and slow. I got bored with it and embraced more modern film cameras and DSLRs. Now and then however, I missed this feeling of total satisfaction of composing and seeing a square image in the waist-level viewfinder. With modern, high megapixels cameras, I can happily crop my images square and still print them big, so no more reasons for not making square images. When creating square images, a sense of order and harmony is very important. The way we look at squares is different from rectangular images. All the sides of a square have an equal weighting and our eye moves around the frame in a circular motion rather than linear. I feel that the square format better suits intimate landscapes, which I am very fond of, because of its great symmetry and quality of stillness. Square is a perfectly balanced shape and is ideal for central placement, but also for placement near any edge of the frame. A square format “hugs” the image giving it this rather difficult to explain, neatly “boxed” feeling. I am convinced that my preference for square images is also rooted to my school days – I hated maths but geometry, came naturally to me as it was visual. Drawing shapes, diagonals, creating 3D impressions, focused my attention to compositional elements, balance, frames within, leading lines, patterns, rule of thirds, repetitions and many more. In many of my square images there is no reference point, no real scale but the lack of those is immaterial as it allows me to abstract away from the literal subject matter. One more factor in favour of the square format is that it appeals to photographers who exhibit their images in galleries. Square images look good on their own, and also when placed in sets of two or three. So, if you haven’t tried squares yet, why don’t you give it a go? Who knows, you might fall in love with this format, like I have.

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