I once overheard a photographer say that “the best time to take a photograph in portrait orientation is right after you’ve taken one in landscape” and it’s been a guideline I’ve stuck with. I think the reason we rarely deviate from shooting landscape is because we stick with the default orientation of the camera and we can’t bare the thought of excluding so much from a photo like you would if you were to shoot in portrait format.
The correct orientation to utilize is the right one for that shot. It all depends on the subject matter. We’re all intrinsically visual people so when I approach a subject, I simply follow my eyes. If what’s attracted me makes me look vertically, then I shoot portrait and the same goes with landscape mode. I like to think I shoot a mixture of both formats but a quick inspection of my work reveals that I shoot largely in landscape and that’s because I’m always thinking about the platform in which I’m going to showcase any of them.
Where we share our work also influences which orientation we choose to shoot. Up until this point, if my fascination with Coney Island weren’t obvious already, for the longest I’ve wanted to publish this photograph of the boardwalk I took last summer but I was always indecisive because as attracted as I was with it, the fact that it was in portrait format turned me off and I never felt it flowed with the way I typically publish anything on the site.
The Parachute Jump that arises above the Coney Island boardwalk is among one of the iconic frameworks of this tourist attraction and the only way I think of where you can completely admire and isolate it from every other form of distraction taking place is to frame it the ways it’s intended to be seen and that’s vertically.