Portrait Vs. Landscape: Which Orientation Is The To Go?

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Portrait vs Landscape

There is no denying that photography is one of the things that you can get into whenever you feel like it. Obviously, the more you learn, the better you are going to get at it but if you just keep wondering that you want to get started with it, you might not be able to get far in the process of taking photos.

One of the main things about photography is that you must understand the difference between portrait vs landscape. These are among the two most common types of photography and if you do want to get better at the job done, things are not going to be difficult, to begin with.

However, it is important to know the difference between these styles, and without that, you might not be able to get far, in the process. In this article, we want to explore how these styles differ and what you can do to be good.

Difference Between Portrait And Landscape?

It is important to understand that portrait and landscape are more than just orientation for taking photos. They mean a lot more than that, and we are going to talk about how they are different. Of course, not everyone is unaware of this, but it still is better that we are looking at these differences.

Portrait vs Landscape difference

1- Portrait

The first thing that you must know is that portrait photography does not just involve taking pictures of your subject in portrait orientation. It is a lot more than that. For instance, it also involves the style of photography you are doing and the lens you are doing.

Portrait photography usually focuses on isolated subjects, as well as the use of wide aperture lenses that are tight as far as the focal length is concerned. Think 50mm as well as 85mm with a wide aperture such as f/1.8 or f/1.4. So, you are getting that shallow depth of field and an isolated subject.

A girl's portrait
Credits: Pixabay

2- Landscape

On the other hand, you have landscape photography. Again, the landscape is not just an orientation, this style can capture more subjects, and in addition to that, the aperture is kept on a higher level, and the lenses are used have a wider focal length so more things can be covered.

For instance, if you want to take pictures of the cityscape or something along those lines, a good wide-angle lens would be good for landscape photography. My favorite lens for such purposes is a 28-70mm lens that can cover a wide range of focal lengths with ease, and you can take some stunning landscape photos with it.

However, you can do landscape photos with a 50mm lens as well as long as there is enough distance between you and the subject.

A boy standing in the mountains

Portrait Vs. Landscape: Orientation

A lot of the times, when people do get into photography, they are only aware of portrait vs. landscape as an orientation, and that is not the case.

These styles are more than that, and sure, you can easily chalk off this as something that is just an orientation and carry on with your workflow, but that is not going to be good enough.

For starters, if you are looking at it from just an orientation perspective, the portrait orientation is most common when you are photographing a person, or you are taking pictures of something, and you want to isolate the subject.

The frame becomes tighter that way, way and you can easily isolate the subject.

Orientation difference

You don’t get as much freedom with the framing here, but you still can get a great picture if you know what you are focusing on and how you want it, to begin with.

On the other hand, you have a landscape orientation that is on the wider side of things, and the best part here is that you can easily take a lot more information in a picture that way. This essentially is for people who want to have more and more subjects in their photos.

This orientation is perfect for cityscapes or street photography as you can explore more styles, and there is a lot of freedom, too. Just be sure that you are doing it the best way possible, and you will do just fine.

Portrait Vs. Landscape As Genre

Moving on to the other side of this comparison, both portrait and landscape photography can also be looked at as a genre, and it is better that you are looking at the best possible options that suit you. Most people excel at portrait photography, but at the same time, are genuinely bad at landscapes.

At the same time, most people are great at landscapes, but can’t do portraits. With that said, landscape photography is excellent when you are talking about the street or urban photography.

You can capture sprawling areas, and want to go with a wider focal length lens

Moving onto portrait photography, you are looking at subjects that are isolated with all the focus on a single subject.

Mountains snow landscape
Photo: Pixabay

Be it a person, animal, or an object; this type of photography can be used for several purposes, including being certain that all the focus is on a single subject.

The lenses used for such photography are mostly prime lenses that have an open aperture and a tighter focal length as well. You are limited when you are talking about such lenses, but the overall result is impressive, to say the least, and you can get some excellent imagery, too.

Just be sure that you know what you are looking at, and you will do just fine as far as taking the picture is concerned.

More comparisons:

Portrait Vs. Landscape As A Camera Mode

Moving on, another thing that you must know is that when you are talking about photography, you will need to know that both portrait and landscape are inherently different.

Now, a lot of people ask me what camera modes are perfect for such photography type, and honestly, the answer is a bit confusing.

For starters, I am a photographer who does not adhere to any other mode than manual mode; it gives me complete control over the photos that I want to take, and I can take some amazing pictures with ease.

Granted, it takes more time planning each shot, and each scenario demands constantly changing settings, but it allows you to granularly take the perfect photo that you want.

The camera mode versus

IF you are wondering about different modes, most cameras do come with dedicated landscape and portrait modes that have predefined settings that you can use to take your photos.

However, they are not going to give you the same level of control, therefore, you must know what you are getting into.

In other cameras, there is an auto mode, which keeps changing the settings based on the change in the subject. So, it is a better alternative for those who do not want to go with a dedicated mode.

It might be a bit hard for some people to get used to, but once you do get a hold of it, you will do great as far as the overall picture-taking process is concerned.

What Are The Best Subjects For Each Mode?

This is a question that people ask all the time, and honestly, it all depends on how you are photographing the subject or what style of photography you are looking to opt for.

It is not something that can be the same for everyone as different people have different experiences with it, but still, it is important.

With that said, if you are trying to take photos in a landscape mode, then it should be obvious that you must focus on isolated subjects. You could be taking pictures of a person, an animal, or an object.

The focal length for portrait mode is often tighter, think 50mm and above, and you get the chance to create a mood with the pictures that you are taking. It is not going to be difficult and often works work.

Both orientations as camera mode
Image: Photography Axis

On the other hand, you have landscape photos, which are best if you are talking about cityscapes, urban, or street photography. Here, you are not limited to tighter focal lengths, and more importantly, you are not focusing on a single subject.

But the entire scene is more or less your subject, and that is what makes it so important.

While one style might seem like it is easier than the other, in reality, that is not the case as both styles require proper understanding and mastery to truly get the idea of the picture you are trying to get. It is not going to be difficult at all.

Main Aspects To Consider

An important thing that you must know is that whenever you are trying to photograph something, it is better that you are aware of the type of photography you want to go with. More often than not, a lot of people completely miss out on the idea here, and they don’t know what to go with.

The main thing that you must know is that you cannot just make mistakes here, and therefore, it is wiser that you know what to do.

The aspects are simple, you just have to look at the lenses you have, the type of picture you are trying to capture, and what sort of lighting you have access to. These things come together to make up for a great picture.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot use a wider focal length camera or portraits or vice-versa because that is not what matters here.

What matters here is the way you execute the perfect shot because at the end of the day, that is what is going to give you the best results, and you will not miss out on that at all.

An Ipad with both portrait and landscape mode

Should You Use Portrait Or Landscape Orientation?

Many people come up to me and ask me what orientation that they should be using when they are taking pictures, and I always tell them that they should use the one that they are most comfortable with, and most importantly, they should use an orientation that captures their perspective.

If you want to take a picture of a tunnel to capture the leading lines on both ends, doing so in portrait landscape is going to allow for much better pictures overall as compared to what you might achieve if you decide to go with a landscape orientation.

Similarly, if you want to take pictures of a mountain range or a sprawling lake, you would want to go with a landscape orientation because that is going to help you achieve the results that you want to achieve, and it will look excellent in every sense of the way.

Deciding the orientation is not that difficult when you know the type of perspective you are trying to get your hands on.

Once you have that locked on, you will be able to get the job done, and the picture that will be resulted is going to look excellent in every sense of the way, without much to worry about in the first place.

Visualize the perspective first, and then take a picture, and it will always look excellent.

Best Lighting: Portrait Vs. Landscape

Most of the times, when you are taking landscape photos or in landscape orientation, you have access to a lot of lighting in the form of natural light.

However, if you want to use an external light source, the one thing that you have to be certain about is that the lighting has to be soft. Because if you are going for harsh lighting, things are going to look worse.

Lighting For Portrait Vs. Landscape

As far as portraits are concerned, again, you should not be concerned about the lighting if you are taking it outdoors and there is enough lighting. However, if the light is harsh even outside, then you can use reflectors to ensure that the harsh lighting bounces off the surface and starts looking a bit softer.

Soft lighting is always going to be the way to go because without that, you will not be getting the results that you want, and the pictures will never really come out the way you want them to come out.

These things are very important, and we cannot overlook them.

As long as the aforementioned factors are being taken care of, you will do just fine when taking pictures.

Best Camera Settings For Portrait Vs. Landscape Photography

Now that you have gathered most of the information about the camera, the next step is to start looking at just what needs to be done. Now, as far as the settings are concerned. Generally, many photographers go for the one-shoe-fits-all approach, but that is not going to work for all cases.

When you are talking about portrait photography, if you are photographing a single person, an animal, or an object, we would suggest that you are keeping the aperture wide open, and using a prime lens. If there is enough lighting, make sure that the shutter speed is over 1/100th of a second for better results.

As far as the landscapes are concerned, you would want to keep the rest of the settings the same, but you would want to close the aperture a bit so you can get sharper results, and in addition to that, you would want to use a wider focal length for perfect landscape shots. I would suggest investing in a 28-70mm lens.

That way, you will have several focal lengths ranging from wide to zoomed in, and the results are going to be great, too.

So, it is always better that if you are considering landscape photography, to have a lens that offers multiple zoom ranges so you can easily capture your subject(s) without any issues coming your way.

That way, there will not be an issue that might deter your experience.

Things To Consider When Shooting

Different boats black and white image
Image: Pixabay

When you are considering taking pictures, you will have to decide which orientation you are going for. There are obvious options that are available, and you cannot just go with whatever there is available as you have to make the right decision, and that is what happens to be most important.

Now, as far as the considerations are concerned. If you are shooting portraits, you should think about the type of subject you are photographing, as well as the light source you are using, in addition to that, you will need to consider other details such as what the aperture and shutter speed is going to be like.

What the ISO and exposure compensation is going to be like and other similar details. These things matter a lot when you are taking a good picture.

As far as landscape photography, the same rules apply; however, the settings are often going to be different, but that is something that everyone is aware of.

You can easily make the most of the situation and without having to worry about anything, either. Just be sure that you are doing it the right way, and you will be fine when you are taking pictures.

The settings matter, but the considerations or the rules of taking photos are similar across the board, and it is important to know that this is an important aspect here. Otherwise, you can easily mess the picture up.

Should Video Be In Portrait Or Landscape?

Video is another important factor that you should never overlook. If you want to use your camera to its full potential, chances are that you would want to shoot videos too. Now, when videos are concerned, you will have to start looking at several things.

Sure, you can shoot videos in portrait mode, but you would be surprised to know that it is very rare.

The reason is simple. Landscape or wide aspect ratio is more common as compared to portrait when you are talking about videos, that is why you see that every video that is posted is largely shot in landscape mode, and that is how it should be too.

Things just look a lot better and give the entire footage a lot more depth, something that you can never overlook. If you want to get the best possible results, always go for landscape mode when you are shooting videos, and you will get great results.

Diferent aspects for videos
Image: the creative toolkit – VMG Studios

What Is Better: Portrait Or Landscape?

Now comes the tough choice and something that has a lot of people in a rut, and that is whether they should be going with portrait or landscape, and which one is better. To be honest, it is not something that can be answered within the confines of a test.

So far, in this article, we have talked about how both of these styles are inherently different, and you cannot just compare one with the other for the sake of it. If you do want to take good photos, you must be doing it the right way.

If the picture you are taking demands to have the landscape orientation, you should take a landscape picture, but if the demand is for the portrait, you go ahead with that landscape.

There is no shortcut to determining which one is the better simply because the comparison cannot exist.

Comparing these orientations is only going to make matters worse for everyone else.

That is why one should always take photos using the orientation that they think is suitable for them, that way, you will not have to stress over what you are getting right or what you are getting wrong.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1- Is landscape horizontal or vertical?

Answer: If you are talking about the positioning of the orientation, then the landscape is horizontal, which means that it allows capturing more area.

Q2- What does landscape mode mean?

Answer: Landscape mode or orientation refers to having the camera’s field of view in a horizontal position rather than in a vertical position, therefore, allowing the camera to capture a wider field of view.

Q3- What is meant by portrait and landscape?

Answer: The portrait orientation is in which the camera is positioned vertically, so the field of view becomes narrower. The landscape is the opposite, and the camera is positioned horizontally.

Q4- Can a portrait be horizontal?

Answer: Of course, if you are using a prime lens with 50mm or above focal length, you can take a portrait with horizontal orientation, and you would still get an excellent image.

Q5- Can you use a portrait lens for landscape?

Answer: Yes, you can use portrait lenses or prime lenses for landscape photos as long as you are using a full-frame camera and there is enough distance.

Q6- What is a portrait layout?

Answer: Portrait layout is usually vertical, which means that you are getting a tighter field of view, and a narrower vision as well.

Q7- How can I change a picture from portrait to landscape?

Answer: You can use some tools that are built into the camera, or you can do it in post-processing, where you can use image-editing software for that purpose.

Q8- How can I turn a photo into a portrait?

Answer: The process is the same as the one stated above, you can either do it in the camera, or you can use some image-editing software for the purpose.

Q9- Is 28mm wide enough for landscape?

Answer: 28mm is perfect for a landscape. However, if you want to go for a wider field of view, you can also go for a 16mm lens, but that is more in the line of an ultra-wide-angle rather than a wide-angle. But both are perfect for landscapes.


Taking good pictures is not something that is going to be difficult, to be honest. Whether you are taking them in landscape or portrait, it all depends on which style you are most comfortable with, and more importantly, the type of equipment that you have.

Again, if you think that one style is better than the other, then that is not the case. Both orientations have their use cases, and based on the type of shot that you are trying to frame, you can actually take the photo with ease, and nothing really will come in the way,

Just be sure that you are properly doing your research before you pick up your camera and start taking the shots, it all depends on what style you want to go with, and you will be able to take great photos in the process.

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