Andrew S. Gibson delivered a great book on photo composition earlier this month with his title for Craft & Vision called Beyond Thirds. In my review of Beyond Thirds, I noted that he did a great job of exploring both the how and why of photographic composition in order to create more powerful images.
Gibson has released another book related to composition, this one simply titled Square. Subtitled “the digital photographer’s guide to the square format”, I found the book to be a quite interesting. Where Beyond Thirds provides a good 30-page overview of a variety of composition techniques, Square really dives into detail with around 50 pages devote solely to exploration of square images.
The book flows in a smooth fashion, starting appropriately enough with the history of the square format and a look at the cameras and films which pioneered square photography. Given that most current cameras produce rectangular images, some time is spent in discussion of cropping to a square format and the best method for doing so. The meat of the book focuses on composition tips for using the square format, including a look at design, balance, shape, framing, and color (and the lack thereof).
Because of the history of square images in the world of fine art photography, there is a good discussion of how the format can support a photographer making a statement or telling a story within the image. The changed shape of the photo means that the composition rules usually used in rectangular photography don’t always apply. One example called out is the rule of thirds, which often looks overly forced in a square image.
Short sections are devoted to diptyches/triptyches, Holga lenses, and the current popularity of Instagram which uses a square-formatted image. Two case studies are interspersed; each features a photographer who has become prolific with square photography. The book contains three appendices for square post-processing. The first discusses cropping techniques. The second deals with creating vertoramas (stitching two horizontal images into a square vertical panorama), and the third explains how to add a basic black border to an image.
I found Square to a great read, one which has me thinking a lot about creating more images in a shape that’s not native to my camera gear. I occasionally crop to square such as the image along with this post, but I suspect I’ll be doing it a bit more in the future.
You can buy Square for only $9.97 from author Andrew S. Gibson.