Vertical and Horizontal

Courthouse Towers (Vertical), Arches National Park, Moab, Utah ©Mike Spinak

You may not realize it from looking at my pictures, here, but I often have an alternate version of the same subject.

Courthouse Towers (Horizontal), Arches National Park, Moab, Utah ©Mike Spinak

I often shoot both a vertical and a horizontal version.

In my mind, one version is usually my first choice, and the other is my second choice. I make the one I prefer, first. Then – if time and conditions allow – I flip the orientation ninety degrees, make minor recomposing adjustments as necessary, and shoot it again.

If I prefer one version, and shoot it first, then why do I bother to make the second version?

I do it because I can never know what publishers, and various other clients who license stock, will need for their end uses. Someone might want a picture for a vertically oriented magazine, or for a horizontally oriented coffee table book. Or perhaps an interpretive panel at a park, or billboard, or – who knows? Even for my own private use, it’s hard to predict what the  future may hold. Maybe I’ll need a particular shape to fit into a display. Or, perhaps I’ll want to put a picture on a mug, or t-shirt, or whatever else. Further, I can’t predict how developing technologies, such as laptop computers or iPads, will affect market preference for a specific orientation. So, when I can, I cover my bases – just in case.

This quick post is just a little tip that you might want to consider shooting both vertical and horizontal versions, when you can. Especially if you may have professional aspirations.

Happy shooting.

Courthouse Towers, Arches National Park, Moab, Utah

All pictures and text are © Mike Spinak, unless otherwise noted. All pictures shown are available for purchase as fine art prints, and are available for licensed stock use. Telephone: (831) 325-6917. For workshops, please go to

  • Michael Russell - Good advice. I also shoot one of each because I am not always sure at the time which I will favour later. Saves me from wishing I had shot the other orientation when I am editing.ReplyCancel

  • naturography - Thanks, Michael.
    Yup, that can be another good reason to shoot both.ReplyCancel

  • Melli - I agree with that. Good advice, one that I try to put into practice as often as possible. Sometimes more successfully, sometimes not.ReplyCancel

  • Mark Peterson - Mike – I totally agree. Many years ago when I was first starting out, I took a workshop with Bryan F. Peterson (who now runs PPSOP). He had a quote he repeated like mantra all week: “When’s the best time to take a vertical? Right after every time you take a horizontal!” I’ve followed this advice ever since…never shoot a subject without some H/V version, even if one doesn’t “feel quite right.” Cheers! MarkReplyCancel

  • naturography - Thanks, Melli.ReplyCancel

  • naturography - Thanks, Mark.
    Is that the same Bryan Peterson who wrote Understanding Exposure?
    P.S. It’s great to see you, here!ReplyCancel

  • Mark Peterson - Yes Mike – same Bryan Peterson! And thanks for the welcome – I’ll surely visit often!ReplyCancel