Go vertical: Portrait orientation is no longer scourge of photo and video

vertical video here to stay sony dsc
kikediaz7/123RF
Portrait orientation, where the vertical dimension of an image is longer than the horizontal, was less common in photography — and completely absent in video — until the rise of the cameraphone. And when phone-ographers first began shooting the dreaded vertical videos, we who knew better mocked them soundly. Now we’re about to eat our words, however, because vertical is the new horizontal.

This is a result, not surprisingly, of a huge shift toward mobile-first media production. Our phones are the one screen we have that gets viewed in portrait orientation, and we look at our phones a lot — 89 percent of mobile users in the U.S. use their phones to access the news. That means news outlets — the last great bastion of stalwart horizontal holdouts — are now focusing on vertically oriented content, according to a report in Time.

“It’s no secret that our audience is increasingly experiencing our journalism on mobile devices,” New York Times’ photo editors Jeff Furticella and Becky Lebowitz told Time. “So in the past year or so we’ve made a point to focus on experimenting with new ways to reach them.” For the New York Times, that doesn’t mean traditional horizontal imagery is going away, but rather that unique experiences are being created for each story for the different outlets of print, desktop, and mobile.

Mobile apps are leading the charge to vertical imagery. YouTube, which at one time didn’t support vertical videos at all, changed its mind last year, allowing the once-shunned format to play natively in its iOS and Android apps. When Instagram announced support for multiple aspect ratios, users flocked to portrait orientation because the photos showed up so much larger than those shot in landscape orientation. (If Instagram simply allowed us to rotate our phones to view horizontal photos full screen, maybe this would change.)

Time also cites the impressive growth of Snapchat as a reason why individuals and publishers alike have adopted vertical video. It simply makes sense in a Snapchat story, since people are already holding their phones vertically. (This is anecdotal, but we have witnessed people tilt their head sideways to view horizontal content on Snapchat rather than rotate their phones.)

On a commercial level, shooting for Instagram or Snapchat isn’t much different from shooting for a magazine cover or a specific print size. From an artistic perspective, however, one of the issues of producing content for a device is that the device does not necessarily conform to the best expression of the idea. Conforming our ideas to the device, instead, seems to go against what art is all about, and is not something that photographers have traditionally had to deal with (you can hang a picture on a wall any old way). But such a challenge can also breed creativity.

“In the last couple of years I’ve actually started to really gravitate towards verticals,” photographer Natalie Keyssar told Time. “To me, I guess, a vertical is a symbol, whereas a horizontal is a story.”

Mobile

Verizon has made its first 5G video call … with a phone that’s already out

Verizon has announced that it has successfully made its first video call, using a smartphone that's already available: The Motorola Moto Z3. To make the call, Verizon used the 5G Moto Mod.
Movies & TV

Star Wars series 'The Mandalorian' adds 'Deadpool' actress Gina Carano

The Mandalorian, Jon Favreau's live-action Star Wars series planned for Disney's streaming video service, will be one of the most expensive television shows ever made. Here's everything we know about it so far.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime right now (November 2018)

Prime Video provides subscribers with access to a host of fantastic films, but sorting through the catalog can be an undertaking. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Computing

Make a GIF of your favorite YouTube video with these great tools

Making a GIF from a YouTube video is easier today than it's ever been, but choosing the right tool for the job isn't always so simple. In this guide, we'll teach you how to make a GIF from a YouTube video with our two favorite online tools.
Photography

Golf ball-sized Lume Cube Air is a pocketable LED for photos and video

Off-camera lighting for smartphones and GoPros just got even smaller. Meet the Lume Cube Air, a smaller portable LED light designed for photos and videos that weighs only about two ounces.
Photography

Edit portraits with A.I. and adjust focus in the new ON1 Photo RAW 2019 editor

ON1 Photo RAW 2019 now has a dedicated tab for portraits that automatically recognizes faces to help with retouching. The update also brings a new focus stacking tool, enhancements to layers, and improvements to local adjustments.
Mobile

Taking shots in the dark with Night Sight, the Pixel’s newest photo feature

The Google Pixel range has always been the home of some of the mobile world's best phone cameras. That performance is now getting even better with the introduction of the low-light Night Sight mode.
Photography

Alpha Female: Sony awards five women grants to support artisan diversity

Women can face several challenges in launching a photography career -- Sony's latest initiative aims to help propel women in the industry forward. Sony recently announced the winners of the Alpha Female program.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Product Review

Fewer pixels, better camera? The Nikon Z6 shows the beauty of restraint

The Nikon Z6 is the sibling to the new mirrorless Z7 -- but for some photographers, the cheaper Z6 may be the better option. Read where the $2,000 camera beats the $3,400 one (and where it doesn’t) in our Nikon Z6 review.
Social Media

Build a wish list and shop videos with Instagram’s latest shopping update

Eyeing a product on Instagram? Now there are more ways to shop from the social network. Instagram just rolled out options to save products in a collection as users can also now shop from videos.
Photography

See the National Forests like never before in these awe-inspiring drone videos

What's the difference between a National Park and a National Forest? Drones. With no ban on drones in National Forests -- at least, not yet -- filmmakers have a way to capture the immensity of these locations with stunning results.
Product Review

With outstanding image quality, the ‘basic’ Sony A7 III excels in every way

Replacing the four-year-old A7 II as the new entry-level model in Sony's full-frame line, the A7 III is an impressively capable camera that gives more expensive models a run for their money.
Social Media

Addicted to Instagram? Its new ‘activity dashboard’ is here to help

Ever get that nagging feeling you're spending too much time on Instagram? Well, a new "activity dashboard" has a bunch of features designed to help you better control how you use the addictive photo-sharing app.