The Power of the Square

Oil Tank
Oil Tank

By the name of my blog one can assume that I like square images.  Recently I had an opportunity to see a show of another photographer who understood the power of the square, Irving Penn.  I spent 3 wonderful hours at the Metropolitan Museum of Art wandering the galleries of Mr. Penn’s work.  I can not equate my work with Mr. Penn’s, I can only marvel at his genius and try to be inspired.  Mr. Penn like to shoot with a Rolleiflex, twin lens reflex camera.  His understanding of composition, not being afraid to include elements beyond the set etc., proved his love of the square format.


In the modern age of photography, we to have the opportunity to explore the power of the square.   One of the best things about Instagram is how wonderful it works with square images.  But the masses of those who use Instagram, think about their photos in the context of what they see in the moment.  This is not a bad thing but it thinking in squares requires additional thought and vision.  Don’t get me wrong, not every photo is better as a square  I’m sure there was always someone who wondered why Irving Penn included all this other stuff in his photos.  In fact, many were cropped for publication.


I don’t shoot with a square format camera, unless I’m using my iPhone.  Square format is one of the things I like most about iPhone as a  matter of fact.  Because my Instagram project is square I will on sometimes pass on photos that only work in horizontal or vertical format.  Oh well, but I sometimes find myself coming back to these photos with a different lens and sometimes that’s the solution.  By the way, on a totally different note, I was surprised to see how many of Mr. Penn’s beautiful B&W prints were originally shot in color.  One of the great things about photography, I never stop learning…

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