by David DeSandro

No more squares

I love you, Instagram. You got everybody taking pictures with their phones. That’s a great thing.

I love you, Vine. Looks like you’re getting people taking videos. That’s a great thing too.

But sweet Jimminy, no more squares.

No more squares.

No more squares.

I’m looking at you designers. I realize using a square format for capturing images makes a lot of things easy. The viewport fits in the screen with more space for buttons. Gallery layout is obvious. But this shortcut will eventually lead to a dead end. Galleries will feel homogeneous and flaccid. Compose screens will feel rote and immature.

Rectangular formats have an innate motion and dynamism provided by their orientation. A wide image makes your eyes move horizontally. A tall image makes your eyes vertically. Square images are just there. They are. Sure, this absence of movement can be a refreshing characteristic. Like a sip of water to cleanse the palate. But to have all the photos square? It’s like a tofu-only meal.

Square images are Wes Anderson films. Every shot is sterilized and centered and right there. It feels cute and captured, but never captivating, never human. An orientation tells a simple story. How did the photographer hold her camera? Square images are taken, end of story.

A square is an avatar. It is an icon. It is not a photo. It is not a story.