Landscape Photography Inspiration

Square Format Photography

Landscape photographer Lea Tippett gives us an insight into his stylistic choice to shoot square format photography. This article first featured in Issue 45 of Light & Landscape Magazine.

Square Shooter

Like many of us over the years, I’ve been inspired by certain landscape photographers whose work I admire very much. A few years ago I was beginning to lose interest in my photography and although I was happy with much of my work I just felt that it was lacking that something to make it stand out a bit more. I would start looking and comparing my work with many of the great photographers out there that I admire so much and realised that I just couldn’t achieve images that I was truly happy with.

As photographers, I feel we do this to ourselves often and we can be extremely self-critical about our own work. I spent weeks thinking about how I could improve things or change my workflow somehow to produce work that I would be proud of. One evening I was up to my usual tricks of looking at some of my favourite artists work when I realised one common denominator. Something stood out which I never twigged all this time and it was literally staring me in the face!

The majority of photographers I idolised were photographing in either 5×4 or 6×6. This was a pivotal moment in my photographic journey and something that changed my way of thinking regarding photographing landscape. From that night on I started experimenting with shooting in square format photography as I wanted to know how far I could push things in a compositional way.

I spent quite a few months trying different ideas and placing subjects in the form of landmarks in different positions in the square frame just to see how things balanced out and if the image flowed well. I even knocked up some homemade small plastic frames 5×4 and 6×6 which I use to this day to aid me in viewing the composition even before the camera comes out of the bag.

It’s been an interesting journey in the last few years but one I feel has worked well for me as a photographer and I feel that square format photography has not just improved my composition but has also helped me visualise the image much easier than conventional 3×2 ratio.

There’s something rewarding about photographing in square format that makes me want to continue photographing in this way. I find myself having to work harder in respect of my compositions and definitely having to put more thought into how to achieve something that I’m happy with.

Sigma Foveon Sensor

Depending on the landscape, I will be looking for lead-in lines, balance, possibly fill the frame, separation, use of diagonals or whether the subject should be in the centre of the image or not to name a few. I photograph exclusively using Sigma cameras with the unique Foveon sensor which renders images in a different way than the conventional Bayer sensor cameras but the images have a rather unique look which I particularly like.

The camera is a little basic in its functions but I like that minimalistic approach however one feature that has helped me more than any other in regards to photographing in square format aspect ratio is the fact I can view the image in square format before pressing the shutter button.

Square Format Photography – Final Thoughts

This has been a blessing to me as I always prefer working this way rather than just photographing in the conventional 3×2 and then cropping square when processing the file. There is no doubt in my mind that I now take much more time with my composition. Photographing in the square format has forced me to think about things more and, in many ways, I feel this has been a turning point in my photography so much so that I hardly ever revert to photographing in any other aspect ratio.

I admit however there are times that square just doesn’t quite work, as like anything there are limitations but I do feel that this format has enabled me to become a far more creative photographer.

Square format photography of Godrevy Lighthouse by Lea Tippett.

Godrevy Lighthouse

This is a place I love to visit when I’m back home in Cornwall. I noticed the wooden slatted path on a previous occasion but needed a longer lens in the form of the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 Sports lens. I used the path as the lead-in line to the iconic lighthouse in the background.

Square format photography of Porth Nanven by Lea Tippett.

Porth Nanven

This is my favourite place in the UK and a location that I never get tired of visiting after all these years. The dinosaur eggs boulders are a sight to see and really make for great seascape subjects especially with the famous Islands of The Brissons in the distance.

Assynt, Scotland - by landscape photographer Lea Tippett.


This image was taken on a trip to Assynt last August and was a location I had wanted to visit for some time. I wanted to fill the frame as much as possible introducing as many elements into the image as I could. The main intended subject was Suilven in the image which I have placed roughly on a third vertically in the image. I wanted to show the beautiful surroundings of Assynt so ensured that I captured the Scottish pines and some foreground interest in some large stones at the edge of the Loch.

Crown Tin Mines at Botallack by Lea Tippett.

Crown Tin Mines

The Crown Tin Mines at Botallack are a dream to photograph in square format with so many options for composition. On this occasion, I wanted to be far enough away from the mines to include the surrounding landscape and fill the frame as much as possible. I’ve positioned the mines on a vertical third of the frame and left a minimal amount of sky showing. I felt it was more important to show off the surrounding landscape which also aids in binding the image together.

Square format photography of Isthmus Bay, Derwent Water by Lea Tippett.

Derwent Water

Taken at Isthmus Bay, Derwent Water I was fortunate to have a wonderful sunset. I’ve used the landing plinth as the lead-in drawing your eye towards the sun and the distant mountains with splashes of light on the peaks.

Video Interview

Bio – Lea Tippett

I’m a landscape photographer and a proud Cornishman based in Somerset who primarily photographs the South West of the UK. I’m an Ambassador for both Sigma UK and Kase Filters and regularly run workshops and 1-2-1 tuition for myself and Image Seen. I use Sigma cameras which use the unique Foveon sensor and I shoot almost entirely in square format as I love the aspect ratio and the freedom to express myself that I feel the square format gives me.

Bio photo of landscape photographer Lea Tippett.