Those basics aside, and without running down the millions of hits you get if you run horizontal versus vertical photographs through a search engine, perhaps we can just do our own captures and see what we think about them.
Here are two from Vilnius, Lithuania, where I wanted to capture the locks that people place on bridges as signs of their love for each other. I shot it twice on this bridge, one horizontal, the other vertical, with different locks in the image.
On the other hand, the vertical has fewer locks but, in this case, I was able to feature three locks up close. If I had done that as a horizontal, I’d have lost the background. Here, I was able to keep the background. As it happens, I have no strong feeling one way or the other as to which is the better or stronger image. If I had to choose, I would pick the vertical, perhaps because it balances a high level of detail of the locks, which was important, with sufficient background to establish setting.
Why is the background important? We like to think of the subject in terms of the simpler, the better, but here the locks stand in place of the people who put them there, and through the locks we see what the couples saw as they placed the locks. To that extent, the background and setting are equally part of the story.
Too many times we see something interesting and just take one shot. We are told to move around and look for other angles. We need to remember that it is worth taking it from the vertical as well as the horizontal perspective and having the option later. Sometimes we can accomplish that by cropping but that can lose too much of the image. Get the full image at the time, both ways.