A Photographer’s Love Letter to the Square Format Photograph

Dearest Square Format, your mystique is so radiant that it compels many to go to war in comment sections in defense of your beauty.

I’d like to step back in time to the day I fell head over heels for you, and when you had me at hello. It was the summer, and I was walking around Greenwich Village. While on the High Line, I decided to try a new feature on an Olympus camera. Then, when you appeared, my head did a tilt. You know, like that special tilt that you see in cinema when a ravishing subject enters the room. We walked around together while people watching, sharing coffee, Italian pasta dishes and somehow avoided the scent of NYC’s garbage in the summer. We went home together, spent time together on the web, and then we called it a night. Since then, my feelings for you have never waned.

Some may like you only after they’ve had their way with an image in post-production–arguably cutting off the edges of you as if only falling for someone after they’ve slimmed down. But I’ve adored you just the way you are. You come out of the camera with a sense of symmetry that is unnatural. You are balanced–much unlike anything else in this world. We (and by that I mean those of us less perfect than you are) strive to find balance when we ignore the fact that it is right in front of us.

Do you remember when our relationship grew from mere pixels into cellulose and emulsions? You blossomed into a larger being–we both did! Life was so simple with you; everything was black and white. Everything was sharp, clear, focused. Though there were times you were as cold as ice, you always warmed up and became better. And even through the icy times I adored you.

Do you remember the time when the world created an app to celebrate your beauty? It was called Instagram. It gave praise to your wonderful format. But it eventually gave way to only wanting to deal with taller or wider individuals. Like all things in life, most think bigger is better.

But I don’t. I still enjoy the scent of you in a darkroom. I stare longingly at your photos on my phone and computer.

I will, always and forever, cherish you.


A photographer