The original orientation of a photo means whether it is horizontal or vertical. A horizontal photo is wider than it is tall. A vertical photo is taller than it is wide. Another term for horizontally-oriented photos is landscape. Vertically-oriented photos are sometimes called portrait.
The original orientation of a photo is important in iPhoto because some layouts change significantly when you choose a photo with one orientation or the other. Some layouts can only be achieved if you choose photos with the proper orientation.
For example, in the two page spread below, I've chosen the same three-photo layout (from the Simple Border theme) on each page. If you use three vertical pictures, you get three photos of equal size across the center, as shown below left. If you choose three horizontal pictures, you get one large picture and two smaller ones below it, as shown below right. You can't have three horizontal pictures across the middle, nor have one large vertical photo above two smaller ones. iPhoto decides for you depending on the original orientation of your photos.
Some layouts do not change a lot if you choose a horizontal rather than a vertical picture, but they still accommodate the photo's original orientation. For example, in the Crayon theme, the three-photo layout with floating frames has one photo above and two below, regardless of their original orientation.
Finally, some layouts do not pay any attention to the original orientation of the photos. These layouts have what I call fixed or rigid frames. When you place a photo in these frames, the photo is cropped to fit, regardless of its original orientation.
For example, in this eight-photo layout from the Picture Book theme, there are eight vertical frames. If you place horizontal pictures, they are cropped to fit. Here you can see on the right the three horizontal photos that are cropped on the left.
Sometimes, you can right-click (or control-click) the photo and choose "Fit Photo to Frame Size" to return to your original orientation (and fill the rest of the frame with white space or the background color). Other times, that option is not available.
I have to say though, that the results are not always very attractive:
And, of course, you can always change the original orientation of your photo by cropping it.
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, I'd love to hear them.
Copyright 2007 by Elizabeth Castro. Please don't copy this page. Instead, link to it!