Aspect Ratio

The "aspect ratio" of a photo or print is essentially its shape - it's the ratio of its short edge length / long edge length. Aspect ratios are usually notated in their least common denominator numbers, with a colon in the middle.

For example, a 20" x 30" print would have an aspect ratio of 20:30, or put more simply, 2:3. A 12" x 18" print or a 4000px x 6000px image would also both have aspect ratios of 2:3. If the shorter side is a multiple of 2, then the longer side is a multiple of 3.

A square image would have an aspect ratio of 1:1, because both sides are equal in length.

A panoramic 20" x 60" print would have an aspect ratio of 1:3 (it's longer side is 3x the shorter side).

When reduced all the way down to factors of 1, you will end up with an aspect ratio with a decimal number, like in the following examples:

  • 9:16 = 1 : 1.78
  • 2:3 = 1 : 1.5
  • 3:4 = 1 : 1.33
  • 4:5 = 1 : 1.25
  • 1:1 = 1 : 1.0

When looking at the decimal numbers there, you can see that the closer it gets to 1, the more squarish the shape is; but the larger the decimal number is, the more panoramic the shape is.

Why aspect ratios matter in the Admin

The main reason it's important to understand how aspect ratios work is basically to ensure that your the print sizes you make available for a given photo match the shape of that photo.

When you edit a photo in the admin (at Photos > Modify), the aspect ratio of the photo will be automatically calculated and listed there. Also, the aspect ratios of all the various print sizes are listed too. This makes it easy to identify and select the proper print sizes to select to offer for sale for that photo.

Assuming that you have a variety of different photo shapes (aspect ratios), it's important to add enough variety of print sizes to cover all your most common aspect ratios.