Most of the time when you order prints, they’ll be in the standard 4×6 size, which is perfect because that’s the same shape as the rectangle of the original image. But somewhere along the line in the history of prints and frames, different sizes became popularized that have different “squarenesses”, or different aspect ratios. For example, a 4×6 rectangle has an aspect ratio of 1.5, 5×7 is 1.4, 8×10 is 1.25 and 11×14 is 1.27.
The good news is that it usually doesn’t matter. For many images, even if you want a print size with a more square shape, nothing important gets cropped out.
The bad news is that sometimes it really matters a lot, such as in this image.
The image looks great in its original aspect ratio of 1:5, but as you get more square the image looks worse and worse. There are a few things you can do if you have an image you’d like to enlarge that wants to be a rectangle. The first option is to go frameless. There are a wide variety of products available on the market that you can hang directly on your wall without a frame such as canvases and float wraps. Professional labs have a huge variety of sizes, including 8×12, which has a 1.5 aspect ratio.
Alternatively, you can order non standard print sizes through professional labs and then either purchase a custom frame through a framing company or order that same size online.
Usually it doesn’t matter, but is something to be aware of for those images that dislike being cropped.