The Importance of the Crop - A small tutorial

A lot of people ask me for photography tips. Just basically how they can make their pictures better. They seem to think it's the camera that makes such a big difference. While that is partly true, I think the single most important thing that makes a photo stand out is how it is cropped.

Nowdays we have the luxury of Photoshop and other photo editing software. It's taken ordinary, everyday photography to new heights. It makes it easy to take this picture.
And turn it into this moment.

Another click of a button (and some more adjusting if you are me) and you have this.
The biggest thing that transformed this picture is the new crop. Of course I've done a few other things to it in photoshop to make it "pop," but the crop is the most important. Don't limit yourself to the picture you see after you've snapped the shutter. Find the possibilities within the frame. They are there!

When cropping a photo keep in mind the rule of thirds. Take some old photographs and try it with them. Eventually, this exercise will help you take better pictures in-camera so you will have to do less cropping afterwards.

So now let's just look at the same photo cropped in different ways. I like to pick on people so I've chosen my brother-in-law for the next example. Don't worry, he can handle it! =o)

Here's the original, straight out of camera. Looks like he's having fun doesn't it?Let's take care of the obvious crops first. I crop my photos to 5x7 out of habit. Most people probably crop to 4x6. It all depends on preference.
This is just a closer crop using the rule of thirds. (Note: if I were to choose this crop I would clone out that annoying bit of rose on the left)You can do the same by cropping in a portrait dimension as well. Don't think that just because you took a horizontal picture that it has to be cropped horizontally.
Here's another option. I left a lot of room on the right. This is called negative space.
This is a 1:2 ratio crop (i.e., 4x8, 5x10, 10x20, etc.).
Try cropping off part of the face. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.And last, let's see what a close square crop can do for us. I am a fan of squares.
Let's all thank our model for putting up with me.
I hope I've helped you a little. Now go have fun cropping! Oh, and if you post a photo that you cropped because of this post I'd love to see it!


Judy said...

Amber...THANK YOU so much for this photo "lesson!" I just got PhotoShop 7 installed on my computer, so I'm going to give it a try!!! You're the best!!!

Lisa S. said...

My favorite is the 1:2 crop, nice work!

Josi said...

My favorite is the second subject. My how handsome (my husband) he is. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for these tips Amber, I tried them out with some pictures at home and wow, what a difference! Can't wait for the next lesson.