Saturday, February 6, 2010

Crop My Pictures and You Are a Dead Man

“Crop my picture and you’re a dead man.” That’s what David Page, one of the contributors to my books, Digital Photography Secrets, said to me in an email when he submitted one of his pictures for publication. After his demand was a happy face!

Basically, David, a heck of a nice guy and former fine art photographer and teacher at Duke University, was asking, in a nice way, that his image not be cropped.

David’s comment was the inspiration for a column that I wrote for Layers magazine.

I agree 100 percent with David's philosophy. To me, and to most of my photographer friends, cropping in-camera and in the digital darkroom is one of the keys to a good image – a good exposure and an interesting subject being among the other key ingredients that make a good photograph.

In fact, when I work with publishers, including my friends at Layers magazine, the only request I have is to please not crop my pictures. It’s a request that surely makes the art director’s job more difficult, and I appreciate their extra effort.

Cropping goes hand-in-hand with composition, because if you have an expertly composed photograph and then it’s cropped poorly, the composition goes down the tubes, or maybe to Davy Jones’ Locker, according the David Page.

Explore the Light,



Bret Edge said...

This is an excellent post, Rick. I've had several images published only to discover that they were cropped by a photo editor more concerned with making the image fit their space than with the aesthetics of the original image. It is a bummer but I usually forgive and forget when the check arrives.

Love your blog and your iPhone app. Great stuff!


Stan said...

Cropping in camera works if your composition fits the aspect ration of your camera. If you want a square composition and have a 4:3 or 3:2 frame, you need to crop. Or conversely, if you have a square frame, then how do you get a vertical or horizontal image without cropping. Also, what about panels?
Cropping is one of the tools of the photographer, be it film or digital.

Sascha Vogt said...

I agree with you 100% that cropping is an essential part of composition.

That is why I allways ask where and how a picture is to be used and how much room there is. Imidiatly asking for the aspect-ratio is just to much for most people. And then I do the crop myself.

Which leads to the fact that I'm quite happy with todays 15+MP cameras which allow me to take the frame a little bit larger and still have enough meat for a not so obvious crop.