Making Memories in 2012 | Week 4 – Cropping

Ok, life happens, and last week we were out of town and my post didn’t make it up. So I hope you enjoyed your break, but now we’re back! And this week we’re finishing up the ABCs of Composition in our photos:




Remember that composition refers to what makes up the photo. It can take a shot from meh to good or from good to great. But it requires looking through the viewfinder and taking a few moments to think about “ABC” before just snapping.

So let’s talk about cropping.


Many people think of this as a post processing item, but I like to save myself time and get my images as close to perfect in camera as possible.

So we’re going to play some “Good Crop, Bad Crop” (sorry, bad play on words, but I had to) and talk about cropping when people are involved. This is an instance where you should learn the rules first in order to break them later on. As a general rule, if you don’t want to include a full body shot, think in thirds. Crop for a portrait, a 2/3 shot or go full body. Avoid cropping at a joint, and look for the thinnest parts of their bodies.


Good crop: Crop around the natural waist, or between the breasts and the waist if she’s pear shaped. Avoid the elbow, and if she’s large breasted, it’s  safer and more flattering to crop between the elbow and the wrist.

Bad crop: Don’t crop a woman at her breasts, especially if she’s well endowed. Avoid cropping at the elbows, which will look stunted and awkward.  Chopping a large breasted woman off just below the breasts and above the elbow will weight the bottom of the photo, and create a heavy, boxy body on an otherwise hourglass woman.

2/3 shot

Good Crop: Crop just above or a bit below the knees. This will elongate the body and allow more body language to be portrayed in the photo.

Bad Crop: Do not crop at the hips, which are usually the widest part of the body. Knees and ankles should also be avoided. Cropping at the knees will look awkward, and chopping the feet off at the ankles seems frivolous…why not make it a full body shot? If you’re avoiding bad footwear, take it up to just below the knees.


An amazing type of cropping that allows for freedom and innovation is the close crop. Extremely effective when capturing intimacy, emotion, and details, this effect usually focuses on a single body part, or part of a part. Drawing in close to a couple embracing creates a feeling of love and intimacy. Using a macro lens or zooming in tight can let you focus on tiny baby toes, the anxiously folded hands of a bride, the careworn, wrinkled hands of a great grandparent on newborn baby skin.

So this weekend, take some shots and pay attention to the cropping. Upload them to the Flickr page and I’ll share some on Wednesday!



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