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Don’t forget these golden rules when cutting your images

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It’s one of those basic things that we probably over-use when we are starting out, and as we get better we rely on less and less. But let’s face it, cropping is an integral part of the photography process, whether you’re cropping in-camera or after the fact.

Here are three reminders of how to crop responsibly from Chelsea Nicole Photography.

None of these points is exactly going to change your entire outlook on cropping, but they do serve as a handy reminder, particularly for those of us finding ourselves shooting a lot and potentially getting stuck in a rut. Chelsea makes the following points:

  • Avoid cropping at joints: A classic here. If you crop on a joint you run the risk of making a limb look amputated (not that there’s anything wrong with amputated limbs). More than that, it just looks plain awkward. So don’t do it. If you’ve shot too tight then crop more to avoid a joint.
  • Breathing room: You want to make sure that you have ample breathing room around the subject, both around the edge of the frame and especially around the head. You want to avoid any awkward tangents with the edge of the frame. Once again, shoot further pulled back and you will have more room for playing around (literally).
  • Use the rule of thirds: Yes, there is some controversy around whether this rule is legit or not, but I think we can all agree that it’s here to stay. And it does work most of the time. So if you’re unsure of where to place your subject it’s a decent place to start. (o keyboard shortcut for guides in Adobe software)
  • TL:DW Bonus: use tapering and crop at the thinnest part of the body to create the illusion of slenderness (hint: women like that generally!)

So once again, it’s that age-old conundrum of whether you should crop in-camera or in post. With today’s large megapixel count and full-frame cameras, it is much easier to shoot pulled back and hone the composition in post. In fact, if you’re shooting commercially I would advise doing this, at least for some shots because it gives the Art Director more to work with.

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