Guest Post by Tom Shue - Follow Tom on Twitter.
Composition is the act of framing the subject with respect to the the relationship of foreground and background elements. Basically it’s how you express a vision and how you want your story told through a photograph. Composition has many elements and each one can have a huge impact on it, let me name a few:
- Rule of thirds
- Leading lines
- Point of view
- Orientation (portrait or landscape)
- Depth Of Field
- Cropping (the element we will discuss today)
Composition and Cropping are huge topics, so I am just going to try to give you some tips that I use when “Cropping People.”
Cropping people and cropping landscape images are a bit different. With landscape images you usually just crop until you have eliminated the distracting elements (while making sure the horizon line is level). With people, you do the same with respect to removing distracting elements but you must ensure the subject is the primary focus of the frame.
There are some things that you might have heard like “I have to shoot loose to leave space to fit an 8″ x 10″ frame” or “Cropping in post is for farmers”. Don’t get caught up in the words, just remember to think before you shoot. Try to remove distracting elements in the viewfinder and frame the subject based on the intended final use of the image.
You are going to have several opportunities to crop your image.
- Cropping in camera. Try to place the subject in the frame in such a way they are the main focus of the image.
- Cropping in post. You’ll get a chance to crop your image is in post (Lightroom or Photoshop). With today’s massive file sizes, and the fact that often, images are being used for the web, you can freely crop in post with little worry of exhausting resolution.
- Cropping when framing. The last chance you might crop is when you frame an image. Yes, I am one of those who still mounts prints and often time use the matte board as a cropping point to help solidify composition. Just remember whenever you crop, that you are doing so with the direct intention to strengthen the composition of the final image, or just don’t do it.
When making images of people, you may find yourself cropping a full length, a three-quarter, a bust or a headshot image. Each one of those crops will have some rules that you might want to consider.
- Full length: In a full length, you must always have the hands and the feet in the frame (always).
- Three-quarter: In a three-quarter shot, do not crop too close to a joint and never at an ankle or a knee.
- Bust: Make sure that if you decide to remove the hands do not do it at the wrist. Consider cropping above the elbow so the subject does not look like they have an amputation.
- Head shot: It’s always best to try to fill the frame with a headshot. Try to put one the eyes (the one closest to the camera) on one of the points of interest, usually in the upper third of the frame. Also in a head shot don’t worry about cropping off the top of the head, this is normal. Just keep an eye on the top third of the frame and it will work.
These cropping rules are the ones that I use. Please try them and see if they help you make better images. Thanks for taking time to visit today.
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