If you plan to print your photos, its essential to know that ratio to crop to. Otherwise you may end up with unexpected results.

What is aspect ratio?

Aspect Ratio of an image describes the proportional relationship between its width and its height. The most common aspect ratios are 4:3, 3:2 Other aspect ratios, such as 5:3, 5:4, and 1:1 (square format), are used in medium and large format cameras.

During one of my first professional photography jobs I was taught to always leave room for crop. When I first started taking pictures of families and groups it was natural to fill the frame. What I became to understand, cropping for standard crops and frames was essential to selling prints. If you fill a frame with a group shot and the image won’t fit into an 8 x 10 print, you lose the sale. I’m grateful for that experience. Learning to take pictures for the sale is now second nature to everything I shoot. Group shots are notorious for not fitting a standard very common 8 x 10 print.

Group Photos

Your group shot on a 3:2 camera will print without crops: 4 x 6, 8 x 12, 10 x 15, 12 x 18, 16 x 24, 20 x 30 & 24 x 36 However, most your clients will want an 8 x 10 verses an 8 x 12. This means when you take a picture, leave space open around your subjects.

Here’s an example of a typical group shot without leaving room and the family wants an 8 x 10 or a 16 x 20:

PFexample - pamelaannberry 2014-12-12 20-33-43

To prevent this, shoot with space:

JeremyLawes - pamelaannberry 2014-12-12 21-31-53

This allows for room to crop and potential to earn more money in print sales.

Auto Crop Fail

My second major photography job was working at a print lab. A common problem labs see is auto crop fail. Often customers will upload a print, ask for an 8 x 10 and let the lab crop. Many of the online labs are now automated and will not look at a crop before printing. Here’s a nice head shot in the native aspect ratio 3:2, this is what they will get:

PFexample - pamelaannberry 2014-12-12 20-58-26

Allow room and/ or crop beforehand to get the print you are expecting and one to make your clients happy. Your clients will also be grateful knowing they aren’t losing part of the print. Here I allowed for room and made the crop how I want:

KarinsFamily - pamelaannberry 2014-12-12 21-10-54The Bottom Line

Understanding how your camera’s aspect ratio works and apply that to your shots. You understand your crops better then your clients. Your clients likely do not understand why an 8 x 10 won’t work with a picture you took. Keep your pictures print valuable and watch your sales grow and your clients come back.

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