Best Practices Composition Visual Design

Composition: Cropping Photos by Julia Yang on October 03, 2019

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Summary

The cropping of this photo forces us to focus only on the important details by removing the distracting elements, such as the ceiling corner and piano legs. What remains is a well-balanced, almost abstract image that highlights the similarities between the pianist and his piano, both of which have a similar shape and angle within the frame.
The cropping of this photo forces us to focus only on the important details by removing the distracting elements, such as the ceiling corner and piano legs. What remains is a well-balanced, almost abstract image that highlights the similarities between the pianist and his piano, both of which have a similar shape and angle within the frame.

Simply put, cropping is the re-framing of your image, a way to redefine the edges and proportions of what is shown within the frame. Unlike other aspects of photographic composition, which are usually applied as you take a photo, cropping can also happen in post-production, after a photo has already been taken.

While too much cropping can lead to a decrease in image quality or cause a photo to appear awkward or unnatural, thoughtful cropping can be used to:

  • Emphasize a focal point
  • Remove distracting elements
  • Tell a story / create intrigue
  • Improve a mediocre image
  • Adjust the aspect ratio for social media or print

Takeaway

It isn’t necessary to crop every image, but if used with the right understanding of compositional principles, cropping can become a powerful tool. Furthermore, with the rise of digital media, it is almost inevitable that we will all come across and use images (whether taken by ourselves or others) that could benefit from a thoughtful crop.

In this famous portrait of Pablo Picasso, only 35% of the original shot was used. Note how the the artist’s mood and personality come through even more strongly with the closer crop.
In this famous portrait of Pablo Picasso, only 35% of the original shot was used. Note how the the artist’s mood and personality come through even more strongly with the closer crop.

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