Want to improve your photos in one easy step?
For better photos you should crop close for impact. And make your subject fill the frame.
In this post, I'll share four examples of photos improved by close cropping. I'll also share examples of bad cropping and help you avoid this.
Crop And Pop!
Cropping to make your subject fill the frame is pretty easy and works really well, especially if you shoot in raw.
This tip works best with subjects like flowers, people and pets – or anything that doesn't need supporting elements.
You can apply this tip while shooting and when editing your photos. It isn't always easy to shoot as close as you would like: there may be obstacles you can't get around. Sometimes your only option to help your subject stand out is by cropping in on it while editing.
Crop Close For Impact And Watch Your Pictures Pop
Cropping in close is really fun and often surprising. It forces you to look at your pictures in different ways and from different angles.
You'll notice interesting aspects of your subjects you didn't realize while shooting. It also helps to get rid of distracting elements, which take away from your subject.
Here are four examples of how filling the frame can make a difference. I share the original shots and then the final product.
These are all pictures that I filled the frame with by cropping during editing. Filling the frame during shooting speaks for itself.
Crop In On What You Love Most
We were heading to the beach for a bonfire one evening and on the way we passed these beautiful flowers. They were growing next to the road so I jumped out for a capture. I love the light in this shot!
Roadside Flowers: Example #1
I like the original of this flower, but I especially love the light and textures near the center.
Sometimes it doesn't feel right to cut out part of the subject, but it can help to make the photo more interesting and unique.
Shooting Fire: Example #2
I really like shooting fire, there is something so captivating about it. Each shot is different and much depends on factors that are out of the photographers control, like wind and sparks…
Cropping in on the flame helps draw attention to the shape it's taking. Our eye is also drawn to the object it's burning, the textures and colors it's creating.
Llamas at the Zoo: Example #3
There are so many photo opportunities at the zoo!
These llamas were friendly, but I was still nervous they might want to spit at me, so I didn't want to get too close. This llama looks cute in this shot, but there are a lot of distracting elements, like the butt of the other llama (lower left) and the people in the background…
After cropping in, the distractions are out of the way and more attention is drawn to his eyes and ears, which I love. Look at those lashes, and how the light is shining through his fuzzy ears and down the left side of his face, sweet!
Nova Scotia Wild Blueberries: Example #4
This last example is of some wild blueberries I picked in our backyard. Blueberries are my favorite food, I wanted to get them in natural light with some green (from the grass) and some distortion from the glass container. Looking yummy! Here is what the original pic looks like…
And here it is after cropping in. I still have the green and the distortion and, because the berries are the major focal point, I want to eat them even more.
Deciding What Not To Crop
What should you crop? It depends on you – remember: photography is an art form. You can play with as many different crop options as you like – and see what fits your creative vibe. I love the history panel in Photoshop, it allows me to back out of it as many times I want. Don't worry – there's nothing scary about it! I'll be sharing a tutorial about how to crop in Photoshop in the future.
Not everyone will agree on whether or not your final product is better than your original photo – and that's okay. It's like that with many art forms. Not everyone likes the same painters or sculptors. And even if you love one, you may not love every piece they've created. So have fun and do what feels right to you.
With that being said there are some things you'll want to avoid, like cropping out too much, or cropping too close on out of focus or noisy/grainy photos (like the llama above.) Just look at what happens when I do that.
With this crop I cut out the cool textures and colors at the base of the flame. Although the shape at the top of the flame is nice, the photo is not as visually interesting.
I was hand-holding my camera when I got this shot of the llama, so it's not as sharp as I would like. The ISO is also a little high (400) which adds noise/grain to the image. With a crop like this the noise stands out more (in the background around the top of the head) so the picture is not as pleasing to the eye. It's also cut too close to the left side of his face which feels a little claustrophobic.
As you play with various ways to crop your photos, you'll learn what feels right and what doesn't. Don't be afraid to try. Just crop away, back out and try something different.
What tips about cropping and popping would you share? Please share by commenting on this post.