A Bumper Crop?

Sometimes I think it pays to look really critically at a shot and ask yourself, honestly, is there too much in it? Does it REALLY convey the message or story you WANT it to convey or is it suffering significantly from  clutter and/or distraction? I know sometimes it can seem like butchering your art to crop a shot but there are occasions when it can pay off. Crops can be square, rectangular (portrait or landscape); whatever you want really. The key objective of cropping a shot should be to lay emphasis on what YOU found interesting; YOUR reason for taking the photo in the first place. It can also, of course, be used to get rid of distractions; bits of the picture that pull your eye away from the main reason for the pic in the first place! In my two examples, I found the white lion on the knight’s tabbard was pulling my eye away and down from the head and facial features – my key point of interest. So I cropped to retain the face and helmet and remove the lion. Of course the decision as to whether or not to crop is yours and yours alone. But ask yourself objectively, can it improve the presentation?


Knight with lion

Knight without lion!




  • Simple advice Nick but quite often overlooked. I did a shoot recently at Oulton Park capturing the BTCC races and cropping images to leave just the car and a small section of the track really maximised the impact. We work in reverse to painters who start with a blank canvas and add detail; photographers start with a full canvas and are required to remove detail. Which of the two is more difficult? You decide. Keep up the good work Nick.

    July 3, 2012
    • Good point Melvin! Cheers for the comment.

      July 3, 2012
  • Leigh Woolford

    Thanks for another interesting Blog Nick. I really like that crop Melvin and often use space to position my subject exactly where I want it in the frame. Nick, I’d be interested to see a blog on the positive use of (empty) space within a photograph.

    July 3, 2012
  • Nils Karlson

    I think cropping is very useful when you have to work fast on location. so when I make pictures of my running and playing dogs, cropping can be very useful (especially as I onle have one fix lens for my dslr). When I’m in the landscape with my bulky medium format film camera, I take much more time for composition and try to see every picture as a ‘winner’. So the only thing I will do in post production are minor tweaks. Sometimes I wil crop the picture when I feel that a different ratio (I just love the square format) will help the picture. But even this is a decision I will make on location before i press the shutter.

    July 3, 2012
  • Sometimes I “see” the shot I want to end up with but can’t get it ‘in camera’ due to the lens I have at the time, or there being too much clutter around the subject. Therefore I do use a lot of post-processing cropping to isolate my subject to get what I saw in the first place! The extra pixels on the 5D are really helpful here.

    July 3, 2012

Leave a comment


Email(will not be published)*


Your comment*

Submit Comment

© Copyright 2014 Freespirit Images - Website designed by Cardiff Creative