As I sat musing the possible choices for a first substantive article for Holy Crop!, I decided upon the concept of isolation.
I often get comments from photographers who explain that radical cropping is unneeded if you get-it-right-in-camera in the first place. Agreed! I have no qualms about this but I also realize that, in a real world, the choices and limitations on any image capture mean that we may not be able to get it as right as we might. That is where cropping comes in to play.
Consider the image “Flower Girl Prepares” from one of my past wedding shoots. This shot is a candid. It was only going to happen once and even the act of stepping into the shot one more stride meant the moment would be past-and missed. I would have liked to have changed lenses. I would have liked to move the subjects to a nicer background. I would have liked to have changed the light slightly. For all the ‘I would have liked’s’ in my mind, there was no time. I had to get the shot!
When cropping we are after the strongest image we can obtain from the raw material provided. In this case, a tight crop to emphasize the girl and her mother, were necessary to strengthen the story and to eliminate the many background distractions. Notice how much more compelling the image is when the flower girl’s face becomes dominant.
To be fair, this image has had more work than just a crop but the crop was the first step in eliminating those parts of the image which needed removing rather than repairing. All of the remaining edits were designed to isolate and improve the central story of the image using contrast and color.
Isolation: This is why we crop. It isn’t the only reason.
In future articles we will explore many topics concerning cropping and how an already-great image can be tweaked by carving away small pieces.
Rikk Flohr © 2010