What do these images in this article have in common?
It became apparent to me while judging a recent photography competition that powerful image cropping is still little-understood to today’s digital photographer. I don’t know whether it is an unwillingness to delete any of the precious megapixels or an aversion to any aspect ratio that doesn’t fit an off-the-shelf matte or frame. Perhaps it is some other reason
Back to the photo competition. One of the other judges commented to me that they would have ranked several images, which didn’t place at all, much higher if they could have just cropped them differently. Indeed, many times during the heated debate over a particular image, the strength of a different crop came up. Quite literally, an image in the group that didn’t make honorable mention, would have placed first or second with a modest crop.
I had judged a different competition earlier in the year where a particular shooter had done quite well, ribbon-wise. Their images were very well-done and they all had an aspect ratio other than their camera’s 3:2. When I performed the judging at their awards banquet, I commented several times on several different images how I felt the artist had been bold with their crop. Little did I know that every crop upon which I commented was done by the same photographer. One photographer in the group had been outside the camera’s aspect ratio with their cropping and walked away with many awards. There is a lesson to learn there.
Strong Cropping Can Make Strong Images Stronger!
- Don’t crop only to your camera’s aspect ratio
- Avoid cropping only to fit a frame or a matte aspect ratio
- Crop to make the image the strongest it possibly can be
- Non-standard cropping, coupled with with a strong subject, catches your eye and wins competitions
So what do these three images above have in common?
None of them fit an off-the-shelf frame or matte. They were all cropped to improve composition and strengthen the image.
Sit in judgment on your own images and make them as strong as they can be before you submit them for judgment.
Rikk Flohr © 2010