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Photo Cropping Guide

Image cropping refers to the resizing of an image either to improve the composition of the image or to fit to a specific format, such as a square. 

Depending on the way the original image was made, cropping can make an image look better...or it can make an image look just plain strange. Not all images look good when cropped to every size. 

Any time cropping occurs some of the original image is removed. I custom crop every image printed by Lux 22 Photography to fit the desired print format and size. 

Cropping guide for different photo size ratios

Cropping guide for different photo size ratios

Another thing to consider when picking images for print, besides the crop ratio, is whether any of the image will be further removed or distorted by the printing process. The best example of this is gallery wrapped canvas prints. When gallery wrapping an image you will often lose a big chunk of the image - like one inch on all sides. When choosing an image for gallery wrap you must select a photo that has a fairly large amount of empty space around the edges. You will see some of the removed parts, but they will appear on the sides of the image, not on the front.

Professional photographers work with clients and photo labs to ensure that your images look great, no matter what the crop or ratio. Consumer labs don't usually custom crop, and your results will be highly variable.


Let's look at a few examples:

Original aspect ratio: 2x3

Original aspect ratio: 2x3

This one of the original images of Mikayla from earlier this month. It was originally shot with the 2x3 ratio, as most digital photos are.







Now let's see when it is arbitrarily cropped to 4x5, the most common print ratio.

Same image, cropped to 4x5 on the left

Same image, cropped to 4x5 on the left

Same image, cropped to 4x5 on the right

Same image, cropped to 4x5 on the right

Same image, cropped to 4x5 on center

Same image, cropped to 4x5 on center

Those all look ok.  I wouldn't mind any of those crops.


Original aspect ratio: 2x3

Original aspect ratio: 2x3

Let's take a look at another image of Mikayla from the same shoot.










And now with the same 4x5 crops.

Same image, cropped to 4x5 with the top of the image

Same image, cropped to 4x5 with the top of the image

Same image, cropped to 4x5 with the center of the image

Same image, cropped to 4x5 with the center of the image

Same image, cropped to 4x5 with the bottom of the image

Same image, cropped to 4x5 with the bottom of the image

Quite a bit of difference with these crops. The center image is a good crop, but the top and bottom crops look unusual. When you work with a consumer lab you might get any one of these crops, and the decision may be arbitrarily made by a computer. Don't risk it - work with a pro!


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