Friday, March 29, 2013

Improve a Portrait by Cropping

I've finally got to sneak out and take some photos! Bree found me on Model Mayhem, and I'm so glad she did! It was my first time working with a real model, and she made it so easy. You can check out some more photos with the hat here and with the shell necklace here.

We wanted to take some photos for Bree's portfolio that wouldn't be too Hawaii-y (since she lives there she wanted something different). Well, since I'm a huge fan of cropping and cropping then some more, we could easily take photos that wouldn't give away the location. Without further ado, I thought I'd share what goes through my mind when cropping photos.

So this is the original photo. Bree's looking all sultry and cute, but I think there's too much going on for the photo to have a punch as a portrait.

Now this is more like it, already you're more drawn to her eyes.

A liittle more, eliminating more distractions in the background.

Some more. This is my favorite crop. I feel that the closer the crop (with both eyes still visible), the closer you feel to the subject in the shot, and can get a better sense of the mood.

Cropped even more! This half-face works for head on shots. I like this since it leaves a little mystery.

Another example:

Original photo. It's cute, but I want her to have more "air" on the side she's looking to, than on the opposite side.

That's better in terms of her gaze. Now she has space to look into, but I've cut out the extra stuff from the right side and cropped a little tighter.

(I bought this shell necklace in Portugal a few years back)

This one I like, since the shells in her hair don't have to compete with the graphics in her dress. 

Cropped even tighter! Not showing the whole shoulder, but still gives her air to look into. I love how Bree looks all Pocahontas-y :)

So there you go, a couple of examples on how just cropping can make your portraits stand out.
 Hopefully this helps you to make the most out of your portraits, even if you've just taken some fun shots of your friends or kids.

Cropping too tight is not an option if you want to show the location (for example, when travelling or documenting a party etc), but adding a few of cropped portraits of interesting people into your travel album will definitely strengthen your storytelling.

More photos with the hat here and with the shell necklace here.


PS: I always shoot in RAW so the quality is high even when cropping tightly (but you need an application that can handle RAW files). And if you don't have that possibility, and the photo gets grainy while cropping tighter, you have to see if the grain adds to the photo, or not, which is totally up to you.

 It is of course better for the quality of the image to crop it while taking the photo (aka zooming or getting closer). Sometimes you just don't know what you want from a photo before you see it on the screen, or already took that one awesome one with too big of a crop because you had a different idea for the photo.


  1. Thank you so very much for the tips. I will be analyzing my crops a little more next time. Beautiful photos!

  2. very cool. I like seeing the difference cropping made in the feel of the photos

  3. I love these Photo tips! So lovely. I am so glad I stumbled upon your blog. I love the design, it is so lovely. I will definitely be following you on Bloglovin! xx. McKenna Lou
    p.s. Be sure to enter in our Lisa Leonard $50 giveaway! Today is the last day.

    1. Thank you, that's so sweet! Just checked out your blog, I love your food photos :)