DON’T Ruin Your Photos By Making Beginner Cropping Mistakes (VIDEO)

Cropping is a simple and effective way to fix poorly composed images, turn a horizontal shot into a vertical one, or get rid of distracting elements. And if you’re caught out in the field without a telephoto lens, cropping is an effective way to get in tight on a distant subject—especially if you’re using a hi-res camera.

In fact, some photographers intentionally compose photographs loosely, so they can refine their composition with precision during the editing process. That said, as easy as it is to slice into an image, if you make dumb mistakes you can really spoil a shot. The point of this straightforward tutorial is how to handle this simple task properly.

In the video below, Pye Jirsa of SLR lounge provides a definitive guide to understanding crops, where and where not to cut, and how you can often avoid this task completely with proper framing techniques in the camera. And he demonstrates all this and more in barely 10 minutes.

This episode is geared specifically toward portrait imagery, but you can apply some of the principles to other forms of photography, like when shooting animals or sporting events. One mistake to avoid is cropping at the joints of a body. That means never cropping at the feet, knees, elbows, or hips. Put bluntly, a subject missing limbs isn’t a good look.

As you’ll see, Jirsa recommends cropping at what he calls “tapering points,” or where body parts like thighs are slimming or narrowing as they exit the frame. This often results in more flattering images. This rule, like others he discusses, have exceptions depending upon whether your subject is male or female.

After describing these more general techniques, Jirsa spends the rest of the tutorial demonstrating his favorite crops for portrait photos. This is where you can find some really great ideas to emulate in your own work.

If you’d like to see more of Jirsa’s tips and tricks, all you have to do is visit the SLR Lounge YouTube channel. And we encourage you to check out a related story we posted recently, describing the relative merits of cropping, zooming, and zooming with your feet.