If You’re Going to Crop Your Photographs, Do it Right (VIDEO)

Should you crop your photos or leave them alone? How much can you crop an image without degrading resolution and ruining the quality? Are there specific cropping rules to follow, or does the technique vary from photo to photo?

In the video below from the Adorama YouTube channel you’ll find answers to these and other questions, as NY-based sports/celebrity photographer David Bergman explains when and how to crop your images. Berman notes that cutting into an image is actually a helpful compositional tool when it’s too late to go back and reshoot a photograph.

Depending upon the lens you’re using and the resolution of your camera, it may make sense to frame an image loosely and crop it later. Other times you may want to shoot tight and avoid cropping altogether. And still other times you’ll need to do a bit of cropping after straightening a crooked horizon or to eliminate a distracting element near one edge of the frame.

Bergman demonstrates the when, where, why, and how of cropping, and he discusses the pros and cons of cropping images in the camera vs. on the computer. He also illustrates the difference between cropping for composition, and cropping to remove dead space.

As Bergman notes, some photographers prefer to use images straight out of the camera without any cropping at all. While Bergman’s preference it to get it right in the camera, he doesn’t consider himself a “purist” and has no problem with refining an image after it’s captured with a bit of cropping. He says this is particularly true when shooting sports, because the action often flies by rapidly and he’s busy concentrating on exposure and focus.

When is comes to how and where to crop an image, Bergman notes that the process in part art and part science—without specific rules. But he demonstrates a few techniques he uses himself as a visual storyteller, to help guide a viewer’s eye through a photograph. Like other subjective techniques, you’ll want to experiment until you become more confident about what you are trying to convey with your imagery.

After watching this tutorial, head over to the Adorama YouTube channel for more helpful shooting and editing tips from top pros.