But What About Cropping?

Just a very short post today. Just thinking out loud, actually, but a thought I would like to put out here nonetheless.

Cropping. A word and deed that can cause controversy in some photographic circles. For some, cropping their images is just a matter of course. For others it is sacrilege and must be avoided at all cost. While others are neither here nor there on the subject. For my own part, I used to be in the “shoot it and crop it later” camp. I would frame the shot making sure all the essential elements were within the frame then take the shot. Later on in the darkroom (years ago when I had a darkroom) I would crop the image to more accurately fit the vision I had for that shot. Later, when I went to digital, that turned to cropping in Photoshop/Lightroom.

But then something happened. I’m not exactly sure what it was or where it came from but a a voice in my head whispered to me, “Why are you being lazy on shots you could spend just seconds or mere minutes on by moving and re-framing the shot? Why are you degrading the quality of the image by unnecessarily blowing it up through cropping when you don’t have to?”. It was true. I was compromising the best possible negative/RAW file because I was being lazy and anxious to shoot.

It was a few years ago, when I returned to film, that I made the conscience decision that I would no longer rely cropping at edit time. If at all possible, that is. What I have found is that my enjoyment of shooting has increased as I actively search for the right position to get the image on film that I am seeing in my head. There are times when the scene won’t allow me to get exactly the framing I want, but I fully expect that and have no problem cropping in those instances. But the days of shooting and cropping later as a matter of policy are gone and I feel I have a much more rich photographic experience because of it.

What are your feelings on the subject of cropping? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

God Bless and Happy Shooting!

4 thoughts on “But What About Cropping?

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  1. I crop if the aspect ratio is not ideal for the composition or if its not possible to reframe or move around. I’m mainly using primes now and it has forced me to slow down and be more thoughtful. My images have improved! But I think it’s because I’m being more thoughtful and not simply because of using primes etc. Its easy to get caught up in rules that can end up hindering if they are relied on too much. A bit like landscape photography must always be ultra wide…but I digress!

  2. This is such a good post! I was in the same path as you and, just like you, had this epiphany where I realised I was doing myself a disservice. Since then I frame up my shots more carefully and maximise image quality. I might add that just as Subfrequenz above I do crop for format – I have a soft spot for square photographs, even from my 35mm. Still though, I have already photographed the image to maximise for square.

    1. I’m glad I’m not alone. Personally I see nothing wrong with cropping to format. While I must admit to feeling guilty after doing so, I have done it as well.

  3. I’ve always been in the frame it properly up front camp (35mm negs are small enough without wasting real estate and in the digital era I don’t like spending time at the computer) but there are times when the scene doesn’t suit the format I’m using in which case I will crop on the enlarger with an easy conscience 👍

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