I am going to show you three photographs, with successive degrees of crop.
Do you crop? I generally detest cropping. It irritates the hell out me. Yet, there are times when I have to.
I am old.
I am grey.
I have a stoop and a toothless grin.
This means that I belong to the old school of thought, which believes that you should be able to compose and make a photograph without cropping it. Since the time that I started to photograph, however, India’s population has grown by 70%. That is a whopping increase. This means that, when I am doing street photography, for instance there are more people on the streets, and that movement has become quite frenetic.
No wonder when, I get caught in stampedes, I get shoved into ditches.
More to the point, getting a perfect composition becomes very difficult at times. There are times when you do need to crop.
Most newsletters and Aunty’s columns that I have read recently on the subject of cropping give you two bits of advice:
- Do not crop too close
- Do not crop to wide
It’s a bit like saying – don’t eat too much. Of course you should not eat too much, but the definition of ‘eating too much’ is determined by
- your physical characteristics
- your physiology
- your health
- your weight
Then, you define how much is ‘too much’.
Similar principles define how much to crop. My two bits of advice, or guidance, would be
- Does the cropping take away elements from your story? (too close)
- Does the cropping include/ keep elements that distract from your story (too wide)
The paradigm that defines how much you should crop is determined by the story you want to tell.
Look at the three pictures below. What, in your mind, is the most effective crop, and what story does each crop tell?
This is a picture of three women sitting outside the Banke Bihari Temple during Holi celebrations in Vrindavan, while waiting for the temple doors to open.
Original Picture: No crop
Picture Two: Slight Crop
Picture Three: Closer crop