Crop Guide: What you need to know about picture sizes

Photo Crop Guide

Without going into a lot of technical mumbo jumbo, I am going to explain to you (the Client) what cropping is, and how it can dramatically change your picture once it’s printed. Below is also a visual crop guide.

First, when a picture is taken with a DSLR is does not take an 8×10, 11×14, etc picture (I know, surprising ). Most cameras take a picture that is equivalent to the aspect ratio of a 4×6 picture or 3:2, which means other sizes that do not have that aspect ratio (such as an 8×10 which has a 5:4 aspect ratio) will need to have the picture cropped in order to achieve that size. You’re lost aren’t you? A 8×10 is bigger so why would you have to crop it? I’m not going to go into grave detail about why. Instead just know that if you don’t want ANY part of your picture cropped, you will need to choose a print size that has an aspect ratio of 3:2 which are the following sizes (4×6, 6×9, 8×12, 10×15, 12×18, 16×24, 20×30, 24×36).

So what happens when you decide to purchase the digital negative from your session and take it to Wal-Mart? More than likely you will have heads and limbs chopped off (not to mention the color will probably be horrible). Why? Because places like Wal-Mart, typically crop from the center of the picture. They do not take the time, as your professional photographer would (that’s me), to recompose the crop in order to make sure no important details, like a head, are chopped off.

Even when you do order straight from me, you still need to understand how a picture might crop. Although I always try to take in account that you may want a non 3:2 ratio picture, and during our pre-consult we go over what sizes you are looking to purchase, I do not know what kind of prints or sizes you may ultimately choose for your space (which is common when it comes to ordering gallery wraps and clusters which may have very non-traditional print sizes).

During your reveal session, if you choose a portrait that may crop too much, I will let you know. If you order a portrait that is shot say close up, and you want it in a non 3:2 aspect ratio size, it will incur some cropping, however, I will do my best to make sure that the print still comes out looking amazing. If I don’t like the way it is cropped, I will send you a proof so you can make the final decision of ordering it or if you would like to order a different size.

I know that some of you may be reading this and are still scratching your head. You must be like me, I am more of a visual person, so to show you what different crops can do to a picture, here is a guide to help you visualize it:

Photo Crop Guide

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