Basic Editing

Cropping a digital image

Written by Gail Bjork

Cropping changes the size of a photo by removing unnecessary parts of it. Cropping is very useful to bring attention to the main subject.

Cropped imageCropping is a way to improve the composition of a digital photo. By using the crop tool found in all image editing programs, unwanted or distracting portions of the edges of a photo are removed. Cropping also lets you visually focus in on the main subject.

Before printing or having a photo printed by a photo processor, crop it to fit the paper size you plan to use. This gives you, rather than the photo processor, total control over how an image is cropped.

When cropping, or doing any type of image editing for that matter, always work on a copy of the original, rather than the original itself. If you make a mistake, the original is still available to start again.

Basic steps for cropping a photo

  1. Open a photo in the editing program.
  2. Select the cropping tool.
  3. Select an aspect ratio a standard print if you intend to have the photo printed.
  4. Position the tool in a top area of your image where you want the crop to begin. Next drag the tool until the desired area is outlined.
  5. Next click OK or on the crop tool icon. Select undo if you are not satisfied with your selection.
  6. Save the image in the desired file format such as JPEG and give the file a new name. Renaming an edited file prevents overwriting the original.

For some ideas on how to crop a photo, refer to this article on why crop a photo!

Aspect ratios for popular print sizes

Standard size Aspect ratio
3.5 x 5″ or 4 x 6″ 2:3
5 x 7″ 5:7
8 x 10″ 5:4

* Some printer drivers have a tool to crop images just prior to printing.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.