6 reasons to crop a photo

Crop toolCropping is an easy yet important step to consider when editing photos. Every image editing program has a crop tool that lets you trim, or eliminate, the edges of an image.

Of course not every photo you take needs cropping. However, the visual impact and composition of many photos can be greatly improved when thoughtfully cropped. Not totally convinced? See the illustrations below.

How to crop a digital image

Crop tool

Crop tool

To crop an image, open it in your photo editing program and click on the crop tool. Place the crop tool on one corner of the image and then click-and-drag to select the area you want to keep. The cropped area will appear darker (or lighter, depending on which program you use).

When you are satisfied with the new composition, click the image or press Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac OS) to complete the process.

Remember two things before cropping

Always work on a copy of an original, rather than the original image itself. Some programs automatically open a copy or save your work as a copy. If you work on an original, make a mistake and then save the image, the changes are permanent and can not be undone. However if you preserved the original, you can start the process again using a duplicate copy.

Pixels are removed whenever an image is cropped. If you crop and the resulting image looks pixelated or jagged, undo the action and crop less of the area.

You can crop larger areas when photos are shot at a high resolution rather than a low one. Keep this in mind before taking photos and make sure your camera is set to its highest resolution and image quality.

Reasons to crop a photo

Improve overall composition:

Original

Original

Cropped

Cropped

Focus on the main subject:

Cropped image

Original image

Cropped image

Cropped image

Remove distracting elements:

Original photo

Cropped photo

Cropped image

“Zoom in” on a subject:

Original image

Cropped photo

Change the orientation:

Original: horizontal

Original: horizontal

Change the aspect ratio:

Aspect ratio 3:2

Original aspect ratio 3:2 suitable for a 4×6″ print

New aspect ratio 4:3

New aspect ratio 4:3 suitable for 5×4″ print

Let’s hear from you. Share your thoughts about cropping in the commet section below.

Besides cropping and resizing, all photos were edited using other techniques such as unsharp mask and adjustment layers.

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