“Crop for Content and Impact – Not Convenience!”
Cropping for Clarity and impact
Cropping can enhance a photo’s message by removing elements that divert the reader’s attention from its center of interest. Cropping also can harm irreparably a photo’s ability to communicate when done indiscriminately.
Any photo worth publishing has an intrinsic shape that best communicates its message. Both photographer and picture editor should agree on the proportions and size that will enable a photograph to speak most effectively.
If a photo is cropped well, everything within the crop marks should be essential to the message. The photo’s shape, therefore, should not be changed to avoid harming the message.
When photos and words compete for space, photos are too often relegated to second-class status because they area perceived as easier to trim than words. Photos in journalism too often are thought of merely as elastic blanks that can shrink or expand to fill spaces left by words.
The most serious kind of photographic abuse occurs when a layout is made before considering the shape and size of the photos. Photos, then, must be cropped to fit the spaces assigned to them, usually with serious harm to their content.
Photos worth publishing should never be hole-fillers in arbitrary layouts.
Self-restraint is a valuable asset for an editor who is deciding whether or not to crop a photo. We should realize that it is not necessary to put crop marks on every photo that crosses his desk. It is important to understand what a photo is trying to say, then, to evaluate how well it is said. If the message is clear, a sharp editor will keep hands off.
PICTURE EDITING AND LAYOUT A GUIDE TO BETTER VISUAL COMMUNICATION ANGUS MCDOUGALL