So we are talking about cropping, and in part one I talked about visual tension. The isn’t just for the top and bottom of the frame, but also the sides. Most of the time if you have about the same general distance between the subject and frame, that is a good starting point. But, as we know photography is all about telling a visual story and so there is more to it than just lining up the spaces. People for instance have limbs and faces that tend to go in certain directions ie… they have gesture and they need to be taken into consideration.

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When cropping think about the gesture of the body and direction they are looking

In the image above, Sofia’s face and body are angled to the left along with the elbow and hand helping give a visual push in that direction. If you crop trying to put her more along the rule of thirds line to the left… she will feel cramped and tense on the left. Almost as if she is about to run into a wall.


Right idea: Sofia is a bit off axis from the center, but because of her gesture, it feels cramped and tense on the left

So now if you move Sofia over to the right side of the image it gives her somewhere to go… you have given her a place to breathe. I have intentionally put her just a bit too close to the right side to show how our eyes will forgive being a little to close to the edge the subject is moving away from rather than the one they are moving to. Your eyes will still feel a bit of tension with this crop but not as bad. This is important to know because sometimes you have only so much room to crop and so you have to decide which side to cut close… almost always choose the side that gesture is moving away from.


Even though it is too close on the right… it feels better

So if you will pay attention to the gesture of your subjects, it can help guide you in how to crop and that will make you a better story teller. Stay tuned for part 3 where to crop body parts.