Before and After II: Cropping

November 28, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

I wanted to write briefly about emotional connections today.  I love photography because it is one of several art forms I feel that is able to convey a strong sense of emotion through visual storytelling.  I'm always striving to be the best visual storyteller I can be... but what does that actually mean practically-speaking?  To me, the difference between a visual storyteller and one who just takes snapshots is intent, how well that story is developed and how well that story is conveyed.   

In photography, sure, you can take a series of photos and it'll tell a story, but often, you only have one frame to tell a compelling story.  The "better" the photo is, the stronger the story is.  In my mind, the stronger the story is, the more compelling the photograph and it makes you wonder a little longer, look around a little longer, and start to notice details you wouldn't otherwise notice.

Cropping is one of those tools that I believe help tell a more compelling story.  In my mind, stronger stories are told through photos when you're able to eliminate all the unnecessary details from a given photo and just leave the essence of the story you're trying to tell.  Cropping definitely helps with that goal.  I've provided an example below from my own body of work to show what I mean.

Below, we have the original image as I shot it out of camera.  It's been fine-tuned for color correction and exposure because out of camera, I felt it needed to be warmer and a little brighter.  Overall, it's not a bad image in my opinion.  However, there's really a lot going on.  It's pretty clear that the two boys in the image are the subject of the photo but because there's so much more going on in the photo (namely, the additional family in the background, the patches upon patches of pumpkins), the impact of the boys' embrace is lost in the photo.

 

Pre-cropPhoto is too busy here

 

In Photo #2, the only thing I modified was how the photo was cropped.  I changed absolutely nothing else.  In Photo #2, it's now very apparent that the main subject I wanted to capture was the boys hugging which for me, evoked the emotion that they're enjoying each others' company at a pumpkin patch.  Cropping helps to remove the non-essential elements out of the frame.  I was luke-warm to Photo #1 until I cropped it to make photo #2.  

 

Post-cropPhoto isolates subjects


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