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Sometimes, you should delibrately cut off the top of heads

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  • Sometimes, you should delibrately cut off the top of heads

    In other words, a lot of the times it is actually good to crop off the top of the head of your subject when you take a portrait of them.

    So many times, I see beginner photographers think that when they take a portrait, they HAVE to include all of the head in the photo. That is not the case.

    Many times, a portrait is actually made more powerful when the photographer delibrately crops 'tight' into the subject. Why is it made more powerful?

    Cropping in tight can 'force' the viewer to concentrate on what is important in the portrait: the eyes, face, and hands and other limbs (if present). Cropped in, the eyes are now larger relative to the size of the frame, drawing the viewer in yet further. It is quite literally 'in your face'. Usually, the top of the subject's head is of little interest to the overall subject matter in a portrait, so taking away that 'visual fluff' will not hurt the power of the portrait. It will only enhance it.

    Cropping in tight fills the photo with the subject, enhancing their presence for the viewer. The portrait has more impact. In fact, elsewhere in this forum I have stated that one of the single most effective ways of making your portraits immediately 'better' is to shoot tight, or crop in tight in the dDarkroom. Don't believe me? Try it. You'll be pleasantly surprised by how much more 'power' a tighter cropped portrait can make...

    Here are a few examples of mine that hopefully illustrate the impact of tight cropping:

    1.
    Name:  d8bc295c235edd06e3999f10345c667b.jpg
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    Lighting: Hot-shoe flash on-camera, bounced onto ceiling and wall of client house.

    2.
    Name:  ee1bdb14eca8ff23d06965dcdc441fba.jpg
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    Lighting: Natural daylight (shade).

    3.
    Name:  2a96b52d3ea3e82481d0939bb6105ea5.jpg
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    Lighting: Three studio flashes. One behind, the other two in a 'clamshell' arrangement in front of subject.

    4.
    Name:  dcfa7e10c46b29db5ad1ab4b660110b1.jpg
Views: 1
Size:  60.2 KB
    Lighting: Single continuous studio light.

    5.
    Name:  e6a9082a1396d2a0944dd4cb959bd68c.jpg
Views: 1
Size:  155.2 KB
    Lighting: Hot-shoe flash on-camera, bounced onto ceiling and wall.

    6.
    Name:  a6013961c4bf6b1f0852b1d4eb994b05.jpg
Views: 2
Size:  74.7 KB
    Lighting: Natural daylight (shade).

    Go on... give it a try...

    M

  • #2
    Certainly draws attention to eyes Em, but when does or does this not work ?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Seesee View Post
      Certainly draws attention to eyes Em, but when does or does this not work ?
      Great question, Colin.

      No hard and fast rules here (as is the case with most of photography).

      I guess it boils down to individual preference and what the photographer is trying to achieve in the portrait.

      One thing cropping tight is NOT good for is for environmental portraits where the context of the physical space around the subject is just as important as the subject itself.

      Hope this goes partway to answering your question?

      What do other members think about all this? Have any of you tried tight cropping of your portraits?

      M



      * Posted using my smartphone. Please excuse my brevity. *

      Comment


      • #4
        I traditionally don't photograph people, but as I am being forced into it more and more I know I WANT to crop tighter, but I am still too scared to do it for some reason - I love it when others do it - those first and second & third images are spectacular IMO. I should just throw caution to the wind and give it a go....I guess I can always hit the BACK button if I don't like it.

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        • #5
          [QUOTE=emPhoto;139861]

          What do other members think about all this? Have any of you tried tight cropping of your portraits?

          M

          I seldom take portraits, but I have tried to use this technique occasionally with family and friends. Here's some of my experimental efforts, if you don't mind me adding to your thread M?







          Last edited by Alan; 04-04-2012, 11:13 PM.
          Alan

          Still trying to make the ordinary look extraordinary

          D7000 | D90 | Coolpix S31 | iPhone 6s | Mac

          Flickr

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          • #6
            ummmmmm....I guess this isn't what you mean ?




            Uploaded with ImageShack.us

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            • #7
              Haha Colin, I suspect not.

              Michael, I love your second portrait, really does it for me.............and Alan, that first one of your is stunning, no other word for it.
              Andrew

              (Grumpy old fart with some Nikon stuff)
              www.aslanimages.com.au https://www.facebook.com/AslanImagesPhotography

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              • #8
                funny i should come across this thread, i had a client who got a canvas with her print credit, and cos the size of the canvas was different ratio to the image i had to crop in, and she wanted her dress showing, so i had to compromise and cut off her head so as i didn't cut into her hands at the wrists (making it look weird) but i got an email asking why it was so cut off, and why most of her head was missing (was cut just below the hairline, she had big hair hehe) i did offer to redo the canvas and explained about ratios but have not heard back from her..
                or ....?

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                • #9
                  I have been accused of leaving too much head space. Maybe if I try cropping very tightly I may achieve the right balance if I average things out.

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                  • #10
                    I could be wrong, most likely are ..... but in my mind this only really works well if the shot/subject has extra nice eyes to draw more attention to them....thoughts ?

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                    • #11
                      I absolutely love that 2nd shot!. love love love it!.
                      thank you em once again your an asset mate!.
                      Its not paranoia if everyone is actually watching you
                      MY Flickr
                      Scotty's Place

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                      • #12
                        And i think soo too col. It needs something of interest to make you forget the top was even there in the first place.
                        Its not paranoia if everyone is actually watching you
                        MY Flickr
                        Scotty's Place

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                        • #13
                          some good tips there, thanks for sharing

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