There were interesting discussions tonight during my Street Photography workshop at Bellevue college surrounding cropping versus getting it right in camera. Though I do crop when I have to, I’d say that I’m in the “no cropping” school of thought. While I’m in this category, that’s not to say that I don’t take advantage of my 36 megapixel D800 and crop like crazy when it benefits the image.
That said, my goal is to get it right in the camera so I have a fully visualized image from the get-go. This attitude has sharpened my vision, honed my technical skills and made me a better photographer by taking my time to compose in camera. It also gives me more exercise because I have to use my feet to move around or get closer! When I look at a scene, even without the camera, I am able to visualize what it is I want to convey in an image and how I would compose it within the frame. This drive to get it right without cropping has, indeed, improved my technique and skills as a photographer. I’m forced to look around the edges of the viewfinder and make sure there are no unwanted objects. It slows me down, which in this case, is a good thing.
Then, there are those, like my student tonight, who sees nothing wrong with cropping. He’s also right. I personally like the 4×6 ratio that comes out of my camera. But, admittedly, there are images that benefit from a 1×1 square crop or a panoramic crop. And, yes, there are times when I just can’t get the shot I want because I don’t have the right lens or can’t get close enough to my subject. OK, I admit it, I’ll crop to get what I want instead of hitting the reject button. That doesn’t replace the feeling of accomplishment when I get it right in the camera! And, I don’t want to be a sloppy shooter because “Hey, I’ve got 36 megapixels. I’ll just shoot away and fix it later.”
So, in the end, my goal is to do less and less cropping as I become a better photographer. Maybe someday I won’t need Lightroom or Photoshop at all. Hey, I can dream, right?