To Crop or Not To Crop

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, dog-picture2I 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?

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