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DPChallenge Forums >> Individual Photograph Discussion >> Crop the top of someones head or not?
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06/20/2007 06:54:39 PM · #1
i'm sure this is a newbie question, but i received a good comment about my transition shot. They said i shouldn't have cropped the head. I was told once that you are suppose to. I looked though some of the portraiture shots on here and there is a large mix of cropped/uncropped. Seems like the closer to the subject the more likely the top of the head is cropped. I wanna make sure i dont make the same mistake twice.

So i guess my question is: Whats the rule of thumb on this subject. Is there a guideline for when you crop and when you don't?

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06/20/2007 07:10:07 PM · #2
Well, I think it depends on the picture. Sometimes (usually in closer portraits) one crops the head to create a tighter frame to draw more attention to the face and eyes. In a shot like this (more far away and no faces really showing) it makes the composition seem a bit cramped. For an image like this, having more space above, and maybe more to one of the sides (to take advantage of the rule of thirds) would improve the composition. It really just depends on the image, and you start developing an eye for these things as you go along. That's a very nice moment you've captured there too.
:]
06/20/2007 07:24:02 PM · #3
I would say whatever looks best and conveys what you want it to.

I think in a photo with 2 people it just doesn't look good. She gets her head and he doesn't... to me it's odd, esp because it's so far away everwhere else. Maybe if it was a portrait on the same plain but even that I don't know, I'd have to see it.

For close ups it's really nice if done correctly. A lot of headshot photographers do this, Kevyn Mayjor Howard Headshots for example.
06/20/2007 07:29:09 PM · #4
For certain captures the top of the head is implied. Nice capture you have there. I don't know what type of file you have but a nice tight crop of both of thier faces would be nice on this one. That would really show of her hair and you could de-emphasize his.
06/20/2007 07:31:43 PM · #5
I would say yes crop the top in tighter closer shots, but not in torso or more shots as a general rule, for example this crop of your shot
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for me would be fine to loose the top.
FWIW I perfer your crop because it convays more emotion.
06/20/2007 07:33:16 PM · #6
The rule of thumb among portraiturists is: Crop the head if needed but NEVER crop the chin, it makes the composition look funny and takes away a very important part of recognizability.
06/20/2007 07:37:16 PM · #7
Originally posted by Shadowi6:

I would say yes crop the top in tighter closer shots, but not in torso or more shots as a general rule, for example this crop of your shot
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for me would be fine to loose the top.
FWIW I perfer your crop because it convays more emotion.


While rules are made to be broken and the most important criterion is simply what you think works best, this is probably not a bad starting point.

Hey, it worked for me in this shot:

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06/20/2007 08:10:42 PM · #8
Thanks for all the great thoughts! They really helped.
06/20/2007 08:39:04 PM · #9
My opinion... if there is something more important going on down below, then crop the top. Corollary, if there is something distracting on top (like baldness or fly away hair) then crop it.

I think your original does fine even though there isn't much going on down below because the rest of the image implies a sense of stature, something that is lost in the closer crops posted here.

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