Continuing from Parts 1 and 2, we are discussing the first of the three Cs: Crop.
When we left off we talked about cropping an image to strength the inherent story in the image. Sometimes, however, you want to tell a specific story with an image or multiple stories with an image or fragments of the image. In this case, you are bending your will to the photograph instead of letting the photograph guide you.
|In this uncropped image, we have two men standing on a beach with surf driving in. The man on the left has a motion picture camera in his hands. The image tells a strong story already. But it can also be carved into additional stories.|
|In the first crop, I have isolated the man on the right and placed him dynamically in the frame. He is point at something. What? The story of the image has changed drastically and this picture could be used for purposes for which the uncropped picture wouldn’t.|
In the second crop, I have isolated the man on the left. He has been placed in a nice Rule of Thirds location. This is an image of a man standing on a beach filming a boat on the horizon. The surf in this image is not as threatening and it conveys a different emotional intensity.
Without the distraction of the pointing man on the right, it becomes an image about the cameraman and his craft. But we’re not done with this image. Other crops and other stories are possible.
In this crop, I’ve come in tighter and made the tension between the opposing interests of the two subjects the story. Is this why Sea Monsters are never caught on camera? The witness and the cameraman are pointing different directions?
Maybe you just need a shot of surf for the background of another image, composition or layout. Don’t be afraid to scan your images for corners, elements and patterns you can use elsewhere. By cropping the men out of this image, I have created a usable stock image of a wave breaking on a sandy beach. I didn’t have to go out and buy an image, I just took a fragment of one I had and made it suit my purpose by cropping!
Crop number five is much like crop one except that it is vertical and it concentrates on the beach rather than the waves, ocean and sky. By choosing this crop, the reflection of the pointing man becomes more prominent and can be accentuated as a design element. To my eye, it makes the man look like he pointing more along the beach and less out to see than in crop one. The story has changed slightly even though the subject has not.
This crop is about standing on the beach. We don’t see pointing or filming or waves crashing or sky. We do see sand. We do see reflections. This picture tells a story different from any so far and could be used for different purpose.
In the final analysis, there are many ways to crop an image. You can let the image’s inherent story dictate the crop or you can let the story you need to tell guide your crop. Many images have multiple stories and multiple crops to get you to the image which tells your story of the moment. Try different crops on your images to better tell a story or tell a different story.
In the next part of this article on the three Cs, we will grapple with the concept of contrast.
Rikk Flohr © 2007