Photo Tip Friday: Understanding How to Crop Photos

by Mary Denman  @MaryDenman   

Why is it important to understand how to crop photos? 

There are a couple of reasons. 

1) By learning to crop a photo properly, you can remove the unwanted parts of the picture. The distractions, the business in the background, the clutter, and thereby improve the composition of the shot. (More on this in another post.)

2) You need to understand cropping if you are planning on printing your photos. 

Today's article is going to cover reason two. 

Why? Because the holidays are fast approaching and you can give your photos as gifts to loved ones! 

Let's get started for a better understanding of how to crop your photos. 

First, let's go over the basics of what some of the standard sizes are: 4x6, 5x7, 8x10, squares of 4x4, 5x5, and 8x8

Not every store prints squares and you can choose much larger sizes than 8x10, but I'm sticking with 4x6, 5x7, 8x10 and a square format for this article. 

So, how does cropping affect a photo? Let's look at the first example. 

SERIES 1: A weathered chair. 

I could go into aspect ratios, but for right now, I want you to look at the photos. 

As I changed the size, notice that how much of the chair I could get into the photo.

Do you see the differences that occur because of the constraints of each of the sizes? The 4x6 matched my original shot. You can see how I left a little space around the chair in the picture. 

But then as I changed to 5x7, it altered what could be in the photo. As did the 8x10 and square picture. 

What can you learn from this? 

TIP 1: Understand that when you choose to print your photos, you need to pay attention to which size best captures the look you want. This chair shot looks great on my computer screen and as a 4x6, but doesn't have the same look in an 8x10 or square. 

SERIES 2: My daughter.

In this example, I had plenty of room around my daughter's face so that as I cropped to the various sizes, the shots turned out great in any size. 

TIP 2: When taking a photograph that you might want to print, make sure to leave extra room for cropping to the size you want. If I had given myself more room around the perimeter of the chair shot in series 1 above, I could have had the look I wanted in an 8x10. But since I had that room around my daughter, all of the sizes look good!

SERIES 3: An old rose.

In the original shot, I like the framing. I made sure to get the rose and the entirety of the leaves in the picture. 

But I want to show you how cropping can change the look of the photo, so I moved in much closer on the rose. It can be dramatic how different the original looks compared to the square. 

TIP 3: Play around with cropping to create a different look. 

TIP 4: If you upload photos to a website to print and pick up, they will often ask you to crop for a 5x7, 8x10, square, etc, yourself. After you choose one of those sizes, they allow you to crop it yourself so you get the shot you want, not the one the computer decides on. USE THIS FEATURE! 

I hope this post will get you thinking about how to crop your pictures in a way that sets them off the best way you can. 

Next week, I'm going to give you gift ideas for the holidays...from what to do with your photos to what to give or ask for for the photographer in your life! 

Assignment: If you don't have software on your computer that's easy to use, go to PicMonkey and they have a great crop tool for free. You can play around with it there. 

For Bloggers: Keep learning about photography for both personal use and for use on your blog. Sometimes, the photos can inspire a blog post and other times you may just the right photo ready for an article. 

Hope these tips help!
Keep on clicking.

Understanding how to Crop Photos (click to tweet)



  1. Great post Mary, you've got a follower I can always learn new photography tips and tutorials to improve my photo skills!

    1. Thanks Brenda! I'm glad they can help!

      I hope you have a great weekend!

  2. Thanks for the great suggestions! Seeing how you can crop and the difference it can make gives you huge insights into how editing skills are just as important as photography skills.

    1. You're welcome Brooke! It is amazing how much cropping can affect the shot.

  3. Thanks for the cropping tips. Pinned. Found your post on Friday Flash Blog link up

    1. Thanks Kimberlee! I hope you'll find more helpful tips!

      Thanks for dropping by!

  4. I love Pic Monkey! Thanks for the tips.

    1. PicMonkey is so much fun, isn't it? Have a great day Shecki!