How a photo is cropped can make or break any communications project. Thoughtful cropping will draw the eye towards the most important aspects of the photo, and help tell your story.
Here are three easy tips to help make an impact:
- Crop out distracting details
Extraneous details are distracting. Cropping out background and foreground objects redirects focus to what supports your story. This is especially true when there are words or random people in the shot. Anything that breaks the flow of the story or distracts should be cropped out.
- Leave in important details
Without the lab equipment in the frame this researcher's expression looks odd and the viewer has no idea what she is working on or looking at. Be sure to leave in anything essential to the context of your story. This is called giving your photo a "sense of place." Incidentally, recent research tells us that prospective undergraduate students strongly prefer photos that provide a sense of place.
- Don't crop faces and leave some breathing room
No one wants their “personal space” invaded when meeting new people or to look like a Picasso painting. Cropping too closely feels claustrophobic and uninviting. Adding some breathing room — known as “look space” — is much more relaxing and pleasing to the eye. And cropping faces is very disturbing no matter how badly you want to use an image.
Crop photos in a photo editing application (such as Photoshop) before inserting them on a webpages or PowerPoint presentation. Doing so significantly reduces the photo's file size.