Cropping an image is perhaps one of the most creative things you can do after the initial capture.
Last week, sitting at a cafe in Liguria, I grabbed this image – by instinct rather than any clear idea of what I was trying to achieve. This is the out of camera image.
My initial work was to straighten the image, add a touch more brightness and to crop a little off the top of the photo to produce this.
The image is now beginning to show something of what I sensed originally – girl and her friend (largely obscured) looking sideways at the man to their right.
But now what is catching my eye are the three cigarettes – all held at a similar angle.
So I tried a tighter crop to exclude some of the table clutter and to focus more on the cigarettes. I retained the cigarette packet on the table to echo this theme.
But now, I’m asking myself whether an even tighter crop would help produce a stronger image – something like this.
This last version emphasises the three cigarettes more strongly, and concentrates the viewer on the girl/boy axis, but arguably loses some of the cafe context.
There’s no “right” answer – as always it’s a matter of personal preference. But it helps to show how even a little cropping can help draw out the creative focus of your image.
What do you think? Gary