Tuesday’s Take a Better Photo Tip: Get in closer

If someone asks why their head is cut off while getting headshots, it’s a sign that they’ve never gotten headshots before!   What’s technically right and what looks good are often at odds.  Take a snapshot (I use this example a lot).  A snapshot from a point and shoot looks very different from a portrait done with an SLR.  But a snapshot is technically perfect.  Everything properly exposed (eg. bright enough), everything is in focus.  And if you’re an amateur photographer, everything is included.  The whole head, the whole body, everything there. When taking portrait, editorial decisions are made, opinions on what’s important appear and exclusions are made.  A photo with a whole subject trivializes the most important parts of the subject.  If you think somebody’s hand and their eyes are equal, not the greatest choice.  Eyes are important – they convey a sense of the soul.  Mouths are important – they let you know if someone’s happy or sad. But sometimes, something’s got to go.  In order to really focus a picture on someone’s soulful eyes, sometimes the tip of their head has got to go.

And before I go on with much more deep intellectualizations, let me shut up and show you a couple of pictures – remember, they are worth a thousand words. And right now, I’m near 250, so I’ll end with two examples of how much power cropping can have. One last verbal note:  in-camera cropping is the best if you can do it, but don’t be afraid to take a photo (at the highest resolution your camera offers) and go back later with a photo-editing program (Picasa – free, iphoto – free, Photoshop, GIMP, to name a few) and crop afterwards.  Composition can be done at any point of the process.

Here goes: