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Posts tagged matthew bell
TO CROP OR NOT TO CROP

YOU CAN VIEW THE HIGH RESOLUTION JPEG IMAGES HERE(CROPPED AND EDITED) & HERE(NO EDITED OR CROPPING)

Cropping has to be one of the most debated aspects of photography. On one side of the spectrum we have people who crop photos, and see no harm in doing so. On the other side we have people who think cropping an image is something you just don't do. I'm one of the believers that as long as you're not relying on cropping, there is no real harm in it.

There are a few reasons why you may want to crop a photo. Maybe you took a fantastic photo, but you accidentally got your horizon on a slight angle and didn't notice until you were in post. Maybe the composition is slightly off, but the photo is really good. Perhaps a quick crop would take it from a nice photo to absolutely stunning. Another good reason is you love the composition, but there is something distracting in the shot. (Although it can be argued that you could / should have zoomed in or compose the shot slightly differently not to show the distraction. I have to agree with that argument.)

Like everything else in photography, you need to strive to get it right in the camera. If you start to rely on cropping to get your photos right, you're never going to get better at being a photographer. Cropping shouldn't be a crutch - it should be a tool in the tool box that only gets used when needed. Unless, of course, you plan on taking a photo and intentionally doing a stylistic creative crop. In that case, crop away. 

I've provided an example of a photo that I recently took. I absolutely loved the shot, but decided to crop. I didn't like the original composition, and I feel the photo benefited from being cropped in slightly. I like delivering high quality product to my clients, and if cropping the image every once in a while is what it takes, so be it. 

My opinion stands that in a perfect world you shouldn't have to crop your photos, but realistically it is not the end of the world if you do. Be cautious of over cropping, because if your clients want a massive print they might not be happy that they image quality is poor because you relied on cropping. Always strive to capture the photo properly, and only crop of you absolutely need to.

HOW TO TAKE PROFESSIONAL LOOKING PHOTOS

What is it that makes someone's photos look professional? Are they just getting lucky? Let me tell you now, it's not luck. If no matter how hard you try, your photos are still turning out amateurish and bland, then this post should help you out.

Let me start off by saying, this is a loaded topic to try and cover, but I'll give you the three easiest ways to make your photos look better.

The three biggest things to focus on are composition, where your focus is, and editing. For example, If I'm taking head shots of someone, I need to keep a few things in mind. Am I taking the photo from a flattering angle, and composing the shot in a way that looks good? What's in the background - is there anything distracting? Am I cutting off any body parts at weird spots (ie: someone's wrist, elbow, fingers, etc.)? Make sure to use the rule of thirds to give a boring photo a bit more interest. If you keep your subject in the middle of the photo and have a lot of empty space all around them, then your photo will lack interest.

Next, I need to think about where the focus is going to be. Obviously when it comes to headshots the focus is the persons face, but that's not all. I'm a huge believer that the focus should be right on your subject's eyes. If the focus misses and hits your subject's ear or nose, it can really make your photo look distracting and bad.

Lastly, spend time with your editing. Shoot RAW and try to give your photo some emotion. Bring out colours, add some contrast, convert to black and white. One thing that helped me with editing was looking at some photos that I like from other photographers and thinking, "What is going on in this photo that I like? Do I like the crunchy contrast, the exposure, the white balance, the punchy colours?" And then I would try and replicate their styles into my own work and then make it my own.

Photography is all trial and error. With lots of practice and education, you will eventually have your own shooting and editing style. For now, just get out there and shoot and have fun!