"I absolutely never, ever crop...except when I want to."
[I might even have used this as a Quote o' the Day before. It's always been my favorite rule about cropping, and encapsulates what most photographers do as opposed to what they say. Frank is a Washington, D.C. art photographer who teaches (taught?) at the Corcoran College of Art and Design. Although this is almost difficult to reconstitute now, he was an early adopter, devotée, and champion of color photography back when color was very low-status in the world of art photography and it was somewhat iconoclastic for an art photographer to commit to it. —MJ]
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Featured Comments from:
Robert Harshman (partial comment): "...You all crop every time you take a picture, every time. But here instead of cropping it's artistically called framing. Whatever, it is cropping."
Mike replies: No it isn't. I don't agree. Two different words, two different things.
The latter, "cropping," has long meant something one does to a two-dimensional picture after the fact, in a hopeful but often ineffectual attempt to correct the deficiencies of one's efforts to do the former—framing.
If you're good at framing, you seldom have to crop. If you crop habitually, you're unlikely to ever become good at framing.
"Cropping" when done by someone else usually refers to ham-handed vandalism by an editor or graphic designer for the purpose of gratuitously ruining a photographer's perfectly good framing....
On the other hand...[thanks to Jack Foley for this].
FOLLOW-UP: Much to my surprise, it turns out that cropping is a status issue—I actually had to disallow a few comments to this post, they were so strident! And edit some others. Who'd a' thunk?
For one thing, it seems like some people didn't get Frank's joke. He's acknowledging the ideal of composing in-camera but also making fun of it, and implying that everyone will simply do what they want to in the end.
You can make arguments for and against cropping—which I think are interesting, personally—but it isn't a status issue. It's for each photographer to decide for him- or herself. There's nothing wrong with always doing it, doing it sometimes, or never doing it.
john: "Needing to edit posts about cropping is such delicious irony."
Jeff Wilson: "When I studied photography we had a lecturer who delighted in brandishing a set of L shaped edges on every photograph presented to him for inspection. I used to hate those edges and I tried very hard to do all of my framing in the camera. I think he did my visual discipline a huge favour. I very rarely crop, except when using less than 100% finders and something unwanted creeps in on a corner or edge."
Stan B. (partial comment): "One could also make the argument that the tight-assed ones are those forever trying to perfect their work by selective cropping, as opposed to those who say—it either works...or it doesn't."