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Print Crop Part 2

Farragut, Knoxville, TN

Wednesday, September 3, 2008
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One problem that I run into over and over again is a misunderstanding of print crop ratios. Last year, I tried to explain this confusing issue in a blog post, and today I want to offer an example. For illustration, I'm using a photo of the lovely Jessica that I just happen to be working on.

All of the files from my camera and, therefore, the photos in the galleries are in a 4x6 ratio. This is obviously a rectangle, but many of the American print sizes are much more square. For example, an 8x10" print is a 4x5 ratio. When someone orders an 8x10 from the gallery, I must crop off part of the image in order to make it fit that size. This doesn't always present a problem, but sometimes it can. In the example below, the first photo is the original 4x6 ratio.

Print Crop Part 2

This second photo is a 4x5 ratio. Compared to the image above, you can see that I have had to crop off most of the bouquet, but this is what must be done to make it fit onto an 8x10 print.

Print Crop Part 2

What if you wanted to keep the bouquet in the shot? Well, you have a few choices.

First you could just order a print size that stays in the 4x6 ratio such as an 8x12 or 16x24. These irregular sizes would require custom framing OR a less expensive option is to have a custom mat cut. For instance you could use the 8x12 with a mat to fit a 11x14 frame.

The easiest option is to do a digital mat. I can keep the entire image and have a black or white border printed around it so that it will fit on a standard size print. For the example below, I used a black border to make the image fit on an 8x10 piece of paper.

Print Crop Part 2

The digital border works well with normal photos. However, if you are ordering a canvas and don't want to lose any of the image then you would want to order a size in the 4x6 ratio. Canvases don't need framing anyway so it isn't a big deal to have an irregular size.

If I get an order for a print that will be affected by a crop, then I will sometimes send an email and ask if the customer prefers to have the photo cropped or to have the border added. Most people prefer the border. In my professional judgment, if the photo is going to be ruined by the crop and result in the loss of important elements such as people or body parts then I will just go ahead and add the border. Although many photos like the one above wouldn't warrant an automatic email or border, they just don't look as good cropped. Just keep this in mind when deciding what size prints to order.
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