Thursday, 5 January 2012


I just came across an article I wrote some time ago about cropping, which appeared in a book.  I am sure not all of you will have purchased that particular book, so I thought I would repeat some of the content here, just to get you thinking about the idea of cropping a picture when you are not entirely happy with it.  Often, particularly when people work from photos (which I know many of you do), they become a slave to the content of the photo, and never think that actually, a crop might produce a stronger or better image.

One has to be prepared to "let go" of part of a picture........this isn't always easy to do, especially when you have slaved away for ages on the image - but if the end result is better, it is worth doing.

When I was doing a whole series of "dancer" paintings, I  painted this particular scene, putting together an image from several of my photos.  I was never very happy with the figures on the right - they bugged me, no matter how much I tried to settle to them:. I did not like the positioning of the dancer bottom right, and I was never happy with the overall balance of light and dark shapes.

Cropping is perhaps a rather drastic way to "correct" an unhappy picture, but it can produce good results.  Finding new images by cropping feels rather creative, actually, and quite satisfying.  From a larger picture, particularly one that you feel has failed, or doesn't meet your expectations and doesn't please your inner taskmaster (that little demon sitting in our subconscious minds), you may well find more than one alternative solutions;  more concentrated, intimate compositions, with a better balance of shapes and I feel I did with this crop:

Now, I feel that the angles of arms, bodies, and the linear marks of the skirts, work well within the confines of the rectangle, creating a tension with the sides of the rectangle, and as a result, a stronger composition. I also preferred the balance of light and dark areas.   Now others may not agree........but MY inner taskmaster stopped its nagging, and that's all that matters!

Next time, I will take this a stage further and look at possible ways to "correct", but without cropping - instead, I will show you a way of trying out changes before you commit to them.


  1. This looks much nicer without the other two sitting there, they didn't have much purpose.

  2. well, their original "purpose" was a) to try to balance the image on the right and b) to create a kind of circular composition to counter all of the strong angles, I thought it would look softer. However, it didn't work. glad you prefer the crop!


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