Photographers are story tellers. And in sports photography, the photos are vital in telling the story of the game or the match. Do you know what makes or breaks a photo? Cropping. Cropping is the most important edit any sports photographer can do. Period.
All the fancy cameras that can track eye movement or the $14k lenses aren’t going to help you if you don’t know how to properly crop a photo. You have one chance at making an impression and if you can’t crop your photo to draw the viewer in then, well, you’ve lost them.
How to Crop Photos
There isn’t a one crop to rule them all magic wand that you can use, but you can use the magic wand in Photoshop for other things. Wire service photographers have to crop their photos to a certain specification. Instagram has their own sizes you have to crop you photo down to to ensure the users see what you want them to see. And that is why cropping is the most import edit when it comes not only to sports photography, but photography in general.
Here is an example of an uncropped photo from a University of Miami game a couple of seasons back:
It’s not a terrible photo. Definitely has the action aspect to it. It also has a lot of space on the side and it’s a bit distracting with everyone on the sideline behind them watching the play.
And here is the cropped version:
While I can’t do much about the people on the sidelines because of the angle I took shooting the photo, but you can see the impact the photo has now. You’re not drawn to all the space around the action because the action hits your first like a defensive end. At least the photo isn’t trying to take your head off.
And you want your photos to have impact. You want your audience to feel the emotion of the moment and you can truly achieve that by learning how to master cropping.
You can have the perfect exposure, the right white balance but if your photo is too busy and it can’t lead your audience to the action then do you really have a great image? This is why cropping is the most important edit you can make during your post production efforts.
Let’s take a look at another image that is in need of a good cropping
Celebration photos are always important in telling a story. Here Jazz Chisholm and Lewis Brinson jump to do their little special high five after a Marlins win. Again, a little too much space on one side for my liking.
And now the cropped version.
Much more impactful and they’re the main focus of the frame. I actually think this photo made a Topps digital card if I’m not mistaken. I should have ordered it, but that is another story.
I can go on forever with examples of the importance of cropping. I cannot stress how important it is to crop your photos.
Does every photo need a crop? Of course not. Some photos you’re able to fill the frame edge to edge. Cropping is for those instances when you need to make your photo jump out more.
So if I leave you with anything it’s learning how to crop and how important it is when telling a story visually. And remember only you can prevent a forest fire……