When you’re out shooting with your camera, do you ever think about you expect to crop the finished product? You should. Your camera, most likely, only shoots in one or two aspect ratios. So when you are framing up your shot out in the field, think about how you’re going to crop the shot. You don’t always want the framing right from camera. In fact, when you get back to your studio and you’re editing your photos, you may find that a different framing may have been more appropriate and you’ll choose to crop at that time. That’s okay. As a photographer, your job is to create a finished product. This studio work is just as important as the in-camera work. This week, I’m going to share with you two crops created from the same photo. Rich Levine created both photos, both appropriately named “A Fascination with Freckles”.
The original framing is an excellent portrait of these sisters. The photo tells a story of their relationship and a tiny bit about their personalities. The background is a great choice; some texture but not distracting. The lighting is pretty good, natural light is a fantastic ally when you learn to use it to your advantage. And frankly, the framing is excellent. All together, this all makes for a great portrait. But Rich has offered a version with different framing (which is the one shown at the top of this article). It is this version that I, personally, feel has a stronger story and is therefore a stronger image. To think that it was created from the already excellent original file.
So what makes the different framing version stronger? To me, it’s the connection with the younger sister. She’s looking directly into the camera with a subtle smile. This is a connection with the camera and with the viewer. By cropping out the eyes of the older sister, you pull the focus to the younger sister. It’s now about her and her relationship with her sister. The older sister becomes a bit of a suggestion more than a feature of the photograph. That’s okay. It’s still very clear that the younger sister loves her sibling. That aspect of the overall story is still intact. So the alternative crop does nothing more than refine and focus the story by eliminating the other girl’s story from the shot. The result is more dynamic, more obvious and far more attention grabbing.
Rich Levine is a talented experimental photographer with his eye to a great number of subjects. It’s his portraiture I find most intriguing. He seems to have an eye for the exact moment to snap the shot. Maybe it’s his years of experience as an educator where he learned to anticipate moments like these. Regardless, Rich clearly knows people, and that goes a long way. In a recent Rineke Dijkstra inspired project, Moments of Truth, Rich created a series of portraits of students at the moment when they stopped posing. I don’t know exactly how he set up for each of these shots, but the results are very truthful. I love the direction Rich is going in his work, and I expect to see more great stuff from him moving forward. You can find more of his work at Flickr.