Framing and Cropping

In the course work we are asked to note down what we understand by the terms ‘cropping’ and ‘framing’ then check in the preface to Walker Evans American Photographs whether we are correct.


My explanation of framing is where the photographer prepares the image within the lines of the edge of the parameters set by the camera.

So the photographer can manipulate his view point physically to put a subject within the parameters of the frame. Depending on what the photographer wants to represent in their image they can  choose to move to a different viewpoint (high or low) or zoom in or out.

The photographer can construct, stage and compose in a physical sense the subject in a frame and can alter at the moment before capture. It can be time related in certain compositions for example when panning a subject.

The judgement here is what to include in the frame and what to leave out, this is the decision for the photographer and what he wants to achieve. ‘Filling the frame’ was historically a cost issue as the old camera frames were expensive. The old photographers didn’t want to waste any space on the frames so they put more thought into framing than cropping.


I consider this a destructive action done after the image has been captured and is undergoing processing.

The judgement here is ‘do I crop or not?’. What would be achieved by cutting away part of the image, would it be an improvement and give it more impact . A cropped picture can be desirable as it can smarten up an image and also make the intent of the image more obvious but when you crop you lose some of the image data.

Cropping can also be functional, resizing an image for certain uses.

On a personal note, I did some photos for a friend and she paid me with a photography course which I was very grateful for. It was a day course and most of the day a photographer taught us about cropping. Which I was surprised at because despite it usefulness and relative ease it has long been argued that it is not essential photographically. If the photographer thinks through the image before making it then cropping would not be needed.

Henri Cartier-Breeson  the great French photographer never cropped his work. He coined the term ‘The decisive moment’ as he held the regard that a photographer should direct intense attention to the flow and promise of the visual image.

I am not scared of cropping, sometimes I like to find a picture within a picture but I do rush into framing just because it is so easy with a digital camera to revisit a situation and take several images.

I’m off to read American Photographs  to see if my interpretations are correct. Even though this is art and its all just opinions.



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