Where Should A Portrait End?

Where should a portrait end?  At the shoulders, the bust, the waist, the knees or full length showing everything to the feet.  How do you decided?  To some degree, the client’s use for the portrait (business, for a parent, for a partner) and personal suggestions will help you decide.  Two of the most important steps in determining how you will crop/compose any portrait are:  what area of the subject should show and what are the obvious cropping points of any given pose.

As a professional photographer, it is your job to look at each client, put yourself into “their shoes” and honestly figure out what areas of the body should not be shown.  So many photographers decide they will take a full length pose and “come hell or high water” (or in this case a 200 pound woman) they will do it.  I see so many photographers show too much in the final portraits.  Cropping is one of the key elements in making your client look their best.  I was inspired to write this article when I saw a portrait of very attractive lady with bird on her shoulder in a bright-colored dress.  The woman wasn’t a large woman, but she had a belt on which made the material under the belt look like a huge tummy-bulge.  The photographer cropped the image directly under this large puff of dress looking like a belly.  It was a beautiful image in every other way, but completely unsalable!

When you decide on how to crop a portrait, remember one thing, the more you show, the more problems the client will see and the more likely these problems will make the portrait unsalable.  This is not to say don’t do full length images, however full length poses should be reserved clients that want them and also have a body for them.  If a woman has great shoes, cute feet in a casual dress or great legs that will show in the clothing, these are reasons to do a full length pose.  If not, compose the portrait closer to avoid possible problems selling what you create.

The next thing to consider are the obvious cropping points in any pose.  The entire body is at your disposal to create natural cropping points and/or frame the area of the portrait which you will be showing.  As you look at any pose, you will see obvious ending spots that add impact to the image by cropping out what is unimportant.  Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but nothing left to take away.  Simplicity sells!


~ by jeffsmithbooks on May 30, 2012.

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