Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cropping Architectural Images for Clients

"Hello Kirk,

I have been reading your site and learning for quite a while. Your eye for images is stunning. I have a question about cropping. I stay within the camera original aspect ratio when I deliver images for clients, unless they provide specifics. I have a start up photography business and I do residential and commercial. I hope to eventually shoot major architectural jobs (I have a longggggg way to go) and am learning all I can. Presently, I'm using a crop sensor Canon DSLR with good results for the clients I have served. I am going full frame with a Canon 5D II set-up in December. What ratio due you normally crop to (hopefully I'm asking the right question here)? Do you stay within your cameras native ratio or do you crop to desired look. I have had several images that I feel would be improved with "free" cropping (no set aspect ratio, just drag box until I get desired effect). Any cropping advice would be appreciated. Much info on cropping, but not much on the delivery side. 

Keep up the good work"
Thanks for the inquirey-good question. First off to maximize image quality, I try to shoot full frame in the field. When I do crop it is to improve image impact and I don't worry really about maintaining the native Aspect Ratio of the camera. So when I deliver a set of files the majority are in the native AR and a few are whatever. Those that are not are mostly stitches of some sort. Clients have never said boo about it. The only time I get a request for a specific AS is with magazine covers or from architects who have existing framed prints in their office that they want to match, but that has been rare.

The only time cropping to a specific AR becomes absolutely critical for me is when I am shooting assigned magazine covers. There has to be room made for the masthead, leads etc. Since all magazines are not the same AS it requires some legwork to figure that out ahead of time. For some of my clients like Su Casa (and), which I have mentioned before here, we always shoot tethered, bring the potential cover up in PS and layer it with the magazines cover template to make sure everything fits. We have learned to do this because of AR issues in the past.


  1. I think that creative cropping can really make an image and it's a critical part of a photographer's editing skill set. I have learned to save a version of each image I shoot for a client in the camera's native AR and then I apply creative cropping to a different version as needed. I'll deliver my cropped versions to the client but let them know that if they need a little more of the image then I've got the uncropped versions as well.

    I recently brought a Mamiya RZ 6x7 to a shoot and ran a couple rolls of film through it during the breaks. Just looking through the viewfinder, both the client and I remarked how everything looks better when viewed in 6x7 ;-).

  2. One thing to remember, I don't think that there's a camera out there that is exactly 3:2 on native sensor size. I'm shooting with a mix of D200 and D7000 and they've got slightly different aspect ratios, I need to crop a slither off the top of the D200 pics and a small chunk off the side of the D7000 pics to get them all 3:2 [ so they play in a slideshow without jiggling about on the screen with slight changes in AR ]


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