Photo Know-How: 5 Tips for Cropping Photos

Photo Know-How: 5 Tips for Cropping Photos


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Welcome to the Creating Keepsakes magazine podcast! We bring you cool ideas & easy solutions for scrapbooking your memories.

I'm Brittany Beattie, senior online editor for Creating Keepsakes scrapbook magazine.  Today we're going to talk about knowing when and how to crop your photos for beautiful scrapbook pages. 

But first, this podcast is sponsored by Club CK, a dynamic online community where scrapbookers flock for creative inspiration. Share your scrapbook layouts, participate in fun challenges and contests, and learn cool scrapbooking tips today at

And now, Cropping Photos: Know When, Know How.

To crop or not to crop-that is the question. Some scrapbookers leave all pictures in tact as 4" x 6" prints because they don't want to remove any important details. Other scrapbookers think it's fine to crop out an entire background from a photo and focus on just the faces in the pictures. Which method is best? The answer depends entirely on the situation. Find the perfect balance in knowing when to crop and how to crop by following five principles.

1. First, crop to draw attention to a subject. Envision yourself creating a scrapbook page about a new toy your child loves to play with. You want the toy to stand out on your layout, but the toy appears so small in comparison to the other elements in your pictures. What should you do? Include two photos on the layout! Show one picture with your child and the toy together, and crop the second photo to include just the toy. The cropped photo lets the toy stand out on your scrapbook page, but you've maintained the full story by including the second, uncropped picture.

When cropping to call attention to part of your photo, consider cutting the picture into a non-rectangular shape, such as a square or a circle. The unexpected shape will help draw more attention to the important subject in your picture.

2. Second, crop for visual variety. We all know how difficult it can be to fit numerous 4" x 6" photos on a layout. Simplify the process by cropping an inch or two off some pictures. This type of cropping works great when a majority of the photo background looks similar, such as a picture with a field of grass or a body of water. Even if you crop out some of the grass or water, you'll still see enough grass or water in the photo to tell your story and will be able to add visual variety to your layout with cropped photos that you can't achieve as easily with all 4" x 6" prints.

3. Third, crop for cosmetic reasons. Perhaps it sounds vain, but strategically cropping your pictures can help you look thinner in the photos. Think about the arm shots you get when you hold the camera out in front of you to take a self-portrait. Or the leg shots that result when you're sitting on a chair and someone takes a photograph from the ground in front of you. When an arm or leg stands out in the forefront of a photo, pull out your photo trimmer. Trimming a quarter inch from the photo to remove the arm or leg will transfer the focus from appendage to face.

4. Fourth, crop to remove distractions. Remember the photo you took of your little one starting to crawl? You grabbed the camera and quickly took pictures without bothering to move the pile of laundry on the floor. When that pile of laundry-or other distracting element in the background of your pictures-isn't essential to the story you're telling through your photos, crop it out. A 3" x 3" picture where your child is the center of attention is much better than a 4" x 6" print where your laundry pile is the star and your little one is only a small portion of the photo.

5. Fifth, take both close-up and faraway pictures when you initially take the photographs. Then you'll have both options available to you without cropping them when you're ready to scrapbook. If you want a close-up photo of the board game your children played last night, you'll have it-without needing to crop. You'll also have a faraway photo that shows your children playing the game in your family room, which provides context about where your board-game action always takes place.

There you have it-the five tips for knowing when and how to crop your pictures. Remember: the key to cropping is to determine what parts of your photos help you tell your story. If an element in a photo detracts from your story, then crop it out. If the background elements support the story and help you preserve the context of your life and its memorable moments, then put your photo trimmer away. To crop or not to crop? Now you know the answer!

That's all for today. Visit us online at for more scrapbooking tips & solutions or to subscribe to our magazine. And be sure to visit our sponsor site, to gather with other scrapbookers for even more creative inspiration.

If you have a question or a topic you'd like us to cover on the Creating Keepsakes podcast, email us at

And remember: when you scrapbook, you're not only sharing your story, you're creating keepsakes.


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