The Importance Of A Good Crop

I’ve been taking pictures with my iPhone for about a year and half now and I’m continually surprised at the things I’m learning and new techniques I’m discovering.

I barely used to crop at all, especially when editing my DSLR photos. I was always (overly) concerned with resolution and making sure I didn’t lose any.

Enter lower resolution iPhone with a fixed focal length…

As I always have my iPhone on me this is how I take most of my photos these days. I often find my self on the other side of a river, across a huge field or just a little too far away from a mountain. This has literally forced me to crop in closer to get the photo I want. Because apps like Instagram publish quite a small image I don’t care as much about resolution anymore (although this can be frustrating later).

Having this “freedom” of no longer caring so much about resolution has encouraged me to crop more and often I find myself revisiting photos that I had written off, only to discover post crop a new favourite photo. Where I was concerned about resolution before I’m now concerned about the final composition. Now I just need a 50mp camera thats fits in my pocket!











All images taken and edited on the iPhone and posted on Instagram by Seth Hardie.

Find me on Instagram here: @hallwood

31 Comments Leave A Comment


Micah says:

January 16, 2012 at 12:32 pm

awesome article! this is really great practicle advice and gives all of us amateur designer/photographers a new technique to play with. thanks!


Cornelius says:

January 16, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Great work sir. I have become an absolute instagram fiend, in fact I’ve ditched Facebook and now use it solely as my ‘social networking’ tool. There’s something far nicer about posting a picture as opposed to a thought/opinion. Just out of interest, what app do you use to overlay images?


André Santos says:

January 16, 2012 at 1:43 pm

The mirror trick on the last photo was my last “discovery” and I’ve been using it a lot. Bad pictures can become great artworks.


Sam Jones says:

January 16, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Great article, I’ve never really tried cropping photos on my iPhone because I was always worried about the quality of the image but these examples have turned out really well.


Joe says:

January 16, 2012 at 4:28 pm

no offense but im pretty sick of instagram and the iphone way of photography…making people way too lazy in terms or editing and thought process that goes into each shot. if you were using a real camera with real editing software, maybe the cropping wouldnt be such an issue… that being said each and every example posted here is solid criticism. im just yearning for more individuality


Ryan says:

January 16, 2012 at 6:07 pm

Great examples of how cropping can take a mundane photo and turn it into something really special. Inspiring! Thanks for posting this.


Porto Novo says:

January 16, 2012 at 7:43 pm

@Joe, I don’t really think laziness comes into play at all. The fact that it’s so widely used is kind of uplifting. Photography before the iphone was a sort of elitist art form for individuals who could afford proper camera’s and software. I love my instagram feed because it takes me down a notch when I see that most people really do have a great eye for photography.

Great post, definitely a much needed reminder that cropping correctly can lead to breathtaking shots.



Nthn says:

January 16, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Hallwood, I have been loving your shots. I’m scrolling through my feed, see something, stop, like it and then realize, oh, another hallwood beauty. Thanks for this post. I too have noticed my cropping increasing with instagram and I put more thought into these photos than just a normal point and shoot think. I love the community.


Collective says:

January 16, 2012 at 9:22 pm

@JOE Gear has nothing to do with good photography, just the quality of the print. Having a “decent” camera in my pocket at all times has literally “rekindled my love” for photography, while hours of editing in Lightroom, stuck indoors was killing it. To each his own.

Stay tunned for a follow up post on some apps and editing techniques and what programs, like Lightroom, can learn from the little guys.


andrea says:

January 16, 2012 at 11:44 pm

this is exactly what i’ve been thinking since i started using instagram 1 year ago.

i know a few self-proclaimed “photographers”, proud owners of 5D, thinking they’re so great just because they payed thousands euros for they equipment.

In fact, theyr instagram album JUST SUCKS!

I find instagram to be very democratic, in some way… it reveals who’s got a good eye at composition and who’s not.
the downside: with some of those cheesy filters it’s too easy to completely destroy any good shot.


Gray P says:

January 17, 2012 at 1:55 am

I love the fact that you have the same programs as everyone else, yet those images are most definitely you. Last one is great, the symmetry is not immediately apparent.


KYLE says:

January 17, 2012 at 5:44 am

I have been looking for a way to “rekindle my love for photography” for years. I don’t want to spend money on a fancy camera to take the pictures for me, and I don’t know why but every film camera I touch stops working.

Perhaps something that is for the sake of a good feeling picture and not just the final print, like instagram and iphones, are the type of freedom I’m looking for. Thanks for shining some light on what seems to be a muchly under-appreciated way of capture.


Jacob says:

January 17, 2012 at 5:59 am

Not really a fair comparison when the cropped image is slathered with effects and the uncropped image is unedited.

Aside: I’m looking forward to how dated Instagram photos look in a few years. Making the colors look pretty isn’t what makes a photograph compelling, and that’s what Instagram defenders don’t get. Good photography requires honesty.


KYLE says:

January 17, 2012 at 10:34 am

Good photography is photography that you think is good.

The internet has more than one clique of photobrains, whether it’s the view of an educated or experienced photographer or a 13 year old girl who has her first camera. Photography doesn’t belong to only those that share your opinion on a nice picture.

These instagrams are the digital Polaroids. In these it’s the moment being captured that seems to count, and it doesn’t seem to claim anything more.


Collective says:

January 17, 2012 at 11:34 am

@ANDREA I’d have to agree :)

@JACOB slathered might be a little strong ;) I used an image overlay on one, tweaked some colours here and there, and bumped up the “exposure” on another. The fact that this is easy to do compared to using a darkroom doesn’t make it any less valid, it just requires more restraint. And sometimes just adding some colour to simple photograph does make it pretty, but I dont think anyone here is pretending that makes them a good photographer.

@DC the one overlooking the valley was just outside Fairmont in British Columbia, Canada. The rest were all taken in Alberta.


Justin says:

January 18, 2012 at 3:33 pm

@UGLYLOGO you can do it on an app called Diptic. Just insert the same image, then flip one of them.


Brendan says:

January 18, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Just curious as to who is writing these “collective” posts these days. They come across with a good personal voice, and are written in the first person singular. Love reading ’em, just want to give credit where credit is due!


Nick Robinson says:

January 19, 2012 at 9:51 am

Resolution was always an issue for me. How big are the cropped results from the original images?

The beauty of cropping, let alone taking the picture, is within the freedom of choice. The framing of the photograph, the framing of the cropping. That decision being made brings out the art within the photographer, moreso than the effects being applied.


Jamie Davis says:

January 19, 2012 at 11:54 am

The importance of cropping cannot be understated. It’s crazy how it can complete transform an image. It brings me back to when I was learning the basics at college. The images you used are a very good example too. A very good post, thanks for sharing :)


Alex / HeadUp says:

January 19, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Excellent post, thanks for sharing your insights. I never took a formal photography course, but I did take a very solid history of photography course, which gave me a sense of how important composition and perspective are in a good photograph.

I wonder how big a deal the MP-factor it is at the end of the day if the purpose of the photo will never require it to be larger than 500 or 600 pixels (ie. living on a blog like this one).


Christopher Guethe says:

January 22, 2012 at 6:25 am

In terms of photo equipment, I am a bit of a snob, and most of the time I still shoot on film. Nonetheless, whether it comes from a camera phone or a Polaroid, or Canon 5D, a good shot is a good shot. Excellent work!


Alex says:

February 8, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Great examples of creative cropping on here. I actually think that Instagram and iPhones have highlighted that not ‘anyone’ can make great artistic shots… I just decided to unfollow half of my Instagram people because my stream was filled with boring / lacklustre shots… what I am left with is the people making really great inspiring artwork out. So it is more evident than ever who has the ‘eye’ and who does not (yet). I am somewhere in the middle… need to be more consistant.


Ariel says:

February 25, 2012 at 7:36 am

Great post, I always felt that a picture made will always have many photos within. Great eye, your not taking photos your making them!


Fitness Journal Software says:

March 25, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Thanks for the article and hope to read from you again. You put a nice twist to it. Thank you for the article Collective.