This short intro to crop ratios for print is intended my wedding photography clients who are considering ordering wall art or albums.

What is a Crop Ratio?

Crop ratio means the ratio of one side of the image vs. the other side. The photos I take and deliver are 2:3 ratio. That means that the only way that no part of the image will be cut off is if you print it in a format that has a 2:3 ratio also.

The most common crop ratio is 4 X 6, but also 8 X 12, 10 X 15, 12 X 18 and 16 X 24 etc.

Other popular crop ratios are 5:7, 11:14, 4:5 and 1:1.

Photos are cut off when the aspect ratio of the original is forced into a different ratio.

Real world example: Your phone’s camera has aspect ratio 16:9 (very long and thin, like a phone screen). You take a picture and want to post it to your IG feed. You think that should fit, given that they are both vertical formats. However, Instagram’s aspect ratio required for portrait images is 4:5, which is only a little longer than a square.

 

explaining crop ratios .  .   .  uploading a portrait format image to instagram showing 4 X 5 crop ratios    . . . . .  uploading a portrait format image to instagram to illustrate crop ratios

 

L > R: The image you want to post, but no matter how hard you try, it won’t fit into the space allowed by Instagram. Something’s always getting cut off at the top or bottom. 

Why does it matter?

Crop ratios matter when you want to print a photograph at a different ratio than the original digital image. You have to imagine what that 2:3 image would look like if it were printed at a 4:5 ratio.

It will happen digitally, but imagine taking scissors and cutting off the sides of your photo.

With most print labs, you can adjust what part of the image will be cut off but it can be easy to miss.

Here’s another real world example. First, the original 2:3 crop ratio. Looks great!

photo of couple with a 2 X 3 image crop ratio

But say this couple wanted an 8 X 10 print of this image. Then it wouldn’t look so good, as that would require a 4:5 crop.

photo with 4 X 5 aspect ratio that doesn't look quite right

Although nothing is cropped, there’s an uneasy tension because their arms are super close to the edge of the frame. The original crop is much more pleasing in this instance.

Wherever possible please consider using print sizes that have a 2:3 ratio, especially if you are doing the ordering yourself. That way you’ll never lose part of your image. Or, ask your photographer for their input if you are planning on wall art or larger prints.

I’ll be able to advise which images look best in the original ratio and which might actually benefit from changing the crop ratio.

For individual portraits, a 4:5 crop ratio can look even better as it eliminates too much headroom and brings more attention to the subject. Compare these two, first as shot as a 2:3 and secondly cropped to 4:5. I think the second one looks better!

groom's boutonniere being pinned on .    san francisco groom boutonniere pinning outside church to understand crop ratio

Hope this helped clear up some common issues that come up with understanding crop ratios especially when purchasing prints, which come in so many different sizes! I welcome questions from my clients or future clients! Leave me a comment if you want to know more. Check out this helpful article to know more! 

Be sure to Pin this to your wedding board!

Ever tried to figure out what's going on when you try to print a photo and something's getting cut off? This simple guide is for you! A lot of photographers shoot in a certain aspect ratio, meaning that when you try and print at other popular print sizes, something will be cut off! Find out why and how to avoid it here | #weddingphotography #photoprints #weddingprints | Zoe Larkin Photography

Understanding crop ratios for print! When you come to print your wedding photos, you'll be face with an alarming range of print sizes and crop or aspect ratios that may require you to crop or alter your wedding photos from the original ratio. This guide helps you understand what happens when you must crop a photo, and helps you choose which ratios may be the better choices. Print your wedding photos and enjoy for a lifetime! #weddingphotography #photoprinting #cropratios | Zoe Larkin Photography

 

 

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Lover of ice cream, killer of houseplants, Zoe is a San Francisco-dwelling love documentarian. Contact | Insta

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