There’s a reason professional photos look so darn good. Besides being shot with fancy cameras and receiving some post-processing fluffing, they’re also composed or cropped extremely well (or both). Cropping means eliminating distracting elements in an image by cutting away unwanted bits around the edges. Good crops accentuate the subject, drawing the viewer’s eye to it; and bad crops are, well, just bad, as you can see in Figure 7-1.
Figure 7-1. Left: A poorly cropped image can leave the viewer distracted by extraneous stuff around the edges, like the wall and shadows here. Right: A well-cropped image forces the viewer to focus on the subject by eliminating distractions (in this case, the empty space in the background). This crop also gives the subject a little breathing room in the direction she’s facing, which is always a good idea (see Figure 6-2 for more examples).
Technically, you can crop before you take a photo by moving closer to the subject (called “cropping with your feet”) and repositioning the subject within the frame. However, if you don’t get the shot right when you’re out in the field, Photoshop can fix it after the fact. But before you go grabbing the Crop tool, you need to learn a few guidelines.
Once you understand the rule of thirds, a compositional guideline cherished by both photography and video pros, you’ll spot it in almost every ...