My top tips for cropping photos

After learning the hard way I thought I would give you a few of my top pointers for cropping digital images. Some of these you may know already, and a couple may surprise you.

If you have your own cropping tips, please share them by posting a comment to this article. Your input is welcome!

General Technique

1. High quality – shooting high resolution images allows you more freedom to crop without losing image quality. When you crop an image, you are making the file smaller and less detailed, so the more detail you start with, the less detail you will lose when you crop.

2. Plastic surgery – if you’re starting out with a high resolution image, be bold about removing parts of the photograph that don’t really add to the overall picture. Shutterfly’s cropping tools make it easy to experiment because you can always revert back to the original version.

3. One equals many – you can turn one photo into many by taking the same image and cropping it in different ways. Each version can get in close and focus on a different element from the original photo – different people, different parts of a flower or flower garden, etc.

4. Three is the charm – have you heard about the rule of thirds? That goes for cropping too! Your subject can actually look more compelling if it’s off center.

5.  More is better – Most DSLR cameras today have a 3.2 ratio which is around the size of a 4×6 print. If you know you want a larger print always leave room for cropping. To explain this further, let’s use a face image as an example. If you take the picture and it is exactly how you want it in your view finder, the actual printed image may have cut off the top or the sides to adjust the image to the size you are printing – which means you may cut off crucial parts of the persons head.

Shutterfly cropping tips

1. Always preview your images in your Shutterfly cart. You may need to move your box over to get the perfect framing of the image.

2. As I mentioned earlier, your cropped version will have fewer pixels than your original, so depending on how much you cut off, the enlargement may not look as sharp. Shutterfly’s system will automatically alert you if your images resolution is too low – so pay attention to those little yellow triangles.

3. Two-page-spread –  if you are making a Shutterfly photo book and are a fan of the two-page spread, make sure you don’t place a vital part of your image in the middle that will be in the fold of the book, aka the gutter – because that portion of the image will get a little lost.


  1. Joey says

    Another great article Connie! I never used to look at my prints in the shopping cart, but now i always click Preview. These are great points. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Earl J says

    I had a hard time getting past your amazing bird shot with its wonderful bokeh. But I’m glad I did because I really appreciate blogs filled with advice like this. It’s amazing how many shooters don’t get around to cropping, and the quality after the crop is usually good thanks to all the pixels in most of our cameras. And as you say, Shutterfly alerts you as to what the maximum size photo should be. I also liked your advice that we should be thinking of what appears on the two-page spreads. Thanks for the fine contribution, Connie.

  3. says

    The bigger the pixel size the smaller the crop. I look for smaller photos with photos to crop out . You can almost always find a great picture inside of a good one.

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