For years, I’ve been struggling to explain cropping. We are all familiar with the common frame sizes of 5×7″, 8×10″, and 11×14″. (As an aside – I can’t tell you how many people think 11×14″ is HUGE when in actuality, an 11×14″ is typically the smallest size that should be placed on a wall unless part of a grouping. 5×7″ and 8×10″ prints are actually historically known as “desk prints.” But I digress!)

But these common frame sizes don’t line up to the way our current cameras actually produce an image and the way I typically deliver most wedding and portrait images (from time to time, I will deliver a long and thin panorama, for example, but this is rare and a stylistic choice). Think about ratios from school – my cameras shoot in a 3:2 ratio. So if you don’t want ANY of your digital file cropped for a print (canvas is a different story due to the wrapping of the edges), you should choose a print in the 3:2 ratio. This would be, for example, a 6×4, although in photography, we usually use the smaller number first regardless of which way we are holding the print, portrait or landscape.

The sizes of prints with NO cropping would be: 2×3″, 4×6″, 8×12″, 12×18″, 16×24″ and 20×30″.  When you are ordering images from our online gallery, if you have a group of people or important things towards the edge of the frame, order one of these sizes – just leave it in the notes for me! If not, I will choose the best crop for you.

8×10″ prints are a 4:5 ratio and really more of a square than a typical digital photo ratio. This makes it fairly difficult to accommodate a large family group in this size, for example, even though we try to leave as much room for cropping as possible.

Then what to do? In general, I recommend ordering an 8×12″ print instead. In fact, if I see that a client has ordered an 8×10″ print through our gallery that will result in bodies or faces being cropped, I typically upgrade people to 8×12″ prints free of charge.

But where do you get frames for 8×12″ prints?

Another great way to do it is to buy an 11×14″ frame but use this mat cut to 8×12″ size, like this one from Michael’s:

But what if you really, really want to use an 8×10″ frame you already have? In that case, let me know and I can sometimes extend the background in Photoshop to make it work (Photoshop charges may apply)!

Here’s an example of a reception family groupings as originally photographed and as it would print as an 8×12″ print:

Here’s an example of the crop if you selected an 8×10″ print – you can see we are cutting off the shoulders and faces of those on the ends:

And lastly, the background being extended via Photoshop so that the client could use an 8×10″ frame they had specially selected:

I’m attaching our cropping guide below to further illustrate the differences in sizes. Happy cropping and printing!


One Person has left comments on this post

dick Knapp said: | Dec 28, 2022 - 02:12:51 |

Kristen, you are a humorous and excellent writer relating to complex issues such as cropping.

I got a lot out of this guide!

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