Today we’ll talk about the sister disease to “faces in the middle of the picture”: I call it, “cutting the muffin.” It’s a tendency people have take a picture only of someone’s head and shoulders, because they are uncomfortable with the way (they think) their midsection/hips/thighs look when photographed. Or, because they’re tragically used to seeing faces in the middle of the picture and just don’t know any better.
This is wrong, my friends. Very wrong, and very counter-productive.
We’ll start with the basics:
Our eyes are taught to move from left to right before they move top to bottom, when we look at a page or an image, thanks to the practice of reading. Generally, the thing we subconsciously notice first is how wide something is.
If you want an area to appear smaller, pretty much the worst thing you could do is create an artificial horizontal line across that area by means of cropping. And for the purposes of this post, when I say “cropping,” I don’t just mean the post-production stuff that happens on your computer or app. I mean how you compose the shot in the original. For example:
Here we are on Independence Day You can see we’re at the beach in our red, white, and blue regalia, and everyone is even looking at the camera and (mostly) smiling. But the way the picture is cropped, with one long, wide line cutting across us all, it gives an effect of horizontal stretching. No one wants that.
Here’s another example:
This is a little better. Now we’ve got some length to us to balance out the width. But I’m still cut across/adding width at the widest part of my hips. No, thank you.
There we go. Now, we have more length than width, and my awkward pose aside, have better proportions than the other two pictures. One of my tricks to achieving this goal? Whenever I hand our camera to someone else, I say, “Be sure and get my shoes in the shot.” Because “Take a picture of my whole body” sounds really odd. Works every time.
I want to add that the goal is always to compose/crop pictures the way you want them using your camera, not your computer. The computer is a great backup, for sure. But getting the shot you want when you shoot it will save you all kinds of frustration later, because not all pictures crop the way you want and still print well, if you crop in post-production.
So, there you go. Me and My SoldierMan’s crash course in getting more out of your camera. I hope this has been a helpful series, and if it has, I hope you’ll pass it along so that others will join us in the war against Faces in the Center of Pictures ;)