Cropping is an often overlooked, yet very simple part of editing photographs of your artist books. Here are a few tips for cropping that will help present and document your work most effectively.
Cropping is done using the Crop tool in Photoshop (or whatever photo imaging software you have). It is a very easy and straightforward tool to use. As mentioned in a previous tip in this series you can also rotate your photo with the crop tool to save a step.
Crop your photo to show all of the work but leave enough background to give your book some room to breathe. Good photos of your work will be used for juried shows, in print catalogs, on web sites and more, for years to come. Leave enough background so that the photo can be cropped as needed by future users, but not too much that the book gets lost. The image above shows a comfortable amount of background allowing plenty of flexibility.
You may need to change the orientation of your photo to best accommodate the vertical or horizontal shape of your book shape. The image at right shows a book that was photographed horizontally, but the book is actually very tall and narrow. It would look much better if the image was made vertical and the excess background is cropped on the left and right.
Keep the overall image area in roughly the same rectangle that your camera shoots in. Do not crop your photos to a square shape. That may be difficult to use in print catalogs for juried shows depending on the design template. Keep all images you are submitting to a show to a consistent size and shape. It’s okay, though if some are vertical and some are horizontal.
Do not crop too tightly and definitely do not crop into the physical book. Too tight of a crop doesn’t leave the catalog designers any flexibility for layout purposes. If you crop off the corners of your book thinking it looks arty or mysterious, you will loose the dimension and perspective of your book. The photo shown at right is cropped too much and the book looses impact. Believe or not, this happens a lot. If you cannot fit the entire book in the viewfinder of your camera you need to step farther back from your book or set up your photo studio in a bigger space.
Be sure to crop out irrelevant or distracting background. Sometimes part of your studio may show behind your backdrop and should be cropped out.
One last thought. Always work on a copy of your photograph by using the Save As command or the Duplicate command. That way if you crop out too much you can always go back to the original.