Why has my photo been cropped?

Why was my photo cropped

Have you ever had a photo printed and wondered “Why has my photo been cropped?”

Cropping is the removal of outer areas from an image. The process usually consists of the removal of some of the peripheral areas of an image to remove unwanted areas from the picture, to improve its framing, to change the aspect ratio.  The aspect ratio of an image describes the proportional relationship between its width and its height.

Sensor sizes create image ratios

Most professional photographers today use cameras with a full frame sensor (35mm) which is the same as the old 35mm film cameras. These cameras have an image ration of 3:2. Commercial photographers shooting billboards sometimes use a camera with an even larger sensor called a medium format. All amateur cameras contained a cropped sensor which is smaller than the 35mm size. The following advice is for images taken with a camera with a full frame sensor, either by a professional photographer or by a serious amateur with a camera body usually priced at $3000 or more. 

When does cropping occur?

Cropping usually occurs during two seperate occasions. The first is during the initial edit of images where the photographer (or photo editor) crops the image to remove unwanted elements of the background. This is part of the creative process, to allow the photographer to focus the viewers attention on the subject of the image.

The second process is after the client has decided on the size that they want the image to be printed. This is where the sensor size becomes important to our discussion. Below you can see which images will be cropped and which images will stay the same.

Why do photos get cropped

What Images DON'T get Cropped?

The cropping done to your images after your selection of your favourites for printing may need to be cropped to change the aspect ratio. Modern professional cameras are shot with a 3:2 ratio. If you decide to have a picture printed to 6×4 inches, 12×8 inches, 18×12 inches, etc there is no need for the image to be cropped as the ratio is 3:2.

What Images DO get Cropped?

If however you have selected another size for printing such as 5×7 inches or A4 size it will be required to be cropped to fit the dimensions of the printed image. We allow you to see the cropped version of your image prior to the image going to print. This way we ensure you are happy with the crop and you will see ahead of time exactly what the printed image will look like.

So what will my printed photo look like?

Printing Advice

What if you are getting some photos printed and you don’t know what the image ratio of the digital file?

If you are using an online print service you will be able to see after you upload your image and select the size that you wish to be printed. Lines or a box will demonstrate the crop and usually you can move the image around to choose where the crop occurs.

If you are using an in store print lab, you can ask the staff for assistance or use the print ordering software just as you would for an online print service.


Screenshot of the cropping of a photo
Cropping of a photo using Snapfish