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Fashion Expert Cajsa Lilliehook: Cropping is the Fashion Bloggers Best Friend

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Cropping is an element of composition that can change a photo from static to dynamic in seconds.  In shooting people, or avatars in the case of Second Life,  there are four standard crops: full-length, three-quarter, portrait and headshot. The first rule of cropping: Crop close and fill the frame.

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For this full-length, I start with a standard snapshot. The 3*3 grid illustrates the Rule of Thirds, namely the subject should be where the lines intersect. It's an approximation of phi, the Golden Ratio. Starting from the left, you can see I put the subject on the vertical third, yet the photo lacks energy because I am looking out of the frame. I want to leave room for the subject to move. With the subject in the center, it's flat and static. In the third, I apply the rule of thirds, but not to the subject, missing the point. Finally, the subject intersects the first vertical line and is looking into the frame – with room to move. This picture has energy.

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In this three-quarter you can see the Rule of Thirds at work again and the importance of having the subject look into the frame. Incidentally, if you make composites of multiple pictures, look at where their eyes are and make them look at each other, not out of the frame. The three-quarter crop is the most popular in fashion photography because it fills the frame more than a full-length shot. Crop close and fill the frame.

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This portrait set illustrates a couple of points about portraits. You usually should crop below the fullest portion of the breast. Watch your arms and hands and cut them off above the elbow so nobody is fretting about amputation. The crop still works in the left because it's close to the elbow. I placed a slug (“Cajsa”) in these two to illustrate another rule – don't put the slug in the subject's line of sight. Crop close and fill the frame.

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Headshots are zoomed close in and can be anywhere from the shoulders up. Don't be afraid to chop off bits of the head. Making viewers think – even about topping off your updo – will make your photo more
memorable. This tip is not about cropping, but about zooming correctly in SL. The left is zoomed with the keyboard, the right is zoomed with CMD-0. CMD-9 resets the picture and CMD-8 will zoom out. Use them and
crop close and fill the frame.

ABOUT CAJSA LILLIEHOOK
Cajsa Lilliehook started It’s Only Fashion in 2008 with Gidge Uriza. She also has a column called “What I Like” highlighting good fashion photography from Second Life at Shopping Cart Disco. 

Cajsa is one of today's Fashion Experts and will be "on call" to respond to comments and answer questions both here and in the Fashion Forums from 9 am - 4 pm, Pacific Standard Time, Tuesday, September 20. 


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You always share awesome tips Cajsa. Cropping is such an important part of the image, it could totally make or break it. I struggle with cropping myself so often and always doubt myself even after posting. This is great advice, definitely gonna be using it in the future!  

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Thanks so much! That pesky 400 word limit  made writing about composition overall impossible, but of all the elements of composition, I think cropping is the one each and every one of us uses - regardeless of skill level with editing software - and can make or break a photo so quickly. 

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Thank you so much, Casja. Cropping is the one thing I struggle with most  and always feel most doubtful about. Thank you once again for sharing such amazing and helpful and information.

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