How To Crop Your Digital Photo For Printing

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Has this happened to you recently? Maybe you sent a great picture of your family reunion to the lab only to have it come back with Uncle Joe missing a limb and Aunt Sally missing in action. This is a very common issue when it comes to ordering prints. You have the perfect picture but it just won’t fit inside the darn print!

Aspect Ratio
This is due to something that may not be so obvious at first. It’s easy to tell the difference between a square and a rectangle. How about a panorama print and a 4×6? But, how about a 4×6 and 5×7? At first glance a 4×6 and 5×7 are very similar but the shapes are significantly different when it comes to fitting an image on there. These differences are measured and recognized through something called aspect ratio. It’s basically a ratio between the height and width of the print.

Math Doesn’t Lie
Let’s look at a 4×6 for example. The ratio is 4:6 which can also be expressed as 4 divided by 6 which equals 0.67. There are other sizes that are proportional to this common aspect ratio. Let’s consider an 16×24. The ratio is 16:24 which can be expressed as 16 divided by 24 which also equals 0.67–an exact match! Even though these prints are very different in size, they will fit your image just the same.

Now let’s look at three very common print sizes, 4×6, 5×7 and 8×10.

4×6     4/6 = 0.67

5×7     5/7 = 0.71

8×10   8/10 = 0.80

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The higher the aspect ratio the closer we get to a square and the lower the number the closer we get to a skinny rectangle. Just remember to divide the smaller number by the bigger number.

10×10     10/10 = 1.00

10×20     10/20 = 0.50

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Remember the 4:6 (0.67) aspect ratio because that’s the aspect ratio of the images shot by your DSLR. So if you want a full frame print that doesn’t crop your image, look for print sizes that have the same aspect ratio.

Let’s Make It Easier
Fortunately, you don’t have to do all this math when we’re submitting an order here at Fotoworks Pro. We make it easy to see where your image will crop in our ordering system. You can just use your mouse to move your image so it looks the best with the given print size.

TIP: Give Yourself Room!
If you’re shooting images that you know will be printed in different sizes that are not in the 4:6 aspect ratio, remember to give yourself enough room around the subject. For example, when shooting school portraits, the most common sizes are wallets, 5x7s and 8x10s. Wallets and 5x7s maybe very similar but the 8x10s are dramatically different in aspect ratio. You want to make sure you have plenty of room around the subject so that you can get a decent crop in the different shots. Cameras these days have megapixels to spare. So if you’re shooting for 8x10s and smaller, it’s better to err on the side of more room than less.

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Images provided by Frank Salas Studios