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Tips & Tricks

An Easy Guide on Where To Crop for a Portrait

By fotosiamo on March 2nd 2013

Whether you are shooting portraiture or an engagement couple, it is important to be mindful where you should and should not crop a person. The most basic fundamental to remember is simply to not crop at the joint like the elbows, wrists, or knees. It is better to crop just above or below the joints.

Digital Camera World has an easy-to-follow visual guide that illustrates this basic cropping rule with the infographic below. Areas where you can crop are marked in green, while areas where you should not crop are marked in red. Simple, right?

(Note: The only lines I would switch here are the thighs and the knees. I would crop at the thighs, but not the knees)

Finally, if you are shooting a couple and there is a height difference between the two, you can have the taller of the two stand in a wider “A” stance to minimize that height difference.


Image courtesy of

Thanks to The Phoblographer for the find!


Joe is a rising fashion and commercial photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. He blends creativity and edge with a strong style of lighting and emotion in his photographs. Be sure to check out his work at and connect with him on Google Plus and on Facebook


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  1. Scott Pacaldo

    I would also switch the Shin and Ankle marks. I believe cropping on the shin is way better than on the ankle area. If you crop on the joints (bendy parts) it will look more like an amputee than cropping on the long-bones.

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  4. ThatRusty

    I like Zack Arias’s approach of, “Don’t crop where people bend”

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  5. Ronaldgjohnson

    Great stuff. ..takes some common sense too. Thanks

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  6. TDP

    This is helpful.  I too agree with swapping the knee/thigh crop lines.  I may just not be “getting it” I can be sort of slow sometimes, but, how can you crop at any of the green waist/torso crops, without violating the red arm crops?

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    • Joe Gunawan

      The waist have some flexibility in where you can crop, so generally I like to keep the crop so it’s not at the elbows or the wrists. Be mindful too if they’re bending their arms so you’re not partially cropping the hands or fingers.

      – Joe

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  7. lagleim

    This is great thank you!

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