Do You Suffer From OCD? Don't worry - you're not alone!

Sammon Carmargue horses.jpg

My friends: Do you suffer from OCD - Obsessive Cropping Disorder? If so, you're not along. I have OCD, too.

But for me, it gets worse. When I send my cropped images off to a book or magazine publisher, I attached the accompanying note: Crop my pictures and you're a dead man! :-)

All kidding aside, I stress the importance of not cropping off a single pixel from one of my images.

Sure, I try to get it right in camera, but somethings, especially with action photography, that is just not possible. What's more, I want the largest possible image area with which to work, so I can make the largest possible print with the least amount of noise. When I do get some noise, I reduce it with Topaz DeNoise - my favorite noise-reduction plug-in.

OCD has afflicted me for years, but in going through my Provence Camargue horse images to share with those joining my 2015 Provence Photo Workshop, I realized the seriousness of the situation. I am sharing my favorite images here as a kind of OCD group therapy.

For example, take the opening image for this post. It was cropped from the image below.

carmargue horses

OCD kicked in immediately when I viewed the image on my camera's LCD monitor: the small clusters of horses (with their butts cut off) on the left had to go.

sammon provence 5.jpg

Master photographer Edward Weston said, "Composition is the strongest way of seeing." I agree 100% - which is why I named my KelbyOne class, Composition - the strongest way of seeing.

Cropping, I feel, gives us a second chance at composition. The image of the horses above was cropped from the image below.

Again, when I looked at the image on my camera's LCD monitor, I envisioned a much tighter crop.

Cropping, like composition, is subjective. My original crop was just one idea. Above is another. It's a better crop, I feel, if you are looking for a behind-the-scenes image. It tells a different story, simply by way of a different crop.

Above is yet another crop. The idea: Look for an image within an image.

When I open a photograph in Lightroom or Photoshop (both of which I teach on my workshops), the first thing I do is crop. OCD usually kicks in because I am usually looking for an image with impact. I feel the image above has more impact than the uncropped version below. That said, there is something to be said for negative space.

Another crop might be a tight vertical, as shown below on the right. That would make a perfect bookmark, or a nice print for a narrow space.

Some photographers might think that OCD presents a challenge when it comes to printing an image - because the image will not fit into a standard (8x10, 11x14, etc.) mat or frame. But that's not a big deal. It just requires a bit of added creativity.

rick sammon.jpg

The image above was cropped from the image below.

I had a custom mat and frame made by American Frame for a custom print that I had made by Adorama Pix.

AdoramaPix, in fact, is one of the few labs I have found that will print an image exactly to my specifications. AdoramaPIx does not trim a print. Rather, the image comes printed on a standard size piece of paper with white space surrounding the image area - hence the creative step of making a custom mat. 

So my fellow OCD "suffers," crop away. Think like a painter: only include on your "digital canvas" the elements in a scene that are important to tell a story - your story.

I hope to see you on one of my Creative Visualization Workshops - where we visualize the end result, which often includes cropping - as illustrated in the image above, which is cropped to the movie-screen format.

In a future post I will discuss OSS - Over Sharpening Syndrome. I don't have it, but I have seen many examples of it.

Explore the light,