Crop Ratio

I photograph large families all summer long who gather on vacation at Bear Lake.  Because it is hard for large families to gather, the photos taken of their time together become extra special.  So here is another tip when planning and preparing your family portrait session.

Remember crop ratio, or aspect ratio.
Experience this summer has shown me that more needs to be explained about ratios.

Most large families easily arrange in a rectangle shape.  That is why I typically edit in a 4×6 crop ratio.  An image can be printed 4×6, 8×12, 12×18, 16×24 without cropping the picture.

Below are examples of other crop ratios you might want to print your photos.  Notice that with an 8×10 or similar ratio, there will be more sky and more foreground than other rectangle crop ratios.  If you do not want a lot of sky and foreground in your print, don’t print your image in a 4×5, 8×10, 16×20, or 20×24 ratio.  Avoid any ratio that is close to square.

  Knowing beforehand what print size the client wants their pictures, helps me in arranging the group.


This family below, during our pre-session consultations, informed me that they wanted an 8×10 crop ratio.  That they wanted the faces of the family as close as possible to be easily seen.  It definitely helps me to know that in advance.
But keep in mind that a large family of 30 or more individuals, is really hard to fit in a an 8×10 crop ratio.    You will be able to crop closer if you pick a long rectangle frame.

Below is a 50+ member family that wanted a jump photo.  So in order to see everyone, they spread out.  Afterwards, the feedback I got from the contact is that they couldn’t see the face expressions very well.
Do you see that I didn’t have much choice with so many people to fit in the frame?   I love this photo, and I hope this family will love it too for the energy and fun it shows.   This photo will not work well printed 8×10.  It will be full of sky.  I would recommend a 12×24 or similar rectangle size.

Crop ratio can easily be mistaken for print size.  So when I say I edit in a 4×6 crop ratio, that doesn’t mean 4×6 is the largest it can be printed.  The image can still be printed as large as you want.  Crop ratio has nothing to do with limiting the quality on how big an image is printed.

Please feel free to share any further questions you have about crop ratio.