The Littoral Series IV : On cropping – Marseille harbour kids


As I mentioned in an earlier post, no post processing was allowed during the course. Each evening we would turn in our memory cards (or film) with 50 pictures that would be printed in 10 x 13 format for the next day editing. Cropping was therefore excluded which stirred quite a few discussions between us. Should cropping be allowed in reportage ? Eric thought the initial vision of the photographer should always remain unaltered. I do agree yet provided the camera’s output is an accurate image of what photographer did indeed envision. Leica cameras for example have a framelines system with a safety factor built in, meaning the picture will usually be bigger than the area the photographer sees in the frame. Add to that the parralax effect and it is difficult to anticipate exactly what a picture will look like.

Take a look at the first picture below taken in the Marseille harbour. A little girl stares at a departing boat. The ship’s position was not perfect yet I think the picture works. (click on pictures to enlarge)


Well, the picture above is actually a crop of the picture below.


Leica M9 with 35mm Summilux Asph at F1.4, 1/4000, ISO200, ND filter

As you can see, the girl was accompanied by her little brother. Initially, they were both contemplating the boat but as I  positioned myself, the boy suddenly turned and walked away. My initial vision was altered and I bent a bit my camera in hope to still keep the kid in the frame. This resulted in a picture that is in my opinion less appealing. So which picture should be kept in a reportage ? The most pleasing or the most authentic? But wait …. authentic …  did I mention that the kids’ father was also standing at their right ? It was a pure aesthetics choice of mine to exclude him from the picture since he wore an ugly bermuda with matching backpack. That leads me to the conclusion that a picture is never an accurate depiction of reality, but only the photographer’s perception in a given point of time. To me, as long as the end picture reflects your vision, cropping should be allowed.

This being said, the picture did not make the final cut.

6 Responses to “The Littoral Series IV : On cropping – Marseille harbour kids”

  1. Thomas dit :

    Children the little boy’s age are like birds. They jump around so much that it’s difficult to get a good candid.

  2. Valery dit :

    Totally agree with you, sometimes a crop is necessary to have the exact message we want to communicate.



    [Barcelona Daily Photo]

  3. Richard Clark dit :

    I feel you have lost the innocence and there fore the strength of the scene by cropping, there is less story and now it’s simply another image.

  4. admin dit :

    Richard, looking at the pictures again, you might be right, there is something about the uncropped version. Less perfect technically but maybe more alive.

  5. Fotoleica dit :

    Interesting discussion. I always crop and post process if necessaryto achieve ‘my’ desired image look. Sometimes one gets the impression from ‘purists’ that this is wrong and it would seem that your course leader is of that school of thought. There is an interesting article in this months LFI Magazine from Leica which supports the opposite point of view. The image on page 49 would not have been possible without pp and all imapct would have been lost

  6. admin dit :

    too bad I am no longer subscribed to LFI.
    Did you know that one of the most famous street photographers changed the crop of his pictures depending on the support (book, show). He would do whatever crop necessary to render his interpretation of a picture on a given day.
    His name was …. Walker Evans.