I work with a team of graphic designers. The most common challenge we have is how to use photography which is great by itself, but when it comes to using these on placements across the website or app, the composition of the photo doesn't match to various ratios (e.g. a portrait picture cannot be decently designed to fit in a landscape banner).

One solution would be asking the photographer to always step out a few steps back when shooting so that in the output will have extra elements of the background to work with for designers. How could we give some practical and workable instructions to the photographer? or is there another way to solve this problem.

  • 1
    "Shoot loose" or "Shoot square format so I can compose/crop," has always worked for me. Of course, if you know what you want (have a layout) give it to the photographer.
    – Stan
    Mar 21, 2018 at 14:53

2 Answers 2


A quick sketch can give the photographer a 'better than guesswork' chance of supplying the images you need.

So, you need a girl on a bridge by a river, with some tall buildings in the background. You need it, for your main image, to be 4:3 portrait, but you also need to be able to re-crop for a banner...

'scuse the 'fine art' [I'm a photographer not an artist] but this is about all the illustrative detail required...

main 4:3

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so this is what they need to shoot...

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Give them all 3 crops & they can immediately see what you need. Keeping the illustration intentionally vague other than positionally allows them to place their own artistic stamp on the imagery, which is presumably why you chose that photographer.

BTW, "step back a bit" doesn't work as an instruction, because the photographer's conscious framing of a scene will already include elements such as background compression - which is in itself a feature of distance to subject:background as a ratio, combined with lens length to bring that chosen distance to best fill the frame.
"Use a shorter lens" would be the objectively 'best' instruction, but you have to allow that the photographer will already know how to do this.
"Please leave us a little extra crop" might be the most succinct way to get the message across - but personally I'd like to see that initial descriptive paragraph + those 3 simple drawings too.

  • 1
    Upvoted for the art. Can I buy an original or print? ;) Mar 22, 2018 at 9:48
  • I was thinking of doing it as a wall-sized triptych on canvas... sound good? In my defence, I have seen Picassos with not much more detail ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Mar 22, 2018 at 9:58

You could ask your photographer to provide landscape and portrait orientated versions of the same shot (where possible), or to avoid filling the frame with the subject (where possible).

For landscapes (as in photos of actual landscapes, or cityscapes), tell your photographer to provide you with wide-angle shots where possible.

Another possibility is to have your photographer assume that images will be reproduced at 1:1 (square) aspect ratio, and to always shoot in landscape orientation. That way you will have a bit more freedom to crop as desired.

Here's an example of what I mean by that.

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Such an image allows for both landscape or protrait 3:2 crops

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Some professional cameras can display a 1:1 crop grid via the LDC screen in live view shooting, or via an electronic viewfinder, for the purposes of composing. But using that is not always practical. If the photographer is using a DSLR with an optical viewfinder, chances are he'll need to learn to see the subject in terms of 1:1 for the purposes of composition. Another possibility with some pro-grade DSLR cameras with interchangeable focussing screens, is to use one with a 1:1 crop grid etched on the screen.

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