Monday, February 4, 2008

Scrapbooking 101: Photo Cropping

Trimming your photographs is one of the first things that most scrapbookers are taught. We do this for several reasons: to be able to include more pictures on a page, to create a focal point for a picture, or to remove distracting background images. As you flip though recent scrapbooking magazines and idea books, you will find that cropping has taken on some new trends that can greatly enhance the overall look of your scrapbook pages. Here are three cropping methods to consider before you cut into your very next photo.

1) Cropping For Balance and Focus:

We are seeing less and less of cropping pictures into a myriad of shapes to fill our scrapbook pages. Not everything need be, or should be, a circle, oval, hexagon, etc. When you look at the layouts that make the covers of today's most popular scrapbooking periodicals, you will see that the photos are amazing, capturing the feelings of the moments in beautiful focused color. If you are not the ace photographer that you hope to be someday, or if you have children who have the tendency to move at just the wrong moment making the perfect photo hard to capture, use selective photo cropping to make your pictures even better.

2) Cropping and Enlarging:

A fairly new and hot trend in photo cropping is cropping and enlarging. Choosing the perfect section of your photo and then enlarging it to 5"x7" makes an instant focal point for your scrapbook page. Even just one photo of a special event cropped and enlarged can create a fabulous scrapbook page. If you haven't tried out the Kodak Picture Maker at Walmart/Kmart, you may want to give it a try. This machine allows you to scan in your photo, zoom in on a particular section, and then enlarge that section to whatever size you select. The heat setting process that the machine uses to print the finished photos, creates keepsakes that will last just as long as your original color photographs, according to the Kodak. You can also do this same procedure with your scanner and color printer at home. Inkjet ink, however, probably will not last quite as long even in archival conditions.

3) Cropping Creatively

You can still have fun with photo shapes on your pages. Great new tools and books are available to inspire your cropping creativity. Use these types of cropped photos sparingly and they will add fun surprise elements to your pages. Quick Tip: When cropping creatively, I avoid using decorative scissors to cut photos. The fancy edge draws the eye away from the focus of the photo and becomes a distracting. Instead, use your scissors to cut mats for your photos from complimentary colors of cardstock. This creates a decorative edge without taking away from the photo itself.

Begin by choosing the photos you wish to crop for your album page. Determine how much of the photo is necessary to create focus and unify the theme of your page, i.e. you don't need that stranger that stepped into the picture of your children in the park. Do not remove anything from your photo that has historical significance. Choose a shape for the photo. Some ideas include: ovals, circles, hearts, and geometrics (including squares and rectangles). Cut the shape using a circle or oval cutter, trace the shape from a template and use scissors, or use a paper trimmer to remove straight sections of the photo. To remove harsh corners (if desired) use a corner punch to round them or add other corner details, or use decorative scissors to cut across the corner at a 45 degree angle. Repeat these steps for each photo, keeping in mind the theme you have chosen for your page (possibly even a shape driven theme i.e. all ovals or circles).

Tips: NEVER cut Polaroid photos; the chemicals in them will leak out and destroy the picture and your page. You may choose not to crop Heritage photos, keeping them all exactly as they were handed down to you for scrapbooking. Remember that the purpose of cropping is to create focus for the eye and to save room on each scrapbook page.

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