Clean Up Your Photos' Background with In Camera Cropping

A few weeks ago the kids were outside blowing bubbles while I worked on my Souvenir Foto School photography assignment of the week. A portion of the assignment involved mastering in camera cropping. If you've never heard of ICC it isn't a camera setting, it simply means eliminating distractions and elements that detract from your image by repositioning yourself in relation to your subject. I've read more photography books than I care to admit and I have yet to see a super simple explanation of the benefits of in camera cropping as it relates to cleaning up your photograph's background. I was pretty excited for the assignment because in camera cropping is a technique I've had to master due to our apartment's cozy space constraints. I've had to get really creative with my positioning and ICC since if I'm not careful I'll show you all a lot more mess than you care to see : )

Allow me to demonstrate.


This image is definitely cute but notice the horizontal line of the fence running through Cameron's head and the distracting toy bokeh and minivan to her left.


I moved and got closer to the kids but there is a tree protruding from Cameron's head and some cars in the distance to Preston's right.


Getting closer but those cars to the right are a little annoying.


Ah! I got a keeper. I turned myself again, got closer, and made sure to use a high aperture. In a perfect world I would have moved the picnic table in the distance but I try not to be too obsessive.

Hopefully you can see the improvements to the images. Had I been standing further away from Preston you would have seen the parking lot to his right. I only shoot with prime lenses which means I zoom with my feet : ) my lenses are fixed and don't move. It's a personal preference but the same principles apply to zoom lenses as well.

This is an easy photography technique to master. Grab your camera, pick a subject, shoot from various angles and varying distances. Keep going until you get a shot free of distracting background elements. It's easier than you think and will soon become second nature. Your pictures will improve drastically once you've trained your eye to seek and avoid elements that detract from your images.

*To see my best two shots from this series check out this post. Looks a lot better without the trees and random cars right?*

Know any in camera cropping tips? Share them in the comments.