Photographer David Loftus has photographed all but one of Jamie Oliver’s best-selling cookery books. His stripped-back, fuss-free approach has won him many awards. If you own one of Oliver’s books, you might have noticed that many of the bowls, boards and cups are shot with their edges clipped. This kind of tight cropping works brilliantly with circular objects, because our brain fills in the gaps to complete the circle. It also deals with the problem of portraying a circular object in a rectangular frame.

Whether we decide to physically move closer to a subject, zoom in, or make adjustments during post-production, a tight crop can help to remove anything from the frame that does not add to the story, distilling an image down to its core elements.

  1. You can buy L-shaped guides to help you visualise a crop before releasing the shutter, but you can also make a set out of card. Hold them in front of you to create a rectangle and then move them in slowly.
  2. Framing a portrait so that the top of your subject’s head is missing ensures that the eyes fall in the top part of an imaginary grid, thus adhering to the rule of thirds. (If you do this make sure it looks deliberate!)
  3. There are plenty of cropping tools available in Lightroom and Photoshop. When you crop this way you have the benefit of returning to the original file. Make sure the file is noise-free and sharp when viewed at 100%.
  4. If you’re shooting a portrait, animal or moving subject don’t forget to leave a little extra space for the eyes or body to ‘travel’ into. Cropping too tightly can leave the viewer’s gaze with nowhere to go.