Why sometimes an 8x10 just doesn't work

So you decided to print some of your portraits from your recent photo session or maybe that awesome picture you captured with your phone of your daughter.  That's great!  Now the big question:  what size should you print it?

Most people have heard of the universal sizes 4x6, 5x7, and 8x10.  But are those really the right sizes for your photos?  I'm here to tell you, that sometimes those sizes just don't work.

Generally, when we take portraits with a decent camera there is a specific size that the file is made into: 4x6 portrait or a 2:3 ratio.  

This is the size that comes out of most cameras, 4x6, or a 2:3 ratio.

This is the size that comes out of most cameras, 4x6, or a 2:3 ratio.

So what were to happen if you wanted to increase the size to a 5x7?  Keeping the right side of the portrait all the way over so not to lose some of dad's knee, you can see there's not that much of a difference.  You seem to crop a little closer to mom's toes, but it's still ok.

5x7 print takes off just a bit from the edge of a portrait, but not enough to make a big impact on the portrait.

5x7 print takes off just a bit from the edge of a portrait, but not enough to make a big impact on the portrait.

When you crop to an 8x10, you are changing the ratio drastically and losing 2 inches off the end of the portrait.  Mom's toes are almost to the edge of the frame and dad's knees are really close as well.

Notice how much is cut off from the original 4x6 print?  

Notice how much is cut off from the original 4x6 print?  

In these examples, because I included so much extra negative space, or empty space off to the left, creating this into an 8x10 portrait really wasn't that bad.  Unless of course the client and the photographer wanted that extra negative space in the portrait to create a visual effect.  Also remember, when you place a portrait inside a frame, you're generally losing another 1/4 inch all the way around to be able to hold it into the frame.  In this case, there would be no extra space at all.  The frame would go all the way to dad's knee and mom's toes.  But what happens when you have a portrait with no room to be cropped?

Here is a portrait with mom and baby.  I purposely photograph these portraits close for a couple reasons.  One to really show the closeness and bond between mom and baby; and two because new moms normally don't feel like showing off too much of their post-baby body.  So here's the original format, the 4x6 portrait.

The original format of the portrait shows all of baby and  a little bit of room above mom's head.

The original format of the portrait shows all of baby and  a little bit of room above mom's head.

When we crop to a 5x7, mom is slowly losing room above her head and we are cropping closer to baby's toes.

The 5x7 portrait really isn't that bad, but mom is slowly losing room above her head.

The 5x7 portrait really isn't that bad, but mom is slowly losing room above her head.

You really notice the effect of the crop when you try to print it as an 8x10.  You lose some of mom's head AND you lose baby's toes. Displayed in a frame, you would also lose another 1/4" all the way around to be able to hold it into the frame.  It would be cropped further into the top of mom's head and into baby's knee.  This is not the best way to display this portrait.

Not only do you lose baby's toes, you also cut into mom's head in the 8x10 portrait.

Not only do you lose baby's toes, you also cut into mom's head in the 8x10 portrait.

When you hire a photographer to take your portraits, you're also hiring them to help you decide which portraits should be displayed where and how.  You are hiring them for their expertise and their knowledge of how your portraits should be displayed.  Next time, ask your photographer to help you so you can display your portraits beautifully and not cropped!

To inquire about a custom experience and a photography session with Jessica LS Photography, contact her today at hello@jessicalsphotography.com