ow many times have you gotten an email from a client wondering why their print has someone’s foot cut off at the bottom or someone’s hair cut off at the top?
What caused the issue? How can you avoid it in the future?
Most of the time, photography print issues and cut-offs are due to a lack of knowledge of aspect ratio, specifically the difference in aspect ratio between the original image and the aspect ratio of the client’s chosen print product.
In this blog post, we’re breaking down aspect ratios: the definition, what the most common aspect ratios are in the photography world, and how to explain aspect ratios concerning printing to your clients.
What is Aspect Ratio?
Aspect Ratio is the proportional relationship or ratio of an image's width and height. Aspect ratios are typically displayed as two numbers separated by a colon symbol and indicate the width and height of an image, for example, 1:1 or 5:7. In the photography world, aspect ratio directly affects photography prints if the wrong print size is ordered. Imagine a rectangle image is printed on a square canvas… some parts of the rectangle image will have to be cropped.
What are the Most Common Aspect Ratios?
Aspect Ratio 2:3
Most cameras default to photographing in a 2:3 ratio based on the ratio created by 35mm film becoming the industry standard. Chances are good, if you are delivering images to clients and have not changed the crop aspect ratio in your camera or post-processing, your images will be found in a 2:3 ratio.
Aspect Ratio 5:7 and 4:5
These are common print size aspect ratios that you may recognize as being the ratio of some of the most popular print sizes— 5x7 inch and 8x10 inch prints. Keep in mind these common print ratios often differ from the ratios that are “standard” in-camera and will most likely require image cropping to achieve the aspect ratio.
Aspect Ratio 1:1
This is a common aspect ratio for social media and print where the length and the width are equal in length. This aspect ratio of 1:1 will be a perfect square.
Aspect Ratio 16:9
This is a common aspect ratio for video and for images found to fill the screens of smartphones (Think: YouTube Video). This is a common and recognizable aspect ratio that is primarily found in the digital world while being less common in the printed image world.
If you flip this aspect ratio to 9:16, you will have the aspect ratio for Instagram Stories and TikTok.
How to Prep Your Images for Clients and Photography Prints
Because many of the most common print sizes differ from our standard 2:3 ratio, what is necessary to properly prepare your images for print in another aspect ratio?
Your best bet for altering your aspect ratio is a quick crop. This can easily be done in most printing software interfaces, including your CloudSpot storefronts. Double-check the edges to ensure everything you would like to be in frame, including feet, hands, and tops of heads is inside this aspect ratio crop!
With canvases, in addition to adjusting the crop/aspect ratio of an image, the image will also have a small portion of the edges cropped due to the margin reserved for stretching the canvas wrap. In addition to selecting the correct crop for the aspect ratio, you’ll also need to allocate the margins that will be stretched over the frame. Within your CloudSpot Storefront, this will be indicated to Storefront shoppers with a frame in your gallery accent color.
Swipe Copy for You to Help Your Clients
Now and then, you’ll get an email from a client wondering why their image is appearing a certain way as they try to place an order from your Storefront. We wrote some easy swipe copy that you can grab, customize, and send to your photography clients when they reach out asking these particular questions. If you’re looking to maximize time saved, save these as email templates in your CloudSpot account! The following questions and answers can also apply to CloudSpot Print & Digital Store Packages.
Client Question: Image is cut off or How do I pick the crop?
“Hi, Client! I see you’re hoping to print [IMAGE FILE NAME] in the [IMAGE SIZE]. While this can be done, the reason you are seeing a change in the crop of the image is because of the change in length and width ratios between the original image and the printed crop. If you would like the image to be printed exactly as it is in a [larger/smaller] size, I would recommend selecting [Indicate a print/canvas size in a similar range as the image they were hoping to purchase] as the frame will fall within the original aspect ratio and is close to your desired print size. If you would like to order [IMAGE SIZE] specifically, select the image you would like to purchase, click buy, and select image size. If you are not satisfied with the overall crop, click on “Adjust Crop” and drag and drop the frame until your image is cropped to perfection. While some of the composition will likely change, the image should still print crisp and clear. Any additional questions, let me know!”
Client Question: How do I crop for a canvas?
“Hi, Client! I’m so excited to hear that you are interested in ordering a [CANVAS SIZE] canvas from your [session/wedding/event, etc.] I know we both want this to look perfect hanging on your wall, so be sure to follow the below instructions as you place your order.
Navigate to product options and select the image + product you would like to order
Click Adjust Crop and drag the frame until your image is framed as desired. Keep in mind that the area of the image highlighted in [ACCENT COLOR] will wrap around the edges of your canvas.
Because you would like to order a [CANVAS SIZE] canvas, you’ll see a slight change in the crop of the overall image because of the change in length and width ratios between the original image and the printed crop. If you would like to minimize cropping and compositional changes, I would recommend selecting [Indicate a print/canvas size in a similar range as the image they were hoping to purchase] as the canvas will fall within the original aspect ratio. If you would like to order [CANVAS SIZE] specifically, select the image you would like to purchase, click buy, and select canvas size. Follow the above cropping instructions to ensure your canvas will be printed to perfection. If you have any questions, I’m here to help!”
Ready to start selling your photography prints? Get started with CloudSpot today!