working to the in-camera frame / by Darren Lewey

I have often joked that the room I use for teaching in Essaouira at Riad Maison du Sud should have a sign above the entrance saying 'no cropping' such is the discipline I admire with composing in camera.  Of course it's an inflexible objective for a couple of reasons that I'll discuss later but as a starting point for a Zen like approach towards achieving photographic Nirvana it's a decent objective to have. I always felt a little grubby as a teenager trying to crop my poorly composed images to fashion something more decent and in that regard for me photography is a creative discipline, one that requires intent looking, reflection with experience in mind and analysis, these are all in the field at the time of taking the photograph so framing is part of this and so inextricably bound. However putting that wonderful intense process aside, there's absolutely no reason why one should separate the act of taking the photograph to the act of finalising the image via the computer, a place where it can come to life. The image is being made and to draw a line at stage one is arbitrary.  Where I do sometimes crop is in locations when my longest lens is insufficient to find the composition; and in mind I will crop later. These limitations are lens limited and would find a solution in further purchases but economically is doesn't make sense. The second reason I reach for cropping is when photographing people. Even sometimes in portraiture it's possible to miss the frame and so a little crop can help. Having said this, there's a great satisfaction is composing at the time and finding that works later upon review. Really why shouldn't it, you've had time in the field to think about it and indeed that's where the image foundations are laid.