In Defense of Badly Cropped Family Photos

You’ve seen the new DSLR cameras at every children’s party, and you’ve probably seen the vast amount of untrained (and mostly untalented) newbie “pro” photographers cropping up all over Facebook and on Wix websites. Everyone with a $900+ camera is a photographer, right? Well I’m here to tell you that while, yes, technology has improved our collective abilities to capture those special moments in our lives, there is a charm to the horrible family photos hiding away in your (or your parents’) old photo albums.

In Defense of Badly Cropped Family PhotosCheck out the two photos here. Neither one is going to win this forgotten family photographer the World Press Photo of the Year award, but there is a certain something that’s been captured which the family will treasure and value forever. That treasure is not in the well-cropped photo. That treasure is in the horribly-cropped, way-too-far-away-by-professional-standards original photograph.

Notice that while the perfectly cropped version shows the mother and son in their precious moment when the mother is basking in the glory of her son’s 8th birthday, and the son just wanting to dive into that chocolate cake, there is something missing.

The missing elements are the little things which help you remember what it was like to be there at that moment. The little girl enjoying the moment of familial sweetness, the horrible-for-you-but-awesomely-tasting party food, and the super-sweet 70’s wall paneling. These are the elements of nostalgia which would be lost forever with a modern day DSLR and talented (or at least semi-talented) photographer. OK, well, maybe the paneling can remain in the forgotten past…but I digress.

While I’m not suggesting to take horrible photographs on purpose, maybe a good compromise to keep aware of is the not just capture the perfect little cropped moments, but be sure to click a few extra clicks in the direction of the surroundings of all your special events. There’s a reason why wedding photographers capture accents and elements. They know every details will be fawned and reminisced over for the rest of the couples’ lives. Photograph all the elements around you, because they’ll never happen again, but can always be cherished if you can capture them.

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