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Updated: Jun 20, 2023

Good bye to old school crops and say hello to adding a fashion flair.

beauty portrait with gold fabric

Every once in a while I will get asked, "Noelle, I like this one, but where is the top of my head, can you add it back in?"

Every year growing up, we are all used to getting our yearbook photo. We are trained to what yearbook photos/headshots 'should' be. It includes cropping a little below your shoulders, your eyes are in the middle of the frame and you still get all of your head.

It can definitely feel uncomfortable at first when you see something different.

Go ahead and look back at your old yearbooks.....see what I mean?

Your brain gets trained that this is what a headshot should look like, but should it stay like that?

Over time portrait cropping rules have changed, I believe for the better!

I am going to introduce you to the new rules of portrait and fashion cropping.

Like many trends, the bending of the portrait photography rules start with the fashion industry. Let's take a quick search on Google for fashion magazine covers.

magazine cover samples

Count the number of times that heads have been cut off to some degree.

Look at the positioning of the eyes on every cover. No matter the distraction, your attention goes straight to the eyes.

Eye contact is such a powerful thing!

Let's take a look at old school cropping rules, with the new rules of cropping and compare the difference.

showing difference in cropping with rule of thirds

Notice how you respond to each image.

Closeups give us more of a feeling of connection.

The images on the left (include the whole head) your eyes are looking lower. She seems smaller in the frame and more submissive or unsure.

Now the images on the right your eyes are drawn up. Just like the fashion world wants you to look at your icons! They appear much more confident, more assurance and more powerful. Luckily our minds know they have a top to their head, that subconsciously gets filled in! But what if you really, really want to see the top of her head? There's a simple solution to that. Your photographer need only step back a few steps. The composition rules stay in place but the subject becomes smaller and smaller in the frame.

how different crops can transform an image

Notice how the eyes are placed in the upper third? Not one crop is better than the other, but I will say you get more intimate connection where the subject's face fills most of the frame. Even though the top of the head is cut off!

Get it now?

The Rule of Thirds is all about creating pleasing compositions with points of impact.

What is the most important impact in a portrait? The eyes!

Now that you know how cropping can change the impact of an image try it at home!

Play around with the cropping of your Facebook Profile, it doesn't have to be completely centered. I bet you will never look at a row of fashion magazines the same again.

Centered crops are sooo old school, be more modern and crop it like it's hot! Want to see more fashion-forward portraits? Head on over to

Want to learn more RIGHT NOW? I have a blog post just perfect for you!

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