Dear Client, Stop Cropping My Photos on Facebook!

Guest Writer, Matt Kennedy is an International Wedding Photographer and has been shooting weddings for 7 years throughout North America, Mexico and Italy. He is well known for his Sparkler Shots and Marketing techniques and is always willing to share and raise the bar for the industry.

If there’s one thing the average Facebook user doesn't seem to execute properly it’s cropping their images. Cropping is such an integral part to the composition of a finished image, and when so much time and consideration has gone in to a shot being polished and complete, it kills me to see images destroyed by poor cropping. We all know that Facebook can bring a lot of referrals in, so you want to make sure that your images are presented in the most attractive way possible.

Now it’s not just the innocent bystanders fault… it’s Facebook, it’s mobile devices, it’s web browser windows, and it’s a lot to think about! We’re not just dealing with prints and frames anymore, we’re dealing with various shapes and sizes of viewing windows and we want to maximize the compatibility of our images with these things so our images are seen in their best light.

First we need to understand our clients' process for choosing images to showcase in such coveted positions as the Facebook cover photo and profile photo. Usually it comes down to them getting amazing images of themselves (or their cats) and then they will click on the cover image of their profile page and select “Change Cover” and then “Upload Photo.” This is what they’re used to doing for the most part... and most people haven’t noticed the option of “Use as Profile Picture” or “Use as Cover Photo”. This means the client has to have the image on their computer or mobile device in order to upload it. Then when they upload it they are able to re-position the photo, but I’m not sure that they always do. This is why we need to prepare them some images that they will not have to crop. Also, images that you post to your business page cannot be used directly as cover images for some reason (thanks Facebook). The client has to download the image from there, or get it from the images you sent them, and upload it themselves.

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Here’s where you come in as the professional and the curator of your work. It is your job to give your client the best service possible, and I believe that one facet of that is making their life easy when it comes to printing and sharing their photos. Remember that it is in your best interest to put in a little extra effort so that you see the referral return because your work is showcased for everyone to see. So here are my top 5 tips for the Facebook Cover image and profile picture.

Choose some photos that will look good as facebook cover images and crop them in the aspect ratio of 1700W x 630H and export at 72DPI.

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Ensure that nothing important is in the lower left corner of the image because the profile picture window will interfere with it.
HINT: If the main focus of the shot is in the lower left, mirror the image so that it’s on the right. Clients most likely won’t know how to do this themselves, so you’re a hero!

Choose some close up shots that you think would make for a good profile picture and crop them to a square.
HINT: Usually close up shots work best for profile pictures as they are used as small thumbnails throughout Facebook and other websites that use Facebook login, so their faces will be recognizable even when small.

For weddings, choose at least 1 cover image of each of the following to maximize the chances of people using your photos as their cover image:
Bridesmaids with bride
Groomsmen with groom
Whole wedding party
Bride’s Immediate family
Groom’s Immediate family
Bride and groom together

Share the images with the couple in a separate collection (if using PASS) and let them know that you've chosen a few that you think would be great fits for them just to make their lives easier, but that they can use other images if they want as well. By you giving your input, you are now giving them service they didn't expect and putting the thought in their heads that this is what they should do with your photos anyways.

I have found great success with this system of sharing images, and many times have had the whole wedding party and many guests using my images the day after the wedding as their cover and profile photos. I hope this helps you get some more referrals and most of all helps your clients have a great experience with you as a photographer.

If you’d like more information about this or other topics, or if you just want to say Hi feel free to message me via Facebook or my website.

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Deleted Account's picture

I never do portrait photography but once a friend asked me for one! She was incredibly happy with the result (Shooting, Postproduction) But I was FREAKIN' PISSED OFF when she posted it on Facebok: CROPPED WITH AN INSTAGRMISHI FILTER THAT BLOWED UP EVERY DETAIL IN THE PHOTO!!!! ........ and that was my first and last Portrait ever :P

Matt Kennedy's picture

They like their filters don't they! ha..what a pain! I'm sure you could still rock some portraits though!

lololalallll's picture

They always do that. My cousin hires me for portraits and this time they went too far, demanding all the photos before I processed them and then posted her own fucked up versions with stupid white vignettes and crazy processing.

Lyle Turner's picture

I have no idea why you agreed to release unedited images to an individual, but I wouldn't even do that for my own mother! Now when I do commercial print work for publications, some larger clients ask for the RAW file because they have people who know what they are doing and are going to be manipulating the image in several ways for their own purposes, which is the terms for most larger ad campaigns. And it's not like my name is anywhere to be found on the final print anyway.

Alexandra Giamanco's picture

That's why us pro's use terms and conditions forms and write precisely what the client can and cannot do!

Theresa Z's picture

That's what I was thinking.

Edmond Yap's picture

Photos are meant for many purposes, but one of them is to make people happy. Even if your photo is screwed beyond recognition, why not be happy for them instead of being pissed off with them?

Then again, if they did major editing that you don't like to be associated with you, then they shouldn't say that it's your work...

Alexandra Giamanco's picture

I cannot be happy when someone is trashing my work! We don't just "point and shoot", we are businesses, and have an image/brand to protect. If someone sees that image trashed by a customer, and the customer tells them who took it, they won't be impressed! My agreements are discussed and signed long before I click the shutter, and terms are set and respected by my clients, and everyone is happy.

Regan Shorter's picture

I always just include a social media agreement in my contracts and have a cute reminder slip added when they get their photos! Just let them know it's a great time to use the hashtag #nofilter :)

Antonio Carrasco's picture

It's not so much cropping that bugs me--it's when I see someone has added instagram filters on top of my photos...NO LIKE!!!!

Matt Kennedy's picture

I hear ya! and Instagram crops to square...we just can't win ;) Unless every person used squareready and cared about our cropping :)

S Wade's picture

And that's why you don't give the rights to your photos to clients. Re-edit my photos, you break the law.

Antonio Carrasco's picture

LOL, yeah. Good luck explaining the details of copyright to some dummy off Model Mayhem. You can literally see their eyes glaze over and their mind wander to a far away land. It is hard enough trying get them to understand that just because they appear in a photograph doesn't make that photograph their property.

And the worst part is that when you do find someone editing your photos or putting instagram filters on them, if you confront that person, it almost always some young, dumb kid that acts like you are being such a jerk for asking them not to photoshop your pics. It can be really frustrating being made to feel like the bad guy for trying to protect your work.

Ariana @ Silver Daisies Studio's picture

"Hey I don't mean to sound like a b!tch! But you know that instagram filter you just threw on my picture? It's illegal (remember that paper thing you claimed to read and signed for me?!)! And I'd hate to have to tell my lawyer - that would be a super bummer for you! So thanks for understanding and taking the image down!"
^Break it down reaaaaalllll simple for them, they'll get it eventually. haha

Michael Null's picture

Unfortunately, sending a cease and desist (or threatening to) when someone thinks they know better than you (which they don't) could easily turn into a lot of trash talking from that person on the social networks where they're already jacking up your work and making it look bad.

If you're working for the general public, it's just better to charge them a little more, sell them the rights and give them non-watermarked images.

Michael Null's picture
Alexandra Giamanco's picture

Mention penalties as in "money" they will have to pay if they don't respect your terms. "Money" always wakes these people up. "Collections" etc.

Jeissi Fanchin's picture

i agree with you, have been in this situation rescently, got so
pissed, i deliver some images with a watermark/copyright to a client to
be use, for social website like facebook, the person just use some
crappy photo filter on facebook in public to make change in my work, i
was mad, cos this make me look very bad, i tell her frankly, she
understand and remove it, but in some ways, you are the one who look
bad, even though you the one doing the right thing, now am very prudent,
about selecting my clients and also, gonna make sure to make them sign
agreement, terms and conditions, maybe explain to them the uses before the shoot, don't wanna go through that again

Lyle Turner's picture

Even without rights released, if they alter the image enough, the courts will allow for "artistic rendering" which does not break copyright law. But to be fair, an instagram filter would not be enough of a modification. Also, who would pay good money for an image without at least a limited copyright release? You need that much just to make your own prints or have business cards made.

Alexandra Giamanco's picture

Something you should specify in your terms and conditions agreement. There are many templates available on PPA, or ASMP etc, so they are not hard to find. If they want to add filters to their photos, then they should take their own photos. OR, discuss this with you before the shoot, so the expectations are clearly set on both sides.

Frank Donnino's picture

Matt your advise here is off the charts. I will begin to put it into practice immediately! Going to make a Lighroom export preset right now! Thank you!

Matt Kennedy's picture

Great Frank!

Mary Veterano's picture

Awesome tips, Matt! I'll definitely be doing this for my clients!

Matt Kennedy's picture

Thanks Mary! Great to hear :)

Nicolas Lambert's picture

I don't understand why do you write "export at 72dpi".
Since, the DPI for screen display is define by the kind of screen of the user and the density of its pixels, it does not make any sense to specify it during the export for a facebook usage.
It's relevant only for printing, isn't it ?

Matt Kennedy's picture

You're right, it's doesn't make a difference for the file size for online use...but as far as online display goes, 72DPI is the standard I believe. Not a huge deal either way.

Mr Blah's picture

From how I understand it, you could write 2389570348975y3 dpi and it would change a damn thing.

DPI is only used when it goes out to a printer...

foggodyssey's picture

72dip will make the file much smaller and easier to upload. Anything over 72dip that your going to be using for the internet is a waste of space and time, bottom line.

Kyle Mahaney's picture

That's absolutely not true, the DIMENSIONS of the file are what matter! I can have a file that's 1000x1000 and if it's 300dpi it's just as compressible and small as if it's 72dpi. DPI = dots per inch. It only applies to displaying an image (not in this scenario cause the code handles the sizing of the image) and how big to print something.

Scott Hargis's picture

False. The only determining factors for a JPEG are pixel dimensions (which is NOT impacted by dpi) and compression settings.

Stefano Casati's picture

I was sure that somebody was clever to discover that a width in pixel x height in pixel at some DPI makes no sense.
DPI dots per inch makes sense only if you had width x heigh in inches or meter or anything but not pixel!!
People to understand this better should think 1pixel width x 1 pixel heigh at makes no sense, I can't have 1pixel and 72 at the same time.

Martin Melnick's picture

I did a portrait session once and spent hours on both the post color, as well as composite work for the background. When I delivered them, they loved the photos, but took a few of them, applied an instagram filter and recropped them for their profile pictures and then tagged me in the photo as the photographer. I about had a heart attack.

phoTobin photography's picture

Great article. Cropping is always such an issue on the social platforms. Providing cover image crops is a great addition is service!

Rob Barnes's picture

So heres my thought on it... Being honest here, if you dont want them to be cropped or uploaded with different filters on it, dont offer digital photos or make them sign a release about it. I think its rediculous to tell someone they cant do something with photos they bought. As a portrait photographer who used to deal with moms(and now models) who love to do the same thing you can just comment on the photo with your info OR say something along the lines of "nice filter you applied to the picture, you can see the original here(link)," I mean, its going to happen. I like the writers stance on being proactive to help curb it but to get mad about it is rediculous. Would you get mad at them for printing the picture and then cuting it to fit a frame? no, so why do you on fb?

Matt Kennedy's picture

GREAT comment! I'm so glad to hear that you care more about the clients positive experience with the photos than anything else...that's the most important thing!

Mr Blah's picture

you guys are both right IMO.

Matt you offer more with little more efforts, and robby you actually direct traffic to the original work.

Both practices should be used, not one or the other!

Note: most usefull post on Fstoppers in months...

Matt Kennedy's picture

Agreed! and thanks!

Rob Barnes's picture

Thanks Matt and Meh - both can be used in conjuction with each other to help the customer get the best experience.

Chris Burke's picture

this is actually a pretty good suggestion.. but its still them editing your copyrighted work.. you wouldn't edit the Mona Lisa.. its someones copywritten work.. sure you aren't famous.. but copyright is copyright.. law is law.. its still your work.. but this is why I take action before it happens.. i have a paragraph in my contract that states that they are not allowed to edit my photos in any way (this is mostly for applying filters).. truthfully I'm not to worried about cropping.. sometimes it can destroy a photo, but not as bad a a terrible filter from instagram.. so if I have a client who signed a contract, then i see that they did edit a photo, i wont call them out in public, I'll just drop them a private email saying "hey, remember that contract you signed, and that part we discussed (because I do go over this part with them) and i'll say, can you please take down the version with the filter if its not to much trouble.. and i'll explain why.. and i'll let them know that I can do more editing if they want.

Lyle Turner's picture

I could not agree more. This is the digital age and people want to be able to play with their images. And if you sold them the images, it had to have included at least a limited copyright release. Let them have fun. Direct them to places where they can have cool stuff made with the images you did for them. Would it be so bad if they put one of your images on their tshirt and walked around inadvertently advertising for you when people said how cool they looked? Get them to enjoy their images and they will be coming back to you and bringing friends next time.

Corey Melton's picture

This makes me giggle Lo. This is just part of the beast of being a photographer. Clients purchase your photos and can can what they like with them (within their legal rights at least). From now on, put a line or paragraph in your agreements asking clients not to change the original format, etc. of you final delivered images

David Jay's picture

Great article Matt!

Pascual Cora Jr.'s picture

Its their photo... once they pay me for the work I did I could care less what they do with them.

Chris Burke's picture

wow.. you are the first photographer I've ever heard say that.. my photos are my photos.. I never give up rights to them.. if i give up my rights to their photos, i can't use them in my portfolio or anything like that..

Rob Barnes's picture

Chris - I take another approach to this whole thing. They hire me to do a job, I perform said job, I deliver the product they wanted, they can do what ever they want to said product. Why does every photographer seem to think that when they are hired to do a job that they dont sign over the photos to the person? What confuses me is that I am doing work I am paid for, how does that make these photos mine? Because I took the photo? If this were something that I did on my own and licensed it for use or someone stole it, sure, ill get in touch and do something about it. If thats not the case, its their photo that they commissioned me for and they get to keep. Also, who says you cant use them if you build it into the contract? I state in mine specifically that I can use whatever photo I want. A good photographer gets in touch with people and asks if they want their face plastered on someones website/fb page/printed material. This whole thread has been a real eye opener...

Chris Burke's picture

I guess we all have our opinions... If its a wedding for example.. Ppl saw you at the wedding... If the client takes ll your photos, and puts them through instagram filters, guess what, you're not getting any clients from that wedding.. Because ppl aren't going to your site after the wedding.. They are going to B&G's Facebook.. And if all e photos look like hack job insta wannabes.. People will assume thats how YOU edited them.. Not that the bride decided to add her flare to them.. And I understand "hers a link to the original"... But gess what, many ppl dont read comments, they just scan through pic after pic... And they are going to think.. "Wow, I could have shot this with my iPhone for half of what he charged"...

So go ahead... Let them edited your photos... I'll keep my "would you let people edit the Mona Lisa" as my example... Because the reality is, no.. You wouldn't... And divinci puddles have been pissed if someone had made changes to her... And I get upset when ppl edit my photos..l if you didn't want my artistic eye and point of view, why did you hire me for your event???

FloBorg's picture

well, by law, the pictures copyright are the photographer's. Not the client. That's one reason. And the main reason is that it is bad advertisement for you. Unless your client edit your pic in a better version than you did (which is hopefully not the case).

Pascual Cora Jr.'s picture

Im in agreement with @Robbyb20:disqus . The way I look at it is, somebody entrusted me with being part or a very important/special occasion, not only that but also making sure that y captured the memory. This is their life I'm photographing... why would I not give them their photos? If a client wants the raw file they can have them provided they pay for the storage medium.

This reminds me of the big photo studios, they sell you a package and thats all you get. you have to pay extra for the Hi res Jpegs...... I say no have it all its you photos and you payed for them already. I charge for the work I do not for how many prints the person wants......

Alexandra Giamanco's picture

"If a client wants the raw file they can have them provided they pay for the storage medium."

Sounds to me that you don't know or want to learn to process your own photos. You NEVER/EVER give a client the RAW files! How is the client going to KNOW how to process that 50mb file? You can't upload a RAW file into your phone to add Instagram filters to it! OMG! That is scamming a customer, how do you know they have Photoshop? or other professional software to process those photos!? The client is NOT the professional YOU ARE!(or are supposed to be).

Giving them the RAW files is like going to a restaurant and the chef hands you over the ingredients to cook your own meal! No wonder nobody is taking us seriously anymore! Or better, like in film days, instead of developing their photos, you just give them the undeveloped film! So insulting to that client.

Please for the sake of the business you want to part of educate yourself.

Plenty of resources to study and learn the job you want to have!

Pascual Cora Jr.'s picture

Wow Good morning, nothing better than waking up to a bunch of condescending comments on the Internet. FYI before you keep making a fool out of yourself, do know that my main line of work is not photography. I am a IT professional working for a global company, because of my travels I got into landscape photography. My job pays me quite well and my side business (Data recovery) Allows me to afford purchasing the photography equipment I own. I have done a few payed gig here and there but I do not call my self a professional photog.

That said 11 years ago I established a relationship with the photographer who shoot my wedding. Part of the value she provides is that she allows people to have the digital files to do as they please. Ever since then I have entrusted her with shooting many more events and she has received a lot of referrals and recommendations from me. She was hired cause of my "word of mouth" to do my sister's in law wedding, she was also hired to do all three of my kids baptism pictures and portraits. Just from me she has gained a lot of business and a recurring customer for life. So i don't see how her or my way of dealing with digital copyright is wrong.

You jumped to conclusions and I'm here to tell you that you are wrong. She develops and delivers a finished product and on top of that she allows you to have you memories on a CD. Whats so freaking wrong about that?

Your condescending attitude is why in the past I hated dealing with photographers, Your "this is my work my photographs my masterpiece" way of looking at things is why your kind is a dying breed. It is why I give my money to the photographer that is more concern about its customer happiness instead of her ego.

FYI technology has advance in the past few years, when I give raw files to people in a CD I include the Nikon Raw codec installation file and a Read-Me file that helps them install it. Also unless you have been living under a rock you would know that and up to date OSX install has built in support for RAW files and that preview allow people to save that raw to JPEG. Same can be said about Picasa and iPhoto. Goes to show you how well educated you are.

Since we are in the mood of linking and suggesting reading material then I invite you to read some of the things Trey Ratcliff has written about the subject. He is running a very successful business so I guess he is doing something right.......

He also has ways of making sure he does not get ripped off by companies who do not license his work...


Get off you high horse Mr. Know it all. Others are making a decent living while delivering a quality product.

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