I've heard several arguments in the past against cropping images. But in my opinion cropping is OK. Here's why.
The ultimate goal when capturing a scene with a shutter click and working in post after the fact should be to create the strongest final image possible. Whether the goal is to tell a compelling story through the visual or simply to create a beautiful photograph of a nature scene, all photographers are usually striving for the strongest and most visually appealing image possible.
While I was in college I took a few fine art photography classes although I had already been taking and creating images for years before. So, I was surprised to hear how strongly against cropping one of my professors was. She stressed the fact that we should always do our best to capture the scene how we were hoping to print it when looking through the viewfinder. She taught this almost religiously.
But in my opinion, as long as the content is not photojournalistic or essentially crossing into an ethical dilemma, cropping is OK, and should even be encouraged. I do think that as photographers we should always do our best to get our settings and composition correct in camera, but sometimes in the heat of the moment this doesn't work out. Sometimes a scene happens too quickly and you might not have time to put on the proper lens or stand in the right place. And sometimes when revisiting our images while post-processing, we see the scene differently and wish to crop an image to create a better final end result. In my opinion, cropping should be taught as another tool in a photographer's arsenal to create compelling imagery. Below are a few before and after photos to show how cropping can strengthen compositions and put more focus on the subject. The "before" is straight out of the camera while the "after" is edited and cropped ... what are your thoughts on cropping? Do you avoid it like the plague or do it all the time?
How do you feel about cropping? Leave your best examples in the comments below.