Cutting off top of head in portraits

jowensphoto

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At my very first photography job with a well known retail photography company, I was taught that cutting off the top of the head is okay, so long as you don't cut off the bottom/chin. The reasoning for this was if you cut off a chin, you change the way a person looks. If you cut the top of the head off, it becomes a close up face shot instead of a traditional headshot.

I know this is something that everyone has a different opinion about, but I like it. Even more when the photo is done horizontally.

How do you feel about this and why?
 

Derrel

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At my very first photography job with a well known retail photography company, I was taught that cutting off the top of the head is okay, so long as you don't cut off the bottom/chin. The reasoning for this was if you cut off a chin, you change the way a person looks. If you cut the top of the head off, it becomes a close up face shot instead of a traditional headshot.

I know this is something that everyone has a different opinion about, but I like it. Even more when the photo is done horizontally.

How do you feel about this and why?

Uh, sorry but no to this: "I like it. Even more when the photo is done horizontally."

This ain't the cinema, or CinemaScope...a horizontally-framed top-of-the-head amputation is the height of compositional noobishness.
 

paigew

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At my very first photography job with a well known retail photography company, I was taught that cutting off the top of the head is okay, so long as you don't cut off the bottom/chin. The reasoning for this was if you cut off a chin, you change the way a person looks. If you cut the top of the head off, it becomes a close up face shot instead of a traditional headshot.

I know this is something that everyone has a different opinion about, but I like it. Even more when the photo is done horizontally.

How do you feel about this and why?

Uh, sorry but no to this: "I like it. Even more when the photo is done horizontally."

This ain't the cinema, or CinemaScope...a horizontally-framed top-of-the-head amputation is the height of compositional noobishness.

I like it too...I'm a noob...maybe thats why :lol:. I like when the FACE fills the frame (in photos of kids/babies), really up close.


example (first one I saw on google "up close baby photos")
 

DiskoJoe

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It works sometime. Sometimes it doesnt. But I wouldnt say to not do it.
 

Big Mike

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I like it too...I'm a noob...maybe thats why . I like when the FACE fills the frame (in photos of kids/babies), really up close.
Yes, but the face doesn't fill the frame if you're shooting in horizontal orientation...that's Derrel's point. Most faces are taller than they are wide. So if you're shooting a face/head in horizontal, you're probably leaving area on the side(s) and not 'filling the frame'.
 

analog.universe

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Derrel and I have long disagreed on horizontal portraits... :)

I think it works a lot of time, even with the tops of heads cut off, makes the photo feel more intimate. It's probably not "classic", and they probably didn't teach it in photography school decades ago, but whatever. If you like it then you like it, and if someone connects to it, it's a successful photo. Often the perfectly framed portrait orientation portrait just feels empty and detached....
 

Tight Knot

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I feel it depends on the photo. This is one that I happen to like and think it works here.
90.jpg
 

Big Mike

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By the way, cutting off parts of things (top of head or something else) brings up the subject of implied completion or implied shapes (I forget what the proper term is). It works when the viewer can easily 'fill in' the missing area in their mind, because it's easily predictable. People know that the top of someone's head is round(ish), so if it's cut off in a photo, it's not too disconcerting because the viewer's brain just 'connects the dots'.

But, if you cut off something that isn't as predictable as the top of a head, then the image feels incomplete...making for bad composition and a weak image.

So yes, it can work but you really need to consider the subject matter. In most cases yes, I'd say that including the chin is much more important than the top of the head.
 

kundalini

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I don't have a problem if the top of the head is cut off much for the reasons that Big Mike stated, the brain connects the dots. But if you cut off the chin you are taking away an intregal part of the mask and it does look amputated. Sometimes a horizontal orientation is okay, but I think a square crop would be better and seldom does either have the same impact as a vertical.


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(narcisissm at its worst) :biggrin:
.
 
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jowensphoto

jowensphoto

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I knew there'd be many different opinions on this, that's why I asked. Thanks for all the input :)

Someone mentioned that it feels more intimate; I agree! When you kiss someone or have your face very close to theirs, you don't typically see the top of their head. Really, you're only focusing from the eyes down at that close of range.

kundalini- thanks for the examples, exactly what i was talking about
 

Bitter Jeweler

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While I more often than not, agree with Derrel on this subject, I do think it has a time and place. It can work well, in my opinion.


4317559501_4c3db74a32.jpg
 

Joey_Ricard

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If you are not sure what you want to do when shooting at the time, shoot with room to crop as you want later. This way you have the choices after the fact.
And it's all subjective to the person viewing or purchasing.
 

Bitter Jeweler

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When you kiss someone or have your face very close to theirs, you don't typically see the top of their head. Really, you're only focusing from the eyes down at that close of range.

Closeface!

 
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