Wednesday, May 31, 2023


Phone Photography Tip #4: Cropping with your feet

By Mike Gast
Welcome back to “Getting The Most From Your Smartphone Photos.” Each week, we’ll take a look at an easy-to-use tip that will take your “unshareable” cell phone pictures and turn them into photos you’d be proud to hang on the wall of your RV. This week, the topic is how to “crop” your photos before you take them.

Tip #4: Cropping photos with your feet

This week’s tip is pretty basic, but it’s one that can have a lot of impact on the quality of your photos.

“Cropping with your feet” is a cute way of saying “get as close as you can to your subject.” Walk right up to whatever you’re shooting and fill the entire frame of your phone/camera screen with your subject. We’ve all taken that photo of a smiling kid with an ice cream cone. Trouble is, we usually are standing 20 feet away and there, on the left side of the frame, is Uncle Ernie chugging a beer.

You can take that shot, and then crop Ernie out of the frame later. But you’ll be degrading the end result for no good reason.

How do you crop your photo “in-camera”

Try to crop your photo “in-camera” by composing your image exactly how you want your final crop to look, rather than shooting a “loose” scene and cropping it later.

Take a look at the photos below. The one on the left was taken about 20 feet away from the tree. But what I really wanted to shoot is the hanging fruit (in the red box). I could have later cropped the fruit-only photo from the original shot, but instead I “cropped with my feet” by getting as close as I could to my real target.

Here’s why this is important:

  1. Images cropped in-camera look totally different than images cropped later. Filling the frame with your actual subject means you might also get a great background blur called bokeh, which removes any background distractions and focuses all of the attention on your subject. (We’ll talk more about bokeh and background blur in a later tip.)
  2. By cropping in-camera, you will retain the full digital size of the file. If you take an 8-megabyte-sized photo and crop it down, you might be left with less than a megabyte. That leads to fuzzy photos and leaves you little to no ability to enlarge it if you want to print it.

So, there you go. Get out there and GET CLOSER (except if you’re on the rim of the Grand Canyon).

LAST WEEK’S TIP: Get familiar with the “Rule of Thirds”
Why zooming in is such a bad idea

Mike Gast was the Vice President of Communications for Kampgrounds of America, Inc. for the past 20 years. Now, he’s the News Editor for His series of cell phone photo tips come from a lot of trial and error after 50 years of taking good (and also very bad) photos.


Mike Gast
Mike Gast
Mike Gast was the vice president of Communications for Kampgrounds of America Inc. for 20 years before retiring in 2021. He also enjoyed a long newspaper career, working as a writer and editor at newspapers in North Dakota, South Dakota, Oregon, and Montana. He and his wife, Lori Lyon, now own and operate the Imi Ola Group marketing company, focusing on the outdoor industry.


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2 years ago

great tip!

David Telenko
2 years ago

Thanks Mike, most of the time I use my telephoto lens & zoom in. But if I can physically get closer I will, I like filming nature & sometimes they move if they see you moving!
Thanks for the great tip!

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