Choosing images for your medical website can be a time-consuming task. Sometimes you run across the an image that is perfect except for one little thing. Often, you can resolve that “little thing” with the simple act of cropping the image.
Reasons to Crop
You can crop your image to improve its composition or get rid of distractions in the background. If you are using photos from Flickr Creative Commons, this will probably be very important. Professional stock photos are staged and composed from the get go. But photos from Flickr aren’t necessarily snapped with your particular use in mind, so cropping can be really handy.
It can also change the feeling of the image. Notice how this original communicates a feeling of solitude, or even loneliness:
But a little cropping of the image changes it from lonely to cozy:
Sometimes you just want to focus on a certain aspect of the photo, because it fits your content so perfectly. Cropping allows you to do that.
Occasionally you need to change the orientation of the photo. A landscape (horizontal) layout may need to be changed to a portrait (vertical) layout. Or you might need a certain ratio of height to width. Cropping can help you do that.
Tools for Cropping
You don’t have to be a Photoshop expert to crop your photos. There are several options for editing photos that are simple, intuitive and free to use.
Picmonkey. This is my favorite tool. It’s a simple, online photo editor that doesn’t require you to download any software. You can also do some basic graphics by adding overlays and text. It’s free to use, which I think we can all agree is a great thing.
Canva. Like Picmonkey, Canva is an online editor. But it’s geared more toward graphics than images alone. I don’t use it often, but it appears to offer plenty of options for creating interesting graphics. They’ve got preset sizes that work for just about any social media use. And as a bonus, they offer lots of free images for you to use.
WordPress. If you want to keep it really simple, you can crop your photo right in WordPress. Be sure to crop it before you insert it into a page or post. Otherwise you might need to regenerate the image to have it show up properly on the page.
Hints Before You Start
Remember to work with a copy of your image. Nothing is worse than making a mistake on your original that you can’t undo.
Also, start with a high resolution original. As you crop away pieces of your image, what remains will need to be stretched to fill its allotted space. If you start with a low resolution, you may end up with a pixelated image in the end.
So when you add a new image to your website, take a quick look and see if cropping can transform it from a good photo to the just right photo.
Photo credit: Paul Itkin via Unsplash