I started noticing more tightly cropped headshots in both print and online publications about a year ago and now they are everywhere. These photos are so tightly cropped that part of the head is gone — usually some portion of the hair, but sometimes an ear or the mouth. In modeling/acting circles, it is called a “Hollywood Crop.”

At first I found this incredibly annoying. We have always teased my grandmother about chopping off heads in practically every photo she’s taken. To me, these tight crops looked like bad photography. It also seemed to be extremely popular with balding men who, it seemed to me, were trying to hide their hair loss. (Except for Seth Godin, who cropped his photo to nothing but his eyes and big bald head.)

I’m still annoyed by most of these cropped headshots, especially when the rest of the photo is not well cropped, but I’m starting to come around. I’m working with one of my favorite clients, the Center for Ecological Technology, on their annual report. I asked Susan Slattery, their director of marketing and development and a professional photographer, about this kind of cropping as we reviewed which photos to use. Here is what she said:

“It has long been said that the full head shot is one of the dullest photos to be taken. There is nothing visually stunning about it. Cropping makes shots much more dynamic. The eye fills in the missing pieces, and the cropping makes other things pop. Cropping pulls the viewer in . . .”

I can definitely see what Susan means. By losing the top of the head, for example, you bring the subject’s eyes up into the top of the photo and make them more prominent. Cropping from the side also creates drama, as my friend Rebecca Jamison and her cover designer did for her book on Grayson Hall. And why wouldn’t big forehead-ed people like moi want to trim that noggin, I hear cropping fanatics asking?

So what do you think? Here is the headshot I’ve been using lately, cropped in several different ways. Vote for your favorite and I’ll start using it as my avatar for MyBlogLog, etc. And be sure to share your opinions on “Hollywood Cropping” in general by leaving a comment.



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