Hampstead School / Liane Harris / Visual Literacy activities

Activity: On The Edge

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Extreme cropping to encourage decision making about what to include and
leave out of the frame.

Materials needed:

  • PowerPoint
  • Black cards (or paper) with 6cm X 4cm rectangle cut out
  • Images to illustrate instructions (described below)
  • Small objects
  • Cameras


  • Make a set of frames with black card or paper as described above.
  • Gather together enough small objects so there is 1 per student
  • Prepare a set of instructions with an image to illustrate. This can be a small pamphlet, strips of paper to be taken one by one, or a sheet of A4.
  • Instruction examples:
  1. Prepare a short PPT showing images with extreme cropping
  2. Photograph your partner’s feet at the top of the frame
  3. Take a photo of your partner’s arms reaching into the frame
  4. Photograph a corner of a ceiling
  5. Crop your partner on the right side of the frame
  6. Photograph the top of your partner’s head at the bottom of the frame
  • Useful photographers for instructions and PowerPoint:

Rinko Kawauchi, Uta Barth, John Batho, William Eggleston


a) Each student gets a frame and an object.

They are asked to:

  • Cover one eye and hold the frame a short distance from their eyes
  • Place their object to the side of the frame, cropping it in half
  • Describe to their partner exactly what they see in the frame
  • If there are unwanted elements, they have to readjust so there is only their cropped object and nothing else in the frame.
  • This encourages looking and being aware of everything happening in the frame.

b) After a short discussion with a PowerPoint showing examples of extreme cropping (see suggested photographers above) students are paired up, given a set of instructions and go out shooting.

c) Students upload their images in pairs, creating an edit file to put their favourite photos into (selecting favourite shots can also be done on the back of the camera).

Feedback as a group brought up ideas such as:

  • Being as aware of the background as the subject
  • Are rules broken with extreme cropping?
  • If so, what are they?
  • Precise framing and cropping requires skill and patience

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