“There is an apocryphal story that one day the Pope came to visit Michelangelo in his studio while he as sculpting his “David”. The Pope marveled at the partially completed work, and asked, “How do you know what to cut away?” Michelangelo’s response was, “It’s simple. I just remove everything that doesn’t look like David.”
When looking at a new raw file of my own the first thing I ask myself is that question – What is this image about, and what do I want it to say about the subject? Only when I have a satisfactory answer to this can I proceed to crop and otherwise interpret the image. When this is in hand I then find it easy to arrive at a cropping, because as with Michelangelo’s David, I simply remove everything that isn’t relevant to my conceptualization.
My feeling is that cropping isn’t something that we do to an image. It does it itself – demanding to be constrained in certain ways. Sometimes there’s more than one way, but it eventually becomes obvious what the photograph itself wants. This isn’t metaphor. The best photographs demand to be a certain shape. The rest make no such requests, and that’s what separates the winners from the also-rans.”
– Alain Briot (editor, Luminous landscape)