Tips for Using Lightroom's Crop Tool | Pretty Presets for Lightroom Tutorial

Where is the Crop Tool Located?

Tips for Using Lightroom's Crop Tool | Pretty Presets for Lightroom Tutorial

The Crop Tool is located on the right-side of the Develop Module in the same panel as the Adjustment Brush and Radial and Graduated Filters.  You can click on the grid-looking tool or tap the "R" key to choose the crop tool.

Cropping Your Photo

Cropping your photo is easy.  Once you have chosen the Crop Tool, a grid-like overlay will appear over your photo.  You can click and drag on the corners of the grid to adjust the crop or you can click and drag the photo and position what you want to see inside the grid.

If you want to drag a crop box much like the old way that Photoshop used to do this, you can click on the right-angle icon next to the word Aspect, and then click and drag a crop box on your photo.

The Lock Icon

Keep your lock icon locked unless you are looking to create a really custom size/shape for your photo.  You can lock and unlock by just clicking on the Lock icon.

What About Cropping Ratios?

Tips for Using Lightroom's Crop Tool | Pretty Presets for Lightroom Tutorial


Lightroom gives you several options for cropping ratios when cropping.

This is probably where most people get confused with the Cropping Tool in Lightroom.  What they don't understand is that most cameras shoot in a 2x3 ratio which is the same ratio as a 4x6, 8x12, 12x18, 16x24, etc.  Yet, most people know sizes more in the 4x5 ratio—8x10, 11x14, 16x20, etc.  These are the same sizes as standard frames that you buy in the store.

When you export a file at the original ratio that you shot in camera, it will need to be cropped by your printer to to fit the ratio of an 8x10.  This is fine.  You just need to be aware that it will happen and you need to make sure you have left room in the photo that it can be cropped that way.

I always crop and export my files in the original ratio that my camera captured them.  This is the way that I saw the photo originally.  When possible, I recommend sizes to my clients that fit that aspect ratio. However, many clients will ask for specific sizes to fit their frames.  This is okay, too.  I just explain that there will be some cropping to the photo to fit that ratio.

Most professional photo printers use the ROES system or another similar system that allows you to upload the photo and adjust the crop of the photo so that you like what you see.  Hopefully you have left enough room around your subject to allow for most any crop your client would want.

If your clients are doing the printing, they will be clueless about this and wonder why their photo didn't come out the way they saw it originally.  You need to be educated about this process so that you can educate them.

Straightening a Photo

Lightroom's Crop Tool has a really fun feature that allows you to adjust the angle of the crop.  This is super helpful when you have a strong line, such as a horizon, in your photo and you want to line up your crop to that line in your photo.  

The easiest way to do this is to click on the ruler icon and then click and drag a line over the strong line in your photo.  Lightroom will automatically crop your photo so that the line you created is perfectly straight.  You can also use the Angle sliders to achieve this same effect.

Special thanks to Allison, the creator of this video to help you see Lightroom's Crop Tool in action!