Why do some photographers crop off the top of the subject’s head? Good question. It's a subjective decision, so there's not necessarily a 'right' answer. But here are a few reasons why I believe it makes sense.
A tightly cropped headshot makes better use of limited space. Think about how little space there is for an image on your LinkedIn profile, your website bio, or your business card. If you're including a headshot, your goal is to put your face out there — not your hairstyle. A tighter crop maximizes the impact of a small image by keeping the focus where it belongs.
A tight crop is a nod to a modern headshot look. I believe the days of the stodgy vertical boardroom shots are numbered. An image with contemporary cropping and composition will feel fresher and more compelling.
Perhaps you’re a little thin on hair up top. A tight crop is a great way to keep the attention on your other attributes, like your eyes and mouth. Those are the features that convey personality and warmth, which are crucial for a great headshot.
When you first notice that your photographer has taken a slice out of your head, it might seem a little odd. But the decision to crop your shot is deliberate and beneficial. When viewing an image of a person, our brains fill in the missing piece without missing a beat.
Try It At Home
Thinking of cropping your own images? Great! Play with the cropping on your next selfie and notice the impact. One tip: it’s all or nothing. Crop like you mean it! A very small slice off the top will look like awkward and sloppy. You have to own it. Happy cropping!