A common mistake a lot of photographers make is that they over-crop their shots. They are “cropaholics,” in which they crop almost every single photograph.
I was a “cropaholic.” When I shot in the landscape, I would be sloppy. I disregarded framing, as I told myself, “hey if I don’t get the shot right, I can always crop it later.”
However when I learnt this lesson from Henri Cartier-Bresson (the master street photographer on composition), I decided to give it a try. At first, it was difficult not to crop my shots. But when I gave myself the “creative constraint” of not cropping, it forced me to improve my framing in-camera.
Over the course of a year, I discovered that my framing and composition got much better. I worked harder to get the shots right in-camera, and this caused my photography to improve drastically.
Now I am not saying that you should never crop your photographs. There are a lot of master landscape photographers who occasionally crop. But if you are trying to improve your composition and intuitive sense of framing, give yourself the assignment of going an entire year without cropping. I can guarantee you that a year later, your photography will improve dramatically.
A practical tip for framing better without cropping, look at the edges of the frame while you’re shooting. Avoid suffering from “tunnel-vision” (only looking in the centre of the frame).