Have you ever wondered why, when you print a picture (in this case an 8x10) you lose some of the details on the edges?
It all comes down to the size of the sensor in your camera.
The sensors in my digital cameras have a 2:3 ratio. This means that a 4x6 and an 8x12 print will not have any cropping simply because both sizes are also a 2:3 ratio.
An 8x10 inch print, on the other hand will lose an inch on either side. For this reason, I'm not really a big fan of the 8x10 print.
Below is a portrait from Jenna and Andrew's QuonQuont Farm wedding. We took this picture out in the apple orchard and I purposely left some room on either side of them to show off the environment we were in. This is the uncropped version.
Here is the same picture with an 8x10 crop applied. You'll notice that the picture is essentially "shorter", because it is. We have lost some real estate on either side of them due to the fact that the ratio has changed. In this picture it works though because Jenna and Andrew had plenty of room around them to crop in.
What happens when we have subjects or details that we don't want to lose at the edge of the frame though?
Here is a basic picture of their rustic seating chart without any cropping. To the left were some dirty napkins and to the right were some stains in the tablecloth. I decided to shoot tight to eliminate the mess and get a cleaner picture.
And here is the same picture with an 8x10 crop applied. It doesn't really work here as the frame is cut off.
I know it is unlikely that you will be printing an 8x10 of this, but the same concept applies to pictures with people in them.
The obvious question though.... "Why don't you take every picture with enough space around the subject so that in the event of a crop....".
In a perfect world, this would be the answer but I often work in very tight spaces where that isn't an option. As I mentioned above, sometimes I have to photograph "tight" in order to eliminate distractions as I did here.
My advice? If you are going to print a portrait (and I hope you do print your pictures!), print the 8x12 instead of the 8x10. You will be glad you did!