Basically, there's three ways to crop your photos: In the camera, in post, or a combination of both. (D'uh, right?) Like most photographers, I prefer the latter. More specifically, I try to capture a close-to-finished crop in camera and then I fine-tune that crop in post.
As a rule, I avoid relying solely on post-production cropping. Doing so has a lot to do with maximizing my camera's resolution abilities. If I didn't care about maximizing resolution, I'd simply shoot my models in full-body shots (or even more loosely framed) and then, in post, crop to taste.
For me, cropping mostly conforms to the 80/20 rule: About 80% of my crop happens in camera, 20% in post. That's probably true for many shooters, perhaps most?
To cover my ass, crop-wise, I often shoot the same pose using two or three different in-camera crops. I might shoot a full body shot, move/zoom in for the same shot but with a 3/4 crop, then I might move or zoom even closer for a 1/2 to 1/3 body shot. I don't always shoot all of those shots, of course. Most often, I shoot the 3/4 crop and then the 1/2 or 1/3 crop. Sometimes, I might also shoot a headshot as a 3rd or 4th choice. (None of what I just wrote is necessarily in any sort of order of doing things.) By doing this, I give myself more choices in post while taking better advantage of my camera's resolution because, whatever additional cropping I perform in post will, for the most part, retain 80% (or more) of the out-of-the-camera image I captured.
I've mentioned before, here on the blog, that most of the model photography I shoot ends up being processed by others, usually retouchers and/or graphic designers. Since those people are, in addition to those who write me checks, people I need to satisfy with my work, I've found that giving them more choices while still retaining the best resolution quality I can capture, is a good idea. (That doesn't mean I always shoot RAW. More than a few of my clients have me shooting large, fine, jpegs. Also, none of this means I increase the total number of images I capture by a factor of 2, 3, or 4. What it means is I've learned to be more selective and discriminating regarding the poses and angles that I do shoot.
Sometimes, too many choices, from the perspective of editing, is not a good thing.
The pretty girl at the top is Tera Patrick, captured last year in her home in Los Angeles. (Click to enlarge.) Just a reminder: If you haven't taken advantage of it already, there's still a few weeks left in June to purchase either or both of my ebooks for 25% off using the special discount code, JUNESPECIAL, when ordering. Just click on the links to my ebooks in the right-hand column and use the code when making the purchase. Your discount will be automatically applied to your final purchase price.