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Here is an approach that I have from time to time found useful and it's sort of an alternative to working with vector masks. It's working with clipping groups. Vector masks are involved as well. The vector mask comes along with the shape layer, and then we clip the image to that shape layer. Now the advantage of this potentially is that it gives you the chance to map out how you want to create a grid of pictures, like I have here. And if I turn off all of the image layers, you can see that I'm using this technique just to rough out the way my grid is going to look and I have applied a different shade of gray to each of these grid squares, or grid rectangles rather, and then I place the image and one by one I position the image above the relevant rectangle, and it's going to start out looking like that.
And then I know that I wanted to fill this predefined area of space. So to make that happen, making sure that the picture is above the rectangle, I will create a clipping mask, and I can either do that by right-clicking on the layer, Create Clipping Mask, going to the Layers panel menu > Create Clipping Mask, or the way I most often do it, hold down the Option or Alt key, and click on the line that separates those two layers, and then that image is going to be clipped to the shape beneath. So is this a better way? I don't know.
It works, it works just as well. And then if I want to adjust that cropping, I can drag the picture around and we see that it's only going to be visible where we have the rectangle defined by the shape layer beneath, to which it is clipped.
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