How Photographers Narrow Down Photographs

Have you had a photo shoot or worked with a photographer before and realized just how snap-happy they can be? Maybe they switched memory cards once, twice, or more, but by the time they show you what they took, they only show you a fraction of what you know they did.
Well every photographer has a different selection process, so let me tell you how I help clients select the images I show…

Step One: I dump all the images into a single file on one of my computers and open them up in Adobe Bridge.

(For this example, please enjoy a silly shoot of my dog)

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Step Two: I scroll through every image from the shoot. If it’s got a decent composition, no obvious deficiencies, and is focused correctly, I give it 3 Stars. Then sort so only 3+ Star images show.

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Step Three: I take a coffee break. Staring at a computer screen increases eye strain. Taking a small break also allows my mind to reset itself a little when I go in for the next step so I can try to be as unbiased as possible. Sometimes artists of any genre get too close and excited by a project to realize that they’re the only one who thinks it looks good.

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Step Four: I look through all the 3-Star images and get a little pickier. I know these are all in focus, so I don’t check for that. I’m looking for composition this time. If two images are extremely similar, I’ll flip between them and choose the best of the two. If they’re literally identical, I’ll just pick one. I make sure that nobody blinked or sneezed or has a weird pose, check that no trees or poles are sticking out of someone’s head. I rate all these 4-Star.

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By this time, there are only a fraction of the images left.

Step Five: I open all of these images at once (depending on the shoot, sometimes we get lucky and everything seems wonderful so there are a lot) and do some quick edits. Just making sure the light looks good, maybe touching the brightness, curves, or contrast – something like that.

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These are the images I usually present to a client! Sometimes it’s over email, but my favorite method is to print them out on a regular sheet of paper and meet in person for a coffee and to discuss which images they want and what they want them on (paper, metal, digital, etc).

At the end of the day, we all have a good time! I’m happy, the client is happy, and that’s what matters!

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