..what’s wrong with this picture…


The other day I was staring at the computer screen thinking about the thousands of images I was about to go through in my process of creating a photo book when I decided to take a break. Not wanting to look at another screen (the tv), I chose instead to do a little housework and eliminate some old papers…

After filling a couple of bags with shredded paper, I noticed how this process reminded me of the similarity between this and a photographer’s exercise of eliminating images – unusable, unwanted, and/or unnecessary.

There are plenty of blogs out there with tips to help you do this; here’s my own version of the process.

IN CAMERA: while taking a break or waiting in an airport (or shredding old paper) this is a good time to go through the camera and remove those images that look obviously bad – not focused, poor exposure. You know, the yucky ones you wondered why you took in the first place.

DOWNLOADING: just about all computers have software that allows you to preview the images before you actually download them, so why keep crap? Here is a chance to further eliminate the images you now can see a little better on the bigger screen instead of the small one on the back of your camera..

THE FIRST PASS: here it gets a little tougher, but now that you’ve already eliminated about 10% of your shots, it boils down to taking a closer look at what you’re thinking about keeping. I usually ask myself at least this one question: “do I really want 25 images of that sunset?” If you sometimes have a finger that “sticks” on the shutter release when shooting, you’ll probably eliminate another 1/3rd of the images you have during this step.

THE SECOND PASS: now you have to ask yourself this question: “what am I going to do with this image? Sell it? Post it? Send it to my niece in Toledo?” Don’t kid yourself. If you don’t have an answer to any of these questions, dump it. Just remember, Photoshop never made a bad picture look good!

THE FINAL PASS: now you can focus on any further editing (if you didn’t do this during your second pass) on the images that you have left. This is where only your best work are the images left in the portfolio/project. These are the works that you intend to share with the public (and the public doesn’t give a crap about you standing in front of the Hoover Dam, no matter how brilliant the sunset behind the mountain is), so it better be your best. And since you’re now down to maybe 50 or so images (you started out with 900), you will save computer space and time.

Because the worst is going back later and asking yourself, “why did I keep this again?”

And, like shredding papers around your house that you don’t need, you won’t wind up burning yourself out trying to do all of this at once on a day when you’d probably rather be outside shooting more images…

Until next time!

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