We’ve heard it many times: you can’t get started on your book because you’re paralyzed by the overwhelming task of sorting through the number of photos you took.
Editing photos – the process of narrowing down your collection to a usable amount – is hard, being choosy is hard, but knowing how to manage your photos is the best way to ensure your book will show your best.
Here are some tips from Ali Carras, an incredible lifestyle kids photographer in the Bay Area.
Rule number one: Steel yourself to be selective, be choosy, be cut throat!
Start by eliminating any photos that:
- are out of focus
- have weird stuff in the background that you can’t crop or edit out
- have something important cut off
- don’t elicit some kind of emotional response
What makes the editing process especially difficult is that the nature of today’s digital photography world allows us to take more photos than ever and for most people this means usually just adding those images to an ever growing digital pile on your computer. But what happens in 10 or 20 years? If you haven’t made it a habit to always to narrow down the good photos and filter out the junk then you’ll end up swimming in a mess of photos instead of enjoying the best memories.
Rule number two: Find a process or a workflow tool to help you view, organize and flag your photos. I use Lightroom since it’s well suited for high volume shoots, but you can still get the job done by manually moving photos around and using a basic photo browser.
After uploading the photos to my computer I give them a quick first pass and select my favorites. I like to do this right after the shoot while everything is still fresh. The first round picks get marked with a star or a flag and I don’t let myself get distracted by color correcting or fine tuning…no time for that! Remember, this is just a quick initial “pick.” If it’s a particularly large group of photos I might do another quick round through the photos that I already picked in case I have a change of heart.
Rule number three: Be choosy all over again. After one or two quick selection rounds it’s time to get choosy. Like really choosy. The easiest thing to do is to pull up the set of images that are somewhat similar to one another and start comparing them side by side. One will usually be a clear winner, but if I can’t decide I’ll zoom in to see if one is sharper than the other. If that doesn’t work I’ll get a second opinion from someone else or just take a break for a few minutes while I refresh my perspective.
The best photo is not always the one with the cutest face! Look for one that is really capturing the feeling of that moment.
Some good advice: Don’t get emotionally attached. I totally understand and can relate to the difficulties in being super choosy when you are trying to tell a story through your images. But even documentary style photography requires editing down to quality, not quantity. I am a big fan of the one photo per page minimalist books with maybe a diptych or triptych design here and there so if you focus on making your book as simple and clean as possible you only need the best.
You can do it!