So, you see a great image just waiting to happen – and of course, you shoot away, maybe taking 10 or 20 photos to try to capture that perfect moment. How do you choose the best from dozens of duplicate shots of that same scene? Sometimes it’s obvious, and the image just leaps out at you. For those times when it’s not, you can look at your photos with the Golden Mean in mind. You can also follow these great tips from the pros to help you see the difference between shots that don’t quite work and the one composition that’s just right.
First, a quick reminder about obvious no-nos in your images:
• Unintended fuzziness: Parts of your image are sharply in focus, others not so much – and you didn’t mean it.
• Objects “growing” out of people’s heads, chests, arms: This is often related to the next point about clutter.
• Distracting clutter: Are there objects, colors or textures that distract from your main element?
• Competing points of interest: Think back to the Golden Mean – are there elements that fight with each other for attention?
• Crooked lines: Anything that can’t be easily straightened without losing important parts of the picture.
• Uncomely facial expressions: A good reason to avoid shots of people eating…
• Elements creeping in from the edges of the frame: For instance, when you catch just part of a person stepping in front of the camera.
Now, let’s get started editing your photos to that one perfect shot.
First, identify your series – how many images do you have that are similar enough so that you need to choose the best and leave the rest?
Take a look through all the photos in your series with an eye to the no-nos listed above, and remove the ones that don’t pass the test.
Once you’ve eliminated images with obvious photographic taboos, assemble what’s left, compare them, and select the ones that really stand out.
Now it’s time to think about each of these remaining photos from the perspective of your viewer – a person who’s never before seen the scenario you captured on film. What’s the story you want to tell them? The details you choose not to “tell” in your image can be just as important as those you decide to leave in.
For a great visual walkthrough of the photo-editing process, check out Jeffrey Kontur’s terrific tutorial – then start practicing how to narrow down groups of your own photos to the single best one. Not only will this help you build a portfolio of your finest shots, it’s also a great first step as you consider what images to put in your book.