Basic Editing Skills /Selecting

Let’s talk a bit about post-processing your images today.
First things first - before you go all crazy editing your photos in Photoshop and spend heaps of time working on that you should decide which photos you want to edit first.

I’ll tell you how I go about selecting my images, but this really is different for everyone. As with pretty much anything - what works for one person doesn’t have to work for another.
You should try out different steps and see what works best for you. Please feel free to copy my selection process if you find that it works for you as well. Or simply use this as advice and see it as suggestions.
Pick whatever steps you like, and make the process work for you. :)

I use Adobe Bridge to go through my photos and to pick the ones I like best. It helps me to categorize my images, and to structure everything/create folders.
In Bridge I usually go through all the images, hold the ctrl-key (command for apple), and mark all the images that I want to take to the next stage.
Once I’ve marked them all I label them as approved.
So every time I want to go back to the folder I can see straight away which images I chose, and I can also view them in a separate folder if I want to.

Before you do that though, you have to know what sort of photos you’re looking for.
There are a few things that I look out for when deciding which images to choose.

1. Always include verticals as well as horizontals in your selection. You never know what you’ll use your pictures for in the future, so you should always have a variety of both portrait as well as landscape formats (i.e. for layout reasons).

2. Technical quality
- Are my pictures sharp? Unless I purposely want to emphasize blur for visual reasons, I always choose sharp images. That doesn’t mean the whole picture has to be sharp in every single corner. It just means sharpness where it’s needed. If it’s a portrait for example make sure the person’s eyes are sharp.
If people only get to see your sharp images they’ll be tricked into thinking you only take sharp (=good) pictures. So don’t destroy that illusion.
Also keep the following in mind:
- Exposure
- Colour balance
- ISO - how much noise is in the picture?
Of course you can play around in Photoshop later on and try to fix things, but it’s definitely easier to get it right straight away.
Especially sharpness - you can hardly fix that up.

3. What do I want to communicate?
Usually I take photos for a purpose. At least if they are of photojournalistic/documentary nature. There will always be something that I want to get across with my pictures - so I make sure I’ve captured that purpose in the images I finally choose.
That might be emotion, reactions, a symbolic meaning, an overview of an event/place, …

4. Personal preference
This can refer to anything I like, for any reason. Sometimes it’s a pop of colour in a picture that makes it look interesting, sometimes it’s the way the picture is framed, or the way it’s composed. Anything really that just feels right to me.

I believe that you have to be ruthless with yourself when making a selection. And I believe that you have to learn how to do that. Selecting is probably one of the hardest parts of editing.
If you can’t decide between two photos decide anyway. I know, that sounds stupid. But you really just have to decide. If you include two really similar photos in your selection it seems like you can’t make up your mind.
And being able to choose one photo over the other definitely shows skill, and strength (to decide).
Think of all the points I mentioned above, and take your own selection points into consideration as well.
In any case I would recommend to just choose the photo that best represents what you want to communicate.
And in case of doubt you can always ask the people around you. They’re usually the ones that do a better job at picking your best photos anyway.
But let’s talk about that some other time... ;)

P.S. Can you see how the points I mentioned above refer to the photos I chose for this post?
P.P.S. I decided I'd blog 3 times a week from now on - so Monday, Wednesday, Friday it shall be. Real life is busy, and I want to make sure I keep the quality up on here. :)

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  1. great post. SO helpful. thank you!!! It's funny because I do the process of selecting/editing photos so much that I didn't realize that there are more things i should be doing.

    1. Thanks for the comment! What exactly are the things that you haven't been doing so far?

  2. Great informative post. I'll keep this in mind.

  3. This is a great post! I don't une Bridge to go through my photos, rather I just look through them using the Windows Image Viewer. I delete the ones I don't like leaving behind the ones that catch my eye. Then I go to Photoshop and start to adjust the brightness, sharpness etc before deciding which ones will end up on my blog. The ones that don't make the cut are not deleted, as I always feel like maybe some day I might like them. So I upload them onto my Flickr account, as well as the 'good' photos to be used on my blog. As you mentioned, the hardest part is selecting and editing your photos.

  4. Thank you for commenting!
    When you first go through your photos, which are the ones you delete straight away? Just the really bad ones? As you said, you never know when you might want to use a photo again.
    I've also been wondering if it takes up a lot of your time if you adjust the brightness etc. for every single photo?

  5. Yes, I delete the really bad ones, or the ones I don't 'feel' anything for. It actually doesn't take me a lot of time, as I don't adjust for all the photos.Like I said, by the time I am ready to edit a photo, I have narrowed down my selection to lets say 30 photos at most. I usually don't edit all my photos, only the ones I intend to publish on my blog. For the rest I just might do a light cropping if needed and leave it raw in my Flickr account for future usage. Plus for some photos that are a bit similar in the way they were taken (same lightning conditions) I can ease my work by using a Photoshop Action that I have already premade and where I only need to make minor adjustments.