Photography Tip: #1 Only Show Your Best Work

Photography is one of my passions and hobbies. This post is the start of a running series of tips and tricks on photography that I have learned over the years to improve my work. I am by no means a professional, but hopefully these quick tips will help you take and share better photos. If you have a specific topic you would like me to cover or have a question leave a comment below. You can always view my albums on SmugMug

Be Ruthless with Selection

My first tip is the one that I think has helped me more than anything else in the last 10 years. Only show your best photos and be absolutely ruthless when evaluating the quality of the photos you have taken.

Here is a secret, I take a lot of bad phots! Yup, they are out of focus, under exposed, over exposed, bad composition, etc. The trick here, is I make sure nobody ever sees when things have gone wrong. On a typical photo session, I am shooting at a ratio of 1/20. For every 20 photos I take I will end up with 1 keeper that will be edited and published. With that said, I am always trying to improve my skills and lower this ratio but a big part of learning is making mistakes and seeing what went wrong.

When evaluating photos as part of my workflow, I am only looking for “Picks” (Lightroom shortcut P). No stars, no ratings, no deletes. Just a simple question: would I be proud to publish this photo and would people have an interest in looking at it. Once I do a first full pass and hit all my selects, I then step back and look at how the album has come together.  I will then do a secondary pruning to “Unselect” (Lightroom shortcut U) images. I will remove photos that are too similar and delete what I think are the weakest images in the album. Now I hit the Lightroom develop module and start editing! Once all the edits are done, I do a final review and make sure I love each of the images and how they tell the story of the full album. There are usually only a handful, if any unselects at this stage. I then hit the publish button!

The only time I make some compromises on image quality is when I am documenting events like my daughters graduation.

The lighting was terrible and we were seated in the back and I just had to make the best of it as my daughter only graduates pre-school once 😀. The other exception, is when I am in documentation mode on my iPhone. For these images, I am just snapping pics to capture moments. I am not editing them and just throw them all in a single album each year to serve as a timeline of the year.  They also usually include a lot of selfies like the below shot with Brendan:

Next Tip: Photography Tip: #2 Shoot Using the RAW File Format

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