Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Picking and Choosing Photos

I'm taking some time today to go through my photos and edit out the bad and not-so-great shots. I was already working on this when I got a call from a friend asking me if I am nervous about sharing my photos, and how I choose which photos to share. I took the question to mean I should blog about this today.

In today's culture where so many have a decent or better camera and feel pressured to share the pictures they take with the world, too many people have photo archives that are overwhelming. Some solve this by posting all the pictures - good or not. This leaves the viewers overwhelmed because they have to sort through all the photos and soon become disinterested. Others only post the really great photos occasionally, and despite potential interest in their other good photos, they are left un-sorted. Yet others upload their photos from their cameras, rarely to see them again.

I'm in the second category, and have been forcing myself to go through these so I can share all my great shots with the world instead of just a few. As an added bonus, I'm making more room on my hard drive so I don't have to go buy a new one yet.

How to define the not-so-great shots? I've discovered over time that despite a photo looking good for light, focus, or composition, I can still consider it a loss if it doesn't do well in two out of the three areas. For example, if your lighting is great, but the focus and composition are both off, you don't have a shot. If you have two out of the three, you have a not-so-good to good shot, which is still good enough for sentimental pictures and sharing. The GREAT shots, that have all three elements (plus often a lot of luck on timing), should be tagged or moved to a different folder altogether. Other photographers might have different criteria, but I'm sticking to my own rules for disposing of unwanted photos and simplifying my life.

It is much more difficult to get rid of even a bad photo if someone you love is in it. Trust me, do it. In the long run, you'll still have enough pictures and memories to satisfy your love. You'll also have a lot less regret than you think about the lost photo, and when you reminisce years from now, you'll appreciate the beauty of what you kept.

If you have doubts about posting a picture, get a friend whom you consider a decent photographer to look at a few with you (again, filter out the photos you know are bad - don't make your friend/s sift through those) and before you know it, you'll have a well-organized album that you actually enjoy going through.

Here are some good choices for further reading:
http://www.lightstalking.com/ a great blog with beautiful pictures and great advice.
http://www.strobist.blogspot.com/ another great blog that offers the best advice on lighting I've seen
http://www.nature.org/photosmultimedia/index.htm?s_intc=header beautiful examples of nature photography, plus advice from experts on getting out there yourself.
http://noemiphotography.com/blog/ a great portrait photographer here in MN who writes a blog with advice, and I believe offers classes on photography, as well.