A while back, I wrote a post about the importance of trying to make photographs on a daily basis (you can read that article here). In this previous post, I stressed the importance of taking MORE photos, and this is definitely important – especially for those just starting out.
But there is also an important balance that needs to be achieved. At some point in your development the emphasis needs to change from “taking” photographs to “making” photographs. It is so very easy in the digital age, to adopt what I call a “spray and pray” approach to photography.
It is definitely possible to take too many photographs, firing away at anything and everything – then wading through hundreds of shots later in order to find a few “keepers”. This costs you a lot of time, and is something you need to change as your skills and knowledge progress.
The other detrimental effect to this approach is when it comes time to display your work publicly Way too many photographers put images on display that really do not reflect the BEST of their work. In my opinion, this is a huge mistake. Uploading twenty or more photos a day for the public to view is definitely not something that a serious photographer should be doing.
With all this in mind, I am now going to try to explain a little about my own personal post-shoot workflow, and while this approach may not work for everyone, I think its something you all should consider.
Every evening I sit down at my computer and go over the images I captured that day. I make several passes through all of these in order to weed them down, here is how it goes:
This is simple, I evaluate each photo and reject those that are technically flawed beyond the point of value. I then delete the rejected photos. I know, there are those out there that will tell you that you should never delete ANYTHING. I do not agree with this approach and think it is a spectacular waste of resources to keep stuff like this. Remember, I’m talking about images that are seriously flawed here – like stuff that is unintentionally out of focus or seriously under/over exposed – not composition-ally flawed or something else minor which can be easily rectified later.
I rate the remaining photos on a scale of 1 to 3, according to this criteria:
- “1” – Images that have little visual appeal, but may be something of interest personally, like snapshot quality stuff of friends or family.
- “2” – Has some visual appeal, may have some interest to the public, but needs more work.
- “3” – Has a great deal of visual interest, needs work but has the potential for “greatness”
The “1” images are then filed away, I may do some perfunctory work on them later, but nothing extensive. The images that were graded “2” and “3” now get serious attention and editing. Adjustments are made for both technical and artistic improvement. Then its time for a 3rd pass…
I re-rate the remaining images (those currently graded “2” or “3”) according to the following criteria:
- “3” – Images that will mostly not be shown publicly but may be subject to future consideration. I may, however, post images like this to Facebook.
- “4” – Will be shown publicly but mostly on-line as opposed to printed and displayed in a gallery environment. Images of this type will be uploaded to my Flickr account and on 500px.com.
- “5” – The “best of the best” – will be shown anywhere and everywhere, will almost always be printed in some form, and will be added to my public portfolio.
All this means that a select few of my images are ever available to the public at large, and very few images ever make it to the web.
This all may seem “restrictive” but if you are going to start establishing and building your reputation as a photographer of merit, it is something you should definitely consider. You are doing yourself a disservice by not restricting the public to viewing the very best you have to offer.