Culling the Shoot

When preparing to cull images from a photo session, try to remember some of the key takeaways from the session. In other words, consider the angles you covered (wide, medium, tight) in each scene in order to put together a complete and cohesive story.

Just as you should’ve tried to slow down your shoot as demonstrated in Chapter 3, to capture more usable images in fewer scenes and locations, the old “less is more” adage also works well for culling. You can ask yourself three simple questions to prevent dilution.

Does the image:

  • Flatter the subject? If the image does not present your client in a flattering way, they likely won’t like the image.
  • Add to/dilute the story? If the image is not adding a fresh angle or capturing a unique expression, then you are probably passing the culling job off to the client. They shouldn’t need several images that look almost identical. Be careful not to confuse similar poses and expressions as being “duplicates” if they’re shot at different angles (such as medium vs. close-up).
  • Meet our quality standard? Is this an image that would make you proud to note that it came from your studio?

Try not to think about shooting “x” number of images for your shoots (such as an engagement shoot). Yes, you’ll need to deliver a suitable amount of images as was likely discussed while setting your client’s expectations during a pre-shoot meeting/discussion, but try to think more about the story you’re trying to tell and how the images you’re choosing help you better tell that story.

Post-producers expect to see establishing shots for each new scene, so be sure to include such shots. These include wider images of the location/scene, as well as medium and close-up shots of various details, such as crashing waves or palm trees at a beach.

For images that include your clients, try to select photos that were captured with similar lighting (either dramatic or bright and airy). You can include both dramatic and bright and airy images, but you should have enough of each type to make a cohesive set for an album spread or wall art cluster.

Note: Loupe View Vs. Thumbnail View in Lightroom

If you shoot with a camera like a Canon 5D Mark IV and trust the focusing system to deliver sharp images, you can probably get away with using the thumbnail view in Lightroom to cull the images; however, if you really want to check the focus on the images, try using loupe view, which presents larger previews of the image, but might take longer to load.