Hi everyone,

Most people don't realize that even the best photographers have a fair number of average or just plain awful shots. They are just smart enough to make sure nobody sees them.

Long ago I went to a photo workshop at the now defunct Disney Institute. It was great fun and I learned a lot. But the thing I always remember most is John Shaw saying "Edit ruthlessly. If you have an emotional attachment to a shot that really isn't great, put it in your 'images-I-have-an-emotional-attachment-to-but-wouldn't-show-anyone' file, and then DON'T show it to anyone." Then I think he added something about the difference between a pro and an amateur being that the pro knows what to hide. Maybe that was someone else - but the point is valid. Never show anyone less than your best work. That way you build a rep as a great photographer.

RatingsSo, how does Expression Media help you edit ruthlessly? First there is the rating system. Rating is as easy as clicking on the little plus marks under each image. You can rate images 1-5. Early on, I tried to go through once and throw away all obvious non-keepers. Then I'd go through them a second time and assign ratings to all the keepers. What I discovered there is that if I went through 5 times, I'd rate images differently each time. So here's my current strategy and it seems to work for me:

1. Go through all the images and rate all keepers as a 1. Here's where ruthless is important. If it's at all fuzzy in a non-artistic way, bad composition, bad facial expressions, badly exposed, etc., it's out.
2. Find all unrated images and delete them - yes, DELETE them. (If you must keep a backup of everything you have ever shot, you can put them on DVD before you start this process.)
3. Show all files and go through them again, rating all the ones you think are better than a 1 as a 2.
4. Repeat for 3, 4, and 5.

I'll proudly show all my 5s, most of my 4s, some of my 3s. But to be really honest, I seldom show anyone a 1 or a 2. I'm seriously thinking about deleting them. <g>

I almost always run up against two or three shots that are almost identical. Maybe more if taken with a burst. I try to save one vertical and one horizontal from each set. You never know what your orientation needs are going to be.

Using LightTable and the magnifierBut how to pick between them? Say I have 6 shots that are nearly identical. I'll take the first two and show them in LightTable. I'll look at them with the magnifier (shortcut m) to see if one is sharper. If one's softer focus - out it goes. If they are equally sharp, I'll turn off the magnifier and just choose the one that is more pleasing esthetically, kicking out the other. Then I take the best of those two and compare it against the third shot. You get the picture. Eventually I only have the best of the best left.

Then I can proudly show the collection from my shoot to others, and wait for one of them to say, "Wow - your camera really takes good pictures." I tell them that I send it out every morning and see what it comes back with. I think I got that from John Shaw, too.