The greatest challenge faced by any photographer is being an editor of their own work. I am not referring to one’s Photoshop skills, but rather a shooter’s ability to filter through their body of work and select only the best. Whether it’s designing a printed portfolio or creating a new gallery on a website, it can be a difficult thing to turn a critical eye on one’s own photographs.
Here are some suggestions that may help develop and refine your skills as your own best photo editor.
Regularly Collect Your Month’s Best Pictures
Gathering your best images for the month will provide quick access to those photographs when it comes time to edit. Use Adobe Lightroom’s Collections feature or save them into a folder on your hard drive. It saves time and provides you a perspective on your progress and whether you’re shooting enough.
Use Lightroom’s Compare Feature
This powerful tool allows you to make direct comparison between two images on your screen. It’s not only valuable for comparing like images from a shoot, but whether a new image is as good or better than your existing great work.
Collect Images into Projects or Genres
Gathering your photographing into project or genres can provide you the first step of your editing process. Knowing that the images belong to a singular body of work can help you to determine what works and what doesn’t.
Post Your Prints on a Wall and Live with Them
Placing your images on a wall or cork board allows you to experience your images on a daily basis, without requiring you to boot up your computer. This is a valuable tool when you are working on a personal project where the images can provide you a sense of your progress.
Edit Your Images to a Strong Core 8
By creating a mini portfolio based on your best 8 images you create a strong starting point for building a larger portfolio. Rather than creating a weak, uneven portfolio of 20 photographs, you can begin with a very strong spine of images on which you can slowly build from.
Create a PDF Portfolio using the Book Module
Lightroom’s Book module allows you to design a PDF portfolio within minutes. Seeing your images displayed as if they are on a printed page can give you an insight into how they work individually or next to each other on the page. Having this context helps you develop a sense of rhythm and flow when images are presented in a book-like form.
Get Feedback from People Whose Opinions Your Respect
Share that PDF portfolio with a photographer friend who you admire and respect and get their feedback. Don’t be defensive about their reaction, but rather take their feedback for the insight it provides. You’ll get different opinions from different people, but each can provide you valuable information that you otherwise arrive to on your own.
Publish a Small Zine or Self-published Book
Self publishing whether its through MagCloud or Blurb provides an easy and quick way to produce a printed version of your best work. Committing to a final edit by creating a physical manifestation of your work helps you to commit to your choices. It’s also provides a great way to share your work.
Reassess Your Best Work Regularly
Whether it’s every 3 or 6 months, take the time to go through your best work and excise images that no longer measure up. Rather than simply accumulating images, become a critical editor and take things out. As you you produce more work and develop this editor’s eye, you will get better at being your own best critic.