Guest Guru: Get Your Digital Pictures Organized for the Holidays By Todd Smith

It’s holiday time and, if you’re like me, it’s a time when your digital camera will be snapping continuously. Especially, with photos of people, the only way to get natural, inspiring pictures is to keep the shutter clicking.

And the beauty of digital cameras is that it doesn’t cost any extra to take more shots. In fact, I like to think I’m getting my money’s worth from my camera if I shoot more.

But, in the pursuit of great pictures, the achilles heel of digital photographers can be the computer.

As a nature and lifestyle photographer, I shoot hundreds, even thousands of photos every week. What I don’t want is for my computer to become a dumping ground of unorganized image files that may get lost and never even looked at!

So what is the solution?

Be ruthless in your editing. That’s right, as free-handed as you were clicking the shutter, you can easily be just as free-handed hitting the delete key when you’re editing.

Last week I did a family photo session where I took about 900 shots, but I only delivered 89 pictures. At some weddings, I have taken as many as 5000 images in order to deliver about 1000.

Here’s how I get a big number of shots down to the best few:

1. As you go through your pictures for the first time, pick out the ones that appeal to you. Most of the pictures will be average, or less than average, quality. If they don’t really do something for you, don’t include them in your keepers pile. By selecting only the pictures that appeal to you, you won’t be rejecting your bad shots–just choosing your favorites. It goes a lot faster this way too! In just a few minutes you can go through all of your pictures.

2. Choose the best one image of any sequences, or repeats, from the shoot. When you’re taking pictures, it’s good to take lots of variations, sometimes only fractions of a second apart, so that you get the best facial expressions. But, when you’re editing, choose the one expression that captures the feeling best. It may be hard to decide between two (or twenty) similar shots, but leaving them both (or all) in is not good practice, and is a hinderance to finding your best shots later. When you’re done editing, you want each picture to say something different–you don’t want to bore your viewers with lots of repeats.

3. Go through your pictures once to choose your keepers, and then go through your keepers one more time, to clean up a little more. Two passes, and you’re done!

4. Delete anything that is not in your keepers pile. That’s right, actually erase them from your hard drive! It may sound extreme, but when you do it a few times, it gives a wonderful feeling of freedom. It’s like emptying the garbage. Why spend all that time editing if you keep all your trash too? Just do it and forget about it. Now you have room for the next photo session. No more holding on to the would-have-beens. You’re free to move forward.

Check in next time to learn how to name your pictures, and how to organize your picture folders…

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