One of the hardest jobs I find as a photographer is to actually edit and choose my own images. I find this hard creating a shortlist for clients and extremely hard editing and choosing my own personal work.
One of the reasons might be that I am too close to the work, perhaps we see the different nuisance’s that went into the work, the hurdles we cover came to get at that point. More than that I feel it’s just difficult, especially with digital photography where we tend to overshoot and have reams of images to select from.
A photo editor would know exactly say how a photograph is to be used within a spread or advert and know the context that we as photographers may not always know. As a portrait photographer, I know and like certain things within a photograph but might not be right for a particular magazine or issue. I try to give the magazine what they are looking for but also have something that I like in the shortlist and hope they may choose that.
I did a shoot for Retail Trends a Dutch magazine who were featuring Ibrahim Ibrahim the owner and managing editor of Portland Design, the retail and branding agency in London. He has some very strong and clear ideas of the future of retail and the portrait I was commissioned to do would go with the article and I guess would reflect that in some way.
On arriving at the office I could see this lovely strong light coming in through the window and thought that could be interesting. Bold strong contrast between light and shade creates some nice graphic shapes to play with. I knew the magazine wanted to use the images black and white so that could work. Although on seeing what Ibrahim was wearing I liked that colour combination to...
I did a selection of shots around the reception and then had a look in the boardroom which has some stuff on the walls and things hanging from the ceiling, all of which I knew would make an interesting portrait and afford plenty of space for type etc. I knew this was more of the look and feel the magazine were after, it had more of a context and was nice spacious.
My photo editing process
On this occasion I sent around 20 images to the client, that's a lot(?) but that took me some time to whittle that down! I usually make an edit in light room, the second edit after I have tweaked those. I then send them to bridge and make a 3rd edit. I then do the retouching if it’s needed and get rid of any more images that I’m not sure of. I'm not sure of the correct way of settling on a final selection but this is generally what I do.
I believe time is the greatest asset when selecting. When I shoot personal work I try to leave it as long as possible before deciding. Obviously some images just leap out at you right away and they are the ones you select but more often than not I choose ones I had not expected on later viewing.
I would be interested to hear from anyone who wants to share their experiences or techniques of selecting their images. How many they send to their clients and how they come to that selection. Do you have a different approach for personal work? I'd love to hear from you.