Making the decision to start a photo project doesn’t have to be intimidating. These tips will help.
Making the decision to start a photo project doesn’t have to be intimidating! We take so many photos every day that it’s hard to be objective about what photos we should or should not include. It’s easy to fall into the trap of scrutinizing every photo you have to make sure you’re including as much as possible. Luckily, we’ve created a set of easy-to-follow guidelines to help you determine the best photos for your project.
#1 – Make it quick
Take the group of photos you’re thinking of using and either set up three folders on your computer or make room for three piles on a flat surface. Spend no more than two to three seconds on each photo and make the gut decision that you either “have to have it,” “want to have it” or “can live without it” and sort them accordingly. This will weed out the photos you don’t really need right off the bat. Be ruthless!
#2 – The bad photos have to go.
Start with the “want to have” pile and then do the same for the “have to have” pile. It will be harder to weed through the “have to have” pile, but a bad photo is a bad photo. What makes a bad photo? We have a simple checklist to help you determine that.
- Is there anything distracting in the photo? If your eye is drawn to a bright color in the background or an unwanted person on the side that takes away from the subject, move on!
- Is the photo cutting anything off? Are you missing arms, legs or the tops of heads? It’s likely you have a better photo to include instead.
- Blurry photos are always bad! If your photo is blurry, especially a digital photo you plan on using in a photo book or on canvas, it won’t print well. Be wary of low-resolution cellphone photos.
- Know what you’re good at. Overexposed (too bright) and underexposed (too dark) photos could be adjusted with some editing, but if you don’t have the time or the expertise for that, cut them.
A blurry photo, especially from a cell phone, is best left out of your selections.
#3 – Prioritizing what’s left
You’ve done the hard part and by now you should have a decent amount of photos from both groups that would work well for any project. Now you can combine and prioritize! This part is less objective, but we have some tips to help you narrow it down to the best of the best.
- Is everyone looking at the camera? Do they have a “good face”? By that we mean, do they look like they’re enjoying the moment and having a good time?
- Don’t fall in love with your own photography! Pick the photo that best represents the whole experience. Narrow it down to two or three if you have 10 or more unless you plan on building a collage spread in a photo book or a wall art piece of the same event.
- That loving feeling. If a photo makes you pause or triggers an emotional response, it should go to the top of your pile.
- Find your balance. All photos have their place, especially in a photo book. If you went on a special vacation with your family, it makes sense to include a photo or two of beautiful sandy beaches—you just don’t need 15. If you’ve done several professional photo shoots throughout the year, keep the best ones and save room for the candid shots that highlight the spirit of your family.
- Are you capturing a moment or a personality? It’s not just about the smiling faces or posed photos. Sometimes photos that capture the spontaneous, full-bellied laughter of a child or a playful action shot make the best selections.
A great example of a unique moment likely to be included in a project.
These tips will help you narrow down the best of the best for the photos that you have, but remember that with whatever project you’re working on, it’s about telling a story. You’ll become a pro at recognizing when one photo is better than the other, but if you find yourself missing a piece of the puzzle, don’t be afraid to use a photo that you’ve discarded to round things out.
Preparing for photo projects ahead of time and maintaining a similar process of photo selection throughout the year will help avoid stress at project time. Delete bad photos as you take them, review your photos immediately after importing from your phone or camera and keep these tips in mind even when you don’t have an immediate plan for your photos. This will make your approach to photo selection to for a 50–100 image photo book just as easy as selecting 12 photos for a calendar.
Jennifer Niloff is a lifelong scrapbooker who turned her passion into the nation’s leading photo-organizing business, EverPresent. Established in 2012, her company now employs over 40 professionals and serves clients nationwide. Jennifer writes on topics ranging from photo-scanning best practices to digital photo organizing to using photo books and edited slideshows as the best methods to share your important family photos and videos with loved ones.
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