Was your mom like mine, insisting that you include all your siblings or classmates when you played a game or planned a party? Did you secretly long to not invite the class bully with a mean streak as wide as the Mississippi? Take heart! When it comes to creating a first rate photo collection, “It’s Okay to Play Favorites.”
Recently I attended an Adobe Seminar presented by Photoshop Guru Scott Kelby focusing on how to use Adobe Lightroom2 to optimize photo workflow. I am definitely not a Pro in this field, but Scott demonstrated several easy techniques that are just as useful if you are using Mac iPhoto, Windows Microsoft Picture Viewer, Adobe Photoshop Elements, or Adobe Lightroom2.
As I thought about establishing a photo workflow, I realized that these same techniques are even useful if you are working with a shoebox of family prints. Any photo collection will benefit from judicious sorting. As a bonus, your family will come to thank you that the slide show features 8 minutes of fabulous photos rather than 29 minutes of marginal memories.
Professional photographers know that in order to survive they have to master the business end of taking pictures. This means photos cannot languish away on memory chips. They have to be uploaded to a computer, sorted, minimally touched-up, and then presented to a client for selection and (hopefully) purchase. Customers also want to see only The Best, after all that’s why they hired a Pro.
When the family photographer begins to think like a Professional, it becomes easier to realize that Playing Favorites is not only Okay, it is necessary to building a quality photo collection. Of course, the family historian has other considerations as well. An out-of-focus or poorly framed shot of Aunt Mildred may be the only photograph of her at all. By all means, this one is a Keeper.
So, your images are in front of you – either in a software program like iPhoto, PS Elements, or Lightroom, or spread out on the dining room table. How do you select The Best?
First, pull together the “Photo Shoot” or set. This would be the Rehearsal Dinner, the Birthday Party, or your walking tour of Paris. From this set of photos you want to choose the best, which also means dumping the worst. Why waste time and effort with bad photos? Some photo programs tempt you to use Star Ratings, but why? As Scott Kelby notes, do you think you will ever want to look at one or two star photos? Those should be the ones that are out of focus or have heads cut off. Even three star photos? The Star selection system is slow; pros would never earn a living if they spent their time deciding if a photo was worth two stars or three stars. If you think you might want the picture some day, there is a way to keep it without inviting it to the party. Read on.
How to Play Favorites with your Photos
1. Assemble Photo Shoot pictures
2. Ignore typical Star Ratings; instead quickly select the Best, reject the Worst. Use stars (or flags) to assign one star Keep and five stars Reject. That’s it; two choices. Keep or Reject. (Using stars or flags allows you to create a group which can be easily selected later.)
3. Can’t decide which of six is the best? Place two similar photos side-by-side (Lightroom2 and PS Elements allow this comparison view.) Choose the best of the two, reject the other. Bring a new photo in to compete with the winner. Audition each photo against the winner. Try to move quickly; don’t let yourself get bogged down in selecting; go with your instinct.
4. Make a New Collection Set and drag all the Keeps into this set. Label it Rehearsal Dinner. (You could call it Rehearsal Dinner Keeps, if you like).
5. Now, you have to make one more decision. If you want to get rid of the bad photos, select the Reject group and Delete. If you just can’t throw them away, make a second New Collection Set and drag all the Rejects into this set. Label it clearly Rehearsal Dinner Rejects. There, you saved them, but no one has to look at them ever again if they don’t want to!
Playing Favorites will eliminate bullies from your photo collection and give you the best and the brightest to work with for your slideshow, album, or web page. You may even gain a reputation as the Family Pro Photograher.
More Photo Tips and Tech-Tricks next week at Tech Tuesday.