Thursday, October 27, 2011


By Moritz Stragholz


After a long day shooting you get home with a couple 100 or even 1000 shots and now it is time to look through to select the images that you want to use. Picking out the right images is really important, especially for fashion photography. A fashion photographer in Dallas explains how consumers heavily rely on visuals when buying items, so if the wrong images are used, it could negatively affect how successful something is.

There are various ways of doing this, however there are two ways that I find to be the best and fastest ways of selecting images (ways described are in Lightroom however work as well in other programs such as Capture One and others). 

Before you start, first question should be, what do I want from the shoot? Do I want only a few images to edit and retouch (usually the case if I do a fashion shoot) or do I want a large number of images to edit (usually for events). 

Colour rating:

First, let’s look at going through a large selection of images from an event such as a wedding, where you want to get rid of bad shots but you still want to show most of your work. 

Photos by Moritz Stragholz

After importing the images to your computer go through the images using a colour code to select the images, I use ‘red’ (shortcut 6) and ‘yellow’ (shortcut 7), pressing ‘6’ every time I want to keep an image and ‘7’ every time I don’t want to keep the image (you could use as well ‘p’ for pick and ‘x’ for reject however I find the colour mode easier). In case you are shooting an event where you want to separate two different themes (let’s say a car show and you want to separate people and cars) you then can continue with the colour marking by pressing ‘8’ (green) or ‘9’ (blue) for the other theme. When finished, you then can filter each group, looking at pictures you want to delete as well as all pictures that you selected in to keep. 

Star rating:

The other way of selecting images is when you want to narrow it down to the top images. 

This method is more time consuming than the first one, however unlike the first method where you are looking for a large selection of images, here you are looking for a small selection of images to retouch or to show your client.

Photos by Moritz Stragholz

First run through:

1 star rating, here you go through all the images very fast and give ‘1 star’ (shortcut key 1) to every image that you think is ok. Don’t spend much time here, so if the object you were taking picture of is in the frame, flash went off… give it 1 star. 

2nd run through:

Filter all images that you gave 1 star and go through again. Again it’s a fast run through. This time look a bit closer at the composition of the picture, do you like the overall feeling of the picture? If yes, then press ‘2’ to give 2 stars. 

3rd run through:

Now you looked at your images already twice so you get a feeling for them and you already have an idea of what looked good and what didn’t. So this time filter all the images with 2 stars and go through again. Look at the composition, lighting and sharpness of the pictures… if that’s good, give it 3 stars by pressing ‘3’. 

If you've done the shoot for a client, I show them all the images with 3+ stars, this cuts down the amount of images and there is always a difference in taste so what you think might be the best shot might not be the best for the client (however, you don’t want to show images that are not in focus, badly lit or even with subject not in frame). 

4th run through:

Filter all images with 3 stars and go through again, this is now a selection of your good shots so spend time on this. You know the images here are in focus, lit well and composition is good. Now it is time to look in detail at the image, do they stand out from the other 3 star images? If yes, then give it 4 stars. Here it's often useful to maybe play around a bit with the editing, change exposure a bit or change curves, contrast, saturation… and see what it does to the image. 

5th and final run through:

The last run through is one that you might want to do or might not want to, you saw the overall quality of the shoot now a few times. The last run through is there to look at the 4 star rated pictures and to see if there is a picture or a selection of pictures that you would like to include to your portfolio. So 5 stars should be only given to a very few images if any that you would like to use for your portfolio. 

The star rating run through is a time consuming process, however if done right it is a great way of selecting images and to narrow them down to only few shots. If you spend only 1-2 sec per image on the first 2 run through it won’t take you to long to look at all the images. Plus you get a good feel for your images and the overall quality. Even though there is no rule on how many images can get 4 stars, look at around 10-20% from the overall shoot. 

For more tips and thoughts come and have a look at my blog and website:


Read more articles by Moritz: LOCATION LIGHTING

1 comment:

  1. This article is very lightroom centric since it mentions two method and keyboard shortcuts for lightroom.

    I would also disagree with the star rating approach used here.

    A better process is to make a first pass and reject any images that are bad/ These are images that you know you will never use (for example your finger slipped whilst you were pointing somewhere and you shot the floor by accident).

    Now mark all the images with a 3 star rating and then go through marking all the ones you don;t really like a 1 star. Next a second pass makring the ones that are a bit better but you think the client shouldn't see a 2 star. The next pass is the ones you think are better than average which get a 4 star. Final pass are the ones you think are the real winners which may only be 1 from an entire shoot which gets a 5 star.

    I would also recommend using keywords for tagging images based on content rather than using colour codes. It is easier to have a keyword for 'people' and another for 'cars' than to colur code, since if you look at the catalogue after a few months you may not remember what the colours meant.


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