As lots of photographers struggle with those topics the most we decided to share with you our own guide to photo selection and processing. You’ll find here all the basic topics and tips on how to manage your work easily so that you’ll never ever have any problems with selecting and editing your shots. Check it all out and start now!
Part one – selecting photos
- Large view
- Upside down point of view
- Reject tech fails
- What to aim attention at?
Part two – processing photos
Select the best photos
The very first thing that you have to do is… rest. When you come back home from a photoshoot or travel it’s best to take some time before editing. Leave your photos for a few days or a week, so that your emotional attachment to some captures fades away. So, upload them all from your memory cards to one external hard drive or make a copy in a cloud and give yourself (and your shoots) a few days break. And then follow those simple steps:
Choose the method of organizing your photos which suits you best, so that it’s easy for you to browse through them. The most popular way is to organize by a date or by a place (the continent/country/city/place it was taken). You can also choose sorting by: a person who was with you, type (landscape, portrait, street, nature), seasons. Adobe Lightroom and Apple Photos are perfect for reading metadata if you sort photos by date.
You definitely don’t want to rename hundreds of photos by hand. Fortunately using photo management programs you can profit from a renaming option after you import your pics there. The other option is to use a bulk file renamer to do the same.
Adding keywords to your photos is absolutely necessary when you upload your photos to your website in the end. And having a website is also necessary 😉
Proper keyword should describe the general theme of the pic (like family, mountains, city, birds, holiday, travel), time of a day and seasons (brings together e.g. night shots, fall sceneries), name of the event and subject (meaning what’s in the photo actually, e.g. for sports pick crowds, after game, practice).
Browse your photos in as large a view as possible, without any distractions. In Adobe Lightroom you use Loupe, Lights Out and the forward and back cursor keys. Take just a quick glimpse at each photo, and mark with l the ones you like or at least you have mixed feelings. This way you’ll choose only the best shoots.
Upside down point of view
No joke here – rotate your pics upside down for a little while! It’s the best way to give yourself a break when you feel stuck or you lack of ideas. Seems awkward, but it really works.
Another great trick to improve your creativity and objectivity is to check the photos in black and white. In Lightroom, if you want to convert several photos at once use Grid view and select the images. Then in Quick Develop > Saved Presets pick one of the black and white presets.
Reject tech fails
Quickly review your photos for simple technical failures – misfires, blown exposures, overexposed and underexposed pics, chopped heads, open mouths, lack of focus, obstructions and much more. If you use Lightroom there’s a Rejected flag for that.
What to aim attention at?
There are several crucial things you have to concentrate at when browsing and selecting your photos. Firstly, focus – check if the most important things of the photo are in focus. Second, balance – Is the exposure balanced and appropriate for the pic? Then, lighting. It can’t be too harsh, too contrasty, too soft and neither flat. And last, but not least – the general composition. It everything necessary clearly seen and can the distracting objects be cropped out? Is it straight, with a sense of order and balance so that the viewer’s eye can be easily lead through the composition? Keep all of those in mind when selecting your photos.
Some people say that photographer should be able to take perfect pictures without the need for editing. But show them the before and after version and they’ll surely like the second one more 😉 Here are the most important things you have to take care of while processing your photos, so that they look astonishing.
When your photo doesn’t show the whole picture in the perfect light and some objects are hardly recognizable in the darkness, you have to increase the exposure. This will make the whole photo brighter, the shadows and light spots as well. It’s the best way to balance the image out, reducing the overexposed areas and bringing up the shadows. Just keep your eye on the amount of light, as added too much can turn your photo greenish or purplish.
Contrast is about enhancing the dark and light elements of the photo. Higher contrast will significantly improve the visual impact of the pic because it makes the boundaries between those elements clearer and sharper.
Highlights and shadows
When some parts of the photo are darker and some brighter than we want, we refer to them shadows and highlights. To fix them, you have to use the tools with exactly the same names – easy as that 😉 They both work really well on RAW files, because you have there more information about the shadow and highlight places on the photo, in comparison to JPEG which compresses the file, discarding that information so to save the size of the file.
Clarity tool makes the contrast higher, but only in the mid-tones. It doesn’t touch the highlights. It rather makes the photo darker because it affects the dark tones more, in reverse to the Contrast slider. The Clarity slider also brings out more texture than Contrast.
This is the quickest way to enhance the colors of your photo. It makes every color more or less saturated, changing the appearance of every hue. You can desaturate your pic to black&white or go completely opposite and saturate the colors to the maximum. The key here is to find the perfect balance which fits your photo best.
Vibrance is more or less the same tool as saturation, but you can find it on Photoshop. Here’s how Adobe describes it:
“Vibrance adjusts the saturation so that clipping is minimized as colors approach full saturation. This adjustment increases the saturation of less-saturated colors more than the colors that are already saturated. Vibrance also prevents skin tones from becoming over saturated.”
So basically, it’s a smart saturation. 😉
Programs and apps
This comes without further explanation – Adobe Photoshop is the undeniable king here. It even became a synonym of photo processing. It’s so massive that it actually may be too complex for a beginner photographer (and too expensive). But you can choose Lightroom, which is the small brother of Photoshop. Its elegant interface and numerous options are perfect for every photographer – the functions work with easy peasy sliders. You can try it out and check if you like it here!
Talking about apps, we have already covered a great number of them here, so go and check out how can you quickly process your mobile phone shoots! Because ever photographer has this situation, when the camera is too deeply hidden so they reach for their phones – Let he who is without sin cast the first stone 😉
Probably the biggest advantage of Lightroom are its presets. They allow you to improve your photos with just one click. For travel photography you have: Natural, HDR Blend, End of Summer, Harsh Shadows, Hawaii Sunsets, Gentle Wave, Haze, Soft Shadows and Darkroom. And that’s really a lot. There are also Clearface, In Style and Coffee Time for portraits. But that’s not the end – you can have them all for free – check out the PhotoTraces offer here!
Here we are! Lots of info at once, huh? Yeah, we know. But having photo selection and editing mastered is your first step to fasten your work with your photos. The tips we share here will surely save you a lot of time and when you start using them you’ll become a pro in no time – and we really mean it. Let us know in the comments what are your tips on selecting and processing photos!