I am just finishing my third workshop in a row- one in Vermont and two in Acadia National Park in Maine- and I have noticed several recurring themes among my students. The big one is that nobody seems to ever throw any of their images away! Even ones that are obviously flawed or downright bad are still on their computers many months after they were taken. there is no good reason to ever keep very bad photos on your computer. Nor is there any reason to keep 20 versions of exactly the same image. If they are all the same get rid of all but two. If there are some important differences between the images decide which ones you like the best and get rid of the rest.

Too many times students give me images for review and critique and then say “Oh, I gave you the bad one. I have a better one in my computer.” If you have a better one get rid of the bad one!

To help you decide what to save and what to get rid of I have included below my criteria for editing my images (in other words, for getting rid of the clunkers). The first deleting pass is in the camera. The next deleting passes are done in the computer. Each pass gets increasingly more specific and more picky until I am left with just the best images from the shoot. Here is the Editing Criteria handout:

A. In camera- quicker, gross, overall considerations


1. Exposure

Significant blown highlights or blocked-up blacks

2. Composition

Light good? Subject the best? Background not distracting? Conditions optimum?

Phrase (good) or Sentence (bad)?

3. Focus

Eyes of animals, main subject, distracting blurs elsewhere


B. In computer- slower more specific considerations


1. First pass- looking again for obvious problems


Highlights, Blocked up blacks


Light, Subject, Background, Conditions

Phrase or Sentence?


Too much? Too little?


2. Second pass- more carefully considering choices, comparing to best pics


Chopped body parts, bad merges, frame filling?


All of eye? both eyes? Critically in focus?


For portraits, movement (actual or implied)

Pretty? or just Interesting


Manageable or deadly


3. Third pass- keep only best one or two per composition


Does it help tell the story?


Do I need it?

Might I need it?


Does it work?

Does it sing?