Let’s Do A Careful Edit.

“There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.”

~ Ansel Adams

In the last few blogs, we’ve been discussing how to take a great image for our holiday cards, and hopefully over Thanksgiving, you were able to use my suggestions to make the perfect image.

Well right…you took a lot of pictures and now you have a lot of files to edit. So the next task is to do a critical critique and delete any images that don’t make the cut.

Start by throwing out any files with poor exposure, poor backgrounds, incorrect focus—any major fault that makes them unacceptable for further consideration.

Ok. Done. That was easy and we’ve still got a lot of great images left.

Next look at the emotional tone of each photograph. Are the subjects looking straight at you? If you used a flash, are they gathered close together so that the flash exposure is illuminating everyone equally? (If some people are closer to the camera than the main group they will be overexposed, and if some people are behind the main group they will be underexposed.) How about the composition?

Ok, we are going to eliminate a few more.

Now for the hard part. We have to put on our blinders and look at each remaining image as if someone else made it. This will force us to see faults that we might otherwise overlook. I can’t use people photographs for this concept, (it wouldn’t be ethical…who wants to be in a bad photo and have a photographer doing a critique of the faults), so let’s use an animal to illustrate the point.

Here’s a photo that doesn’t work, but when I look at this image I think, wow! This is a fantastic shot! This is terrific! This is wonderful! Look at this photo…I kept my cool and got really close. I’m right next to the jaws of death, but I came away with the shot!!! Plus I’m still alive!

But if I take myself out of it and view this image as if someone else made it, I can’t really tell what is going on. For starters this animal looks quite peaceful, not dangerous, but I am reading in the extra information that was there when I took it. It’s an alligator I came across during a slough in the Everglades. He/she is resting on a log. I’m a bit scared to be so close. What if this monster gets hungry? Can you see the log? No. Can you tell I’m close? No. Does the animal look dangerous? No. What is the message of the photograph? It’s all too confusing. You have to work too hard for it to make sense.

Here’s one that’s much better.

Now let’s extrapolate to how this works in a people photo.  Put on your editing hat and take yourself out of the Thanksgiving photos you just took.  Can you clearly see what everyone is doing in the photo? Are there expressions that are angry? Sad? Uninterested? Confused? Does everyone look relaxed, or are there some photos where they are in odd positions? What about the clothing…ok, or are skirts hiked up too far, pants bunched, shirts hanging out?What kind of an emotional tone is being conveyed? If you were viewing this image as if someone else took it, what would it say?

So take the time to do a careful editing job,  find an image where the message is clear and next week we’ll review some of the new ways we can design a holiday card and send it out online.

Good shooting,



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