I start a new job this year. I am now a highschool art teacher. I am beyond exited to lend my experience to the students. I can’t wait to see what the the future brings me now.
5 Steps On How to Cull Your Images Faster:
Culling is an essential part of streamlining the photographic process and I believe what I have experienced will greatly benefit your process. If you’re a wedding photographer or a newbie that just loves to shoot, reducing the amount of photos before you start editing is essential for better photography. Spend less time preparing so many photos and more time on practicing better techniques of getting the right shot.
I started photography when I was in high school, I would go to football games and the next day post every image I took on Facebook. This was a mistake; people don’t engage with 200 images. My first real job was photographer for a summer camp. I truly lucked out in that position, the late owner was an avid fan of photography. The goal of the camp directors was to send home with each child a catalog of personal images taken. This feat was headed by myself and another volunteer photographer. To describe my photographic burden lightly, she was an enthusiastic mother that loved to hold the shutter button down. She would give me her daily files, easily surpassing 10,000 images. It was my job cull her photos. I would usually reduce down to 10% before I tagged each one with general information such as the activity location. I would also tag the name of each child and bunk number for every photo. This was incredibly time consuming and was only made worse by the over avid volunteer effort of destroying her camera mirror. I’m serious about that, she broke the mirror because she took too many photos.
Here are 5 tips to cull your photos faster:
- Take fewer photos
I imagine this might seem obvious or annoying but hear me out. Unless it’s specific to your job like sports or news photography; there is no reason to have 15 photos that look nearly identical. In the job I mentioned above, the photographer would give me 20+ photos of the same flower. If you routinely find yourself looking at a line of images that look nearly identical then you should spend time actively reducing the number of photos you take. One tip for practicing is to use a smaller card with the highest setting. You can’t take as many photos so the idea is you should focus on getting the specific shot. A real challenge for you is only use cards that are 512mb. That would limit the amount of photos to about 2 rolls of film. To do this take a normal card (I believe the smallest SD cards are 4gig) and create a partition primary. You might have to do some research but there are many online sources that can help you.
- Start culling backwards
I usually start with the last image I took and work backwards. I notice that I have an easier time letting an image go (marking it a reject) if the order of images is not sequential. This might not work for you but I think its worth trying. And it doesn’t work for every session. I would skip this for weddings.
- Listen to music
Culling is boring. Going through 4,000 images quickly and reducing by a factor of 10 can be a drain on your creativity. I haven’t met a single person the truly enjoys flipping through and marking rejects. Finding ways to make it more enjoyable will help with an effective workflow. Similar to running, culling works best when you pace yourself. Find a rhythm, which might easier when you have music to keep your tempo. I can breeze through 10,000 photos without losing my drive if I have Pandora running in the background.
- Learn keyboard shortcuts
I’m going to assume you are using adobe products like Lightroom. If you are and you don’t know keyboard shortcuts you are wasting so much time! Navigating with your keyboard allows for incredible speed that is only limited by the processing power off your computer. Print out the shortcuts and study them. Test yourself by covering either side and don’t stop until you have a perfect score. You will be stunned by how fast you go.
- Be your worst critic
Have a heavy hand and be as critical as possible. Again, should be an obvious but worth remembering before you start. I tend to do two sweeps. The first I move fast with a heavy hand. I reject the obvious like out of focus and bad composition. I ignore everything else until I come back the second time looking for the best shots. Again I am very critical and harsh.
Terrible Two’s: Not So Terrible
My friend is down from Utah. I always love taking photos of her family. This time we did a traditional portrait session. We all got hungry half way though and decided pizza was a better idea than photos. I knew it was fine to call it early; scrolling though the back of my camera I saw many golden portraits. This was the first time working with a 2-year-old for me. I really enjoyed entraining him with bubbles and capturing smiles. I think our plan for the next session is a Sally Mann style of photos…or we will go to the petting zoo that has a baby cow. It was lovely visiting with them.
When B’s grandmother passed she had left a cat in her house. This tiny calico fairly aged feline was a master dodger. The only signs of life when visiting the house; the food gone and the toys had moved. We had to trap her when the house was sold. She stayed out on the patio, her hiding spot was behind a surfboard. Hiss and yell anytime you got anywhere near her. At night Fluffy would roam around but that would only be long after we went to bed. Apparently this same cat sat in the lap of B’s grandmother every day. I decided to make it my mission, Fluffy will like me. I removed the items she should hide behind. She still wouldn’t come anywhere near me. She found safety sitting on the chairs, extremely quick and would jump to the next chair before you got to it. I used treats and the handle end of a barbecue brush to finally (over weeks of inching near) petting her chin and face. Slowly I replaced the brush for my hand. From there no looking back, she never leaves my side. Fluffy even sits in my lap while I type. By all accounts she is a normal cat, just more skittish than most.
What Have I Shot?
I recently changed photographic careers. This past year I started working in a hospital. Now I shoot babies! (sorry for the euphemism, I have a sarcastic sense of humor.) I absolutely love it. I walk into 5-12 rooms a day with a mother and her new child. I describe to the parents my job, that they receive a free session. I take magical portraits of their baby. There are a lot of things to love about this job. Very few positions I’ve done required so much portraiture per day. When I first started I was nervous about how timid I might be around newborns. Fortunately, the training and working with the hospital staff have given me so much confidence that the question I receive the most is “Are you a father?”. There answer is no, to which they respond “well, you look very well prepared.” All I know is how to soothe a baby, I still have never changed a diaper…I don’t plan on it either. (if you don’t catch the joke here, I can’t help you). I wish I could show the photos I take but HIPPA is the reason I wont. The above images are of my nephew, be sure to arrow through to see the rest.
There is a difficult aspect of my job that is fairly uncomfortable to talk about, Bereavement. For the parents that have suffered a loss, it is my job to provide a portrait session. I take photos of babies that have passed. It is fairly emotionally challenging but serving as a technician; providing for families filled with despair, allows for a little separation from their trauma. I wish I could speak of the specific stories I have seen just to shed light on a subject so dark. I believe working as a lifeguard for 3 years gave me the experience maintaining professional composure in traumatic events. I take solace knowing the parents will cherish what I make for them, maybe not. I hear many parents are too divested to look again. There are three categories that I photograph. 1. Child alone. Usually we work with the nurse in a side room special for us. We take photos just like how we take photos for any other baby. Sometimes we are in the morgue, it is pretty unsettling. 2. Child with parents. This is a tough one. The emotions are more palpable. The session is again normal but includes portraits with the mother and/or the father holding their baby. Looking through the lens and focusing on their tears. It’s hard not to cry while working. 3. End of life. Sometimes parents know for a while that their child wont make it. This session is done in a photojournalistic way. Following the last moments of life. To be honest I haven’t done this one yet… So that is all pretty grim, moving on now. The good news (really?) is with modern medical procedures, infant mortality is pretty darn low.
B and I are walking though nature preserves. We both trade the camera and take photos. I don’t really know who took the above images. I guess it should be called a collaboration? I find the walks therapeutic. We slowly meander through the trails, stopping periodically to investigate. When I edit the images I listen to Johnny Cash or maybe the Gorillaz, while trying to emulate the soul. Nothing too deep here.
Finally, Cats! A delightful omnipresent photographic opportunity. A subject to practice photography with. Many times I wonder how to turn cat (or animal) photography into a career. Maybe one day you’ll see me doing luxury pet photography. I’ll call it Purr-traits…no, that’s a dumb name. I have formed deep relationships with the feline residents. One of which will be featured soon, she deserves her own post.
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