April 19 - 2019

Editing , Workflow

Three Mistakes You’re Making Culling Your Photos By Grace Burt

by India

Culling (kuh-ling) : narrowing down and picking selections from a large group of images

Remember how culling can kind of totally suck? You’re so excited to finally edit your photos from a shoot and then you get a door slammed in your face when you realize you have to go through them one at a time.

Slow computer? Yikes. Indecisive? Nightmare. Hate spending time on it? I’m with ya.

Here’s a few tips from Grace ( more details here ) on how to speed up the process and take control of your culling habits!

Over-Complicating Things

Keep it simple. Seriously. There is no need to over-complicate your culling workflow. If you can save even seconds while culling each photo, you can end up saving yourself hours of work in the long run.

When culling in Photo mechanic, you can choose all kinds of ratings, stars, and colors to flag your photos. You can organize photos into keepers for your blog post, portfolios, sneak peeks, etc. but my personal recommendation is to rate all the ‘keepers’ with one color, and just get your culling completed. You can go back though and decide what photos you want to blog later. There is also no need to flag the reject photos you’re not keeping, it is just one extra step that will take extra time. Once you have rated all the photos you are keeping, you will be able to select all of them at the same time and drag them into Lightroom for your editing.

Taking Too Much Time

When you’re culling thousands of photos, you can easily get decision fatigue, which will make it difficult for you to make clear, smart decisions. If you take too much time choosing between several similar photos, you can easily get burnt out, and end up making worse decisions. Move quickly and listen to your gut while you’re culling. It will take some time, but once you get the hang of culling this way, you will find yourself flying through it.

It’s important to be selective with your choices. Don’t choose the same photo over and over again. It only takes a blink of an eye to get a gut feeling about a photo and then you need to move on to the next photo. And think of it this way, the faster you are with your photo selections, the faster you move on to editing in Lightroom. And the more selective you are with your photos, the less you will have to go through later. The most important thing to remember is to be efficient and concise. If you need to go through your Photomechanic album more than once to get it right, it’s more than worth it if it speeds up your overall process. But it is even better if you are able to be quick and selective the first time. If I am going back to a photo to second-guess myself more than once, I take away so much time from the rest of my day. Learn to trust your gut and move on.

Get Rid of Distractions

When you are ready to start culling, everything else needs to fade to the background. Don’t watch Netflix. Don’t hang out with friends or play with your dog. If it doesn’t help you focus, it shouldn’t be around you while you cull. Do you really want to cull longer than you need to?

Light a candle. Play some good tunes. Prepare your atmosphere and your mind to speed through culling–like you are a runner about to run the 100 meter dash. Finish everything you need to finish before you start. Emails, errands, dishes, whatever. And then most importantly: turn your phone off. Instagram can live without you for an hour.

When I am ready to start culling, I sit at my computer, open Photomechanic, and it is the only application open on my computer. I put one finger on the rating I will use for my ‘keepers’ and one finger on the ‘next’ arrow button. I don’t move those fingers throughout the entire time I cull. There should be nothing holding me back or distracting me from being able to blast through an entire gallery.

Once you begin to cull your photos, keeping in mind that you should be going with your gut and not taking more than a couple milliseconds to choose a photo, do not stop until you are done. Let me say that again. Do not stop culling until you have finished the entire gallery. The desire to do other things will push you forward until you have finished. With each new photo, think quickly, click yes/no on your rating button, then click to the next photo. If you are resilient, you might be able to cull an entire wedding in under 30 minutes.