For Photographers: Culling

Culling: deleting your creative babies; getting rid of perfectly good photos; our job as photographers; separating the weak from the strong; serving our clients the biggest and best piece of the “cake”

So what is culling exactly? Culling is when you go through ALL the images from a session and choose the ones you are going to give to the client, and leaving… aka Deleting… the ones you are not.

What do I mean by “Serving the Client the best piece of the cake”? Ok, imagine that you were serving dessert to your crush. You want to let that dessert speak to their soul! You put TLC in that cake and you made sure you were using only the best ingredients and tools to make it. You took a baking class(!) to learn how to make the most epic cake ever. You even added a little extra butter… just because. Once it was cooked to perfection and properly cooled, you iced that baby and stood back to take a look at what you KNEW we the best cake you had ever made. Now comes time to cut it and give a slice to your main squeeze. You choose the prettiest part of the cake, the one with the perfect swirl of icing. Exact proportions are taken into consideration  and you lay that slice on your favorite plate. Making sure your hair looks pretty, you pinch your cheeks for a little natural blush and take that slice to your favorite person in the world. You left all the other slices of cake behind because you know two things: this is the best slice, and they don’t need the rest of it. This is the perfect portion, the best portion. THAT’S what we do with wedding photos.

Are you with me?? Or did I lose you way back at butter?

Culling important because of a few reasons. First you need to cut out all the junk, like exposure tests and blurry ones. Secondly you need to make sure you are choosing stellar images that tell the story as concisely and purely as possible. The client does not necessarily need to have 4,000 images on their wedding day. They need less than a thousand.. seriously. Five of the same exact same pose is not necessary. This process can be daunting but if you just change your perspective a little bit, you might just be able to enjoy it. Here is how we do it.

1. We start with the right tools: Photo Mechanic: I will elaborate on those amazing miracle of a program another day since it deserves its own post. Suffice it to say that this has saved me eons of time and if it was a person, I would definitely be serving it the best slice of cake, because it would be my crush.

2. We import all the images into one folder “BrideandGroomsFirstNames>RAW”. I know that everyone does it differently but… thats how we do. I know their first names SO much better than the last. We sort by the capture time and dig in.

3. We do a run through of all the images, selecting the ones we want to keep. We dont “choose” ones that we want to remove, but instead “choose” images that we are wanting to keep. It’s more fun to say yes than no. This first go around means we are trimming our all the poorly exposed, blurry, unengaging, boring, repetitive, and trash images. We make SURE to keep any photos that we were asked to take, images of family that we know to be important, and any we are not quite sure of yet.

4. Next we do a second run through and make the tough decisions. This is where we typically go from 1,300 images that we kept the first go around… down to hopefully 600-800 images. This means we are deleting images that are potentially good images. So why delete? Because… they dont need the entire cake along with the leftover batter. They are getting the absolute best slice. We choose the images where they look the MOST in love, she looks the MOST beautiful, the decor is shown in the BEST light, the formal where they look the most NATURAL, the PEAK of emotion, and the HIGHEST backflip on the dance floor. Unless the image is storytelling, archival, the most beautiful, or requested, we bid it farewell. I also don’t want to give the client the job of making those choices. Getting ALL these photos is exciting and then it becomes a burden. Which one should we print, which ones go in the album etc etc. It’s really hard to choose so we do a lot of the choosing for them. You look awesome in THIS ONE I say… They are paying you to be the expert so be one!

5. We rename the files and get started editing.

It’s HARD to delete photos and we aren’t perfect at this either. Sometimes we let a few extra photos slip through, but this is our general rule and it has really helped us. We hope it helps you.

 

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