my flickr photostream

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Edit your work!

© 2009 Simon Hucko

Today's advice - edit your photographs before sharing them! I mean this in two ways. First, always always always run your photos through some sort of image editor. Even for snapshots at a family event, spending about 30 seconds per shot to edit brightness/exposure, contrast, straighten the photos if needed, and crop if needed (more on that some other time) can dramatically improve your photos. If you're shooting RAW, you're going to want to add some mild sharpening and noise reduction to that list, since it's not being done in camera.

Second, even before you go and adjust your photos you should decide on what shots you want to share with the world. If you take 10 different shots of the same subject (a flower, for instance), don't edit and upload all 10. Pick the best one, and stick to that. People judge you as a photographer based on the output that they see. You can instantly become a better photographer by only sharing your best work.

Let me repeat that - you can instantly become a better photographer by only sharing your best work. And as you improve at your craft, your standards for what make the cut should increase as well. Most image editors have some sort of image rating system built in, so you can quickly flip through what you've captured and mark what gets edited and shared, and what gets archived and never viewed again (or even deleted, but you didn't hear that from me).

This isn't meant to discourage you from sharing your work. But a little judicious self-editing can go a long way.



  1. Lol I really ought to follow that advice. For me I think it boils down to laziness? Plus I like the idea that if anything should happen to my files (say our house burns down) at least I've got all my photos on Flickr.

    (I suppose I could make only certain ones public...)

  2. @Kristan - True, Flickr is a pretty convenient backup solution. And there's certainly a time/place for putting up almost all of the pictures from an event (family gathering, etc), although I usually try to edit for redundancy and just plain bad photographs - eyes closed, blurry, out of focus, severely under/over exposed, boring composition... On the day of my brother's graduation, for instance, I shot around 400 frames, and posted about 160 to the Picasa album (which I use as a family album and share with everyone involved). A 1/3 success rate is about normal for me for that sort of thing. I then pared it down to 21 for uploading to Flickr that I felt would be interesting to more than just those immediately involved.

    If I was preparing a portfolio for documentary work, I would probably only include 1 from the set. So I guess how strict you are with what you show depends on who the target audience is.

  3. Yeah, I need to get better at this myself. I've come along way from posting every shot that came off my camera when we went on our trip, but there are still some I look back on, and think "hm, maybe I just shouldn't even have shown it, even though it was a 'good effort'". But hey, I guess it just helps pad some future project where you show how much better you got by looking at your past stuff! ;) Thoughtful post

  4. @Matt - Well, that's the whole part about "as you improve your craft, your standards for what make the cut should improve as well." I touched on this in another post a while back - take some time and go back through your old work. It will help you see your growth, and you can learn from your previous mistakes. It may even inspire you to attempt a shot or technique again, hopefully with more success ;)

    Plus, it's a different situation when you're an amateur hobbyist vs a working pro - posting work that isn't your absolute best isn't going to hurt your chances of getting a job.

    I guess my point is, if you want to be known as a "photographer" (in whatever form), taking a little pride in your work and editing what you put out can give you an instant boost.