Try 10 Easy ABC of CameraWork Photo Selection Tips

In a world where we all take far more pictures than we ever did five years ago, we have so many choices to make when it comes to selecting pictures to edit. In his blog post, I will be looking at the criteria for making the cull from many to the few.

Every different picture management software will have its own way of selecting pictures for editing. This may be a simple flag system as available in Lightroom to the highly complex system of Smart Collections that automatically filters like photographs into folders.

For the purposes of this post I will be talking about the reasons why not to select a picture, what are the reasons to kill your babies as it has sometimes been called. There is a need for a ruthless mindset not to accept any picture for editing that is not acceptable by every criterion.

The ten photo selection tips below work as a funnel to help weed out unacceptable pictures before editing.

10 Photo Selection Tips 
1 Choose pictures that reflect your vision and style

When you release a picture to the world you are saying “here I am and this is what I have to say”. Therefore, a consistent approach in the presentation of your vision and style will help to build brand awareness. Another aspect of this is to explore what your vision and style actually is.

There certain pictures of mine that I say to myself “that is definitely an Andy Beel picture” in terms of its subject, style and mood.
Give your viewers you.

2 Choose pictures with emotional engagement

If you want your pictures to be remembered they will need to talk to the viewer at an emotional level. We all see thousands of pictures every day and most of them are lost within milliseconds. To make an impact that has a lasting effect you’re picture must go deeper than a mere record.

Aspects of emotional engagement – describing to the viewer what you saw and felt at the time of taking the picture. If you did not feel any emotional response then that will be impossible to relate to the viewer later.

3 Choose pictures that can be cropped to the output style

When we are looking for pictures to edit, the output location needs to be taken into account. We now live in a photo world where the aspect ratio of pictures is predetermined by the online format we intend to use.

For example, if we are selecting pictures for a Facebook post any selected candidate must ideally fit within the approximate Facebook aspect ratio of 2 x 1. (1200x630px). If your original picture is a 3 x 2 aspect ratio Facebook will automatically crop the top and bottom. This can very easily lose the main subject of the picture.

Here is a link to my Andy Beel FRPS PAge on Facebook


photo selection tips


Your picture may be intended for Instagram where the favoured aspect ratio is 1×1. Another example would be on your blog or website choices have you made and the need to continue consistency.

My preferred picture editing software is currently Lightroom and I have set up preset crop aspect ratios to meet my output needs.

Here is a Link to my Instagram page

4 Attraction

The essence of attraction is the reason why you picked up the camera to record a picture. It is the essence of attraction that you want to relate to the viewer as something of significance to you and them. You are the viewer’s eyes. What is it about the subject matter that you find significant and will be of interest to the viewer?

This is the first and most important step in editing your picture it must get past the Attraction stage.

5 Background

If the picture gets past the first stage of Attraction with the dominant subject matter possibly in the foreground of the picture, how is the background helping to tell the same story as the foreground? In many cases, it will be selecting the picture that was taken at the most appropriate time to bring the background and foreground together.

Also in this category background comes the scratchy problem of distractions that lurk at the edges of the picture or may be in the background. Again it is a matter of perception and timing. Can distractions easily be cropped or cloned out? If not, choose a different picture.

photo selection tips
6 Composition

Every time you press the shutter release button is an opportunity to get a picture right or wrong. Therefore, the more frames you have of your chosen subject the greater chance of getting what you want is increased. That does not necessarily mean using a burst of pictures because all that does is it creates a huge number of shots to choose from later.

Just before pressing the shutter release is an opportunity to make minor alterations in the picture composition to add strength, order and subject dominance.

7 Depth of Field

Does the selected depth of field add or detract from the picture that you intend to work on? Too much depth of field will give prominence to a non-relevant background. Too little depth of field will not provide relevance between background and foreground because the background may be a total blur.

photo selection tips
8 Exposure

Expose for the highlights and process for the shadows. A vastly underexposed picture may have noise issues be dealt with. A very overexposed picture may be losing detail in the highlights. Low contrast pictures in the camera are good because this makes postprocessing easier.



10 Gently press the shutter release

When viewed at 100% magnification does the picture show any sign of camera shake? If so, it should be rejected. There is, of course, a contrary argument to the last sentence. If your intention was to create blurry pictures there is no point in looking for pictures that are semi-sharp or not in a consistent style.


9 Focus

Is the point of sharp focus in the right place – on the significant subject matter? If it isn’t it cannot be moved, is there another picture with the focus on the right spot? Your camera does not know you or love you, it cannot think for you, it can only guess at your intentions. You the photographer need to be in charge of where the sharp point of focus is placed.



With these photo selections tips, I have included the mnemonic from the ABC of CameraWork Manual as a way of thinking about selecting pictures for editing. I also noted that editing pictures – the process of weeding out the weak to find the pictures with strength, order, subject dominance and most of all emotional engagement.

Get your copy of The ABC of CameraWork Workshop Manual

The ABC Manual unravels

  • Getting the picture right in the camera
  • How to reduce the number of wasted shots
  • How to make photo selecting and postprocessing easier
photo selection tips
The feature picture at the top of this post

Europoort – The Netherlands. This picture was taken from The Hooke of Holland in April 2013.

Keep watching my blog for news of an industrial and architectural workshop in The Netherlands next March.