Try These Tips For Selecting Pictures – Part 2

Photography is the art of communication. To extend that thought a photograph is a direct act of communication, you the photographer are the viewer’s eyes.  See part one of this series “How to select pictures for your blog or website” In part 1 of this series, I talked about some of the easily recognised technical issues that help us to deselect pictures from going forward.

In this post, I will be looking at the artistic reasons why a picture may or may not be selected for post-processing and eventual publication. Publication in this sense means output to any chosen medium – print, web, book etc.

I said above that photography is the art of communication, so what is communicated and how? A picture is a slice of time never to be repeated. We each collect many thousands of slices of time, I have 77,000 pictures in my Lightroom library. If each shot was taken at a 100th of a second shutter speed that would only equate to nearly 13 minutes when the shutter was open. 13 minutes worth out of 36 years of photography doesn’t add up to much.

Within my 13 minutes of snapping, there are the good, bad and indifferent pictures.

The Good, Bad and Indifferent

There is always a reason why you think that a potential picture will be interesting before you raise the camera to the eye. You go through a process of taking and recording the picture to your memory card. It then gets loaded into your post-processing software. You will probably be excited to see the results of your labours on your computer monitor. So a quick scan through of the thumbnails will identify the good, bad and indifferent pictures. The good ones can be flagged in Lightroom to mark them out.

For me, there are three vital things to think about when selecting pictures for publication these are: intent, vision and attraction.


The first artistic criteria for selecting pictures must be adherence to your intent. Did you achieve what you set out to capture in the camera? When you are doing this initial look through you must have the same mindset or creative aspirations as when you took the pictures. You cannot assess the pictures by a different set of criteria as to when you took them.

For example, if your intention was to take interpretations of your subject and you ended up with record pictures then the execution has failed in some way.


Vision is a process of thinking through how you want your picture to look artistically and technically before you press the camera shutter. This subject is discussed in great detail in my book the ABC of camerawork.

Another aspect of selecting pictures is, do they fall within your vision for whatever it is you are producing. Were the pictures to be included with others? If so, where is the consistency and cohesion that allows them to fit within that group? Vision can also mean how you want an individual picture to look and stand on its own.


One way to describe the reason for picking up the camera to take a picture is seeing the Attraction that you find in the proposed subject matter. We all find attraction in all sorts of different subject matter. What one thinks is highly attractive others may find repugnant as is witnessed by the number of ugly dog pictures on Facebook. So there are no right or wrong answers. Each of us has a right to bring our own insight and significance to the subject matter.

If you have a certain or unusual subject matter or style carry on. Do not follow the masses. If you follow the masses you will be judged with the masses.

How to select pictures 

You could think of the skill of selecting or editing your pictures as a top-down process. For example, identify the pictures with emotional impact or a strong composition.

For me, the selecting process goes like this: Seek the pictures with the strongest emotional impact or composition, remove any that do not meet the required technical standards such as focus in the wrong place or camera shake.

We can also use the ABC of CameraWork method of Seeing when selecting pictures.

  • Attraction
  • Background
  • Composition
  • Depth of Field
  • Exposure
  • Focus
  • Gently press the shutter (Camera Shake)

The ABC can be used as a filter, for example, If the picture does not pass the Attraction test then all other criteria do not apply and the picture is rejected.

selecting pictures

Click the book cover for more info

Here are two perfect “How To” manuals for any photographer

These very well received workshop manuals are ready to be delivered to you by first-class post.

selecting pictures

Click the book cover for more info

Hot Hint

I very rarely delete anything out of my Lightroom library. The cover pictures on both of my books were taken three or four years before they were even recognised as being potential pictures. So give your perception of your pictures time to mature. The passing of time helps you to recognise the good, bad and indifferent within our own work.

selecting pictures

Do you feel as though your photography is in a rut or has reached a bottle-neck? The worst thing you can do is stop taking pictures. You may not be in a rut but would still like some professional advice to help point you in the right direction. We are all at different points on our journey through photography, some strategic thinking might be just the thing you need you to reinvigorate your passion and vision.

I’m offering a workshop in North Devon that will help you to think about where you want your photography to go in the future. You may want to discuss with a small group of four like-minded photographers the artistic and technical aspects of progress that you can make.

selecting pictures
selecting pictures

The five-day workshop will be located in the beautiful North Devon allowing us time to get out and take pictures in this stunning location. Another aspect of the workshop will be to review where your photography is now.

This is a safe place for both colour and mono photographers to learn and grow towards becoming first-rate. Participants will be encouraged to bring either prints or digital images for review.

If you have any queries about this workshop please do not hesitate to get in contact with me at or give me a call on 07970 078 624

The Feature Picture above

The feature picture was taken in a Flamenco dance studio in Capileira in Andalusia. The shot of Paola was taken last November on a How to See Photographically Workshop. Flamenco is an emotional form of dance – hence Paola’s facial expression. Exif data 200 ISO 1/240 f1.4 50 mm lens

selecting pictures
selecting pictures
Fotospeed Photographer has Camera Club Lectures Available 

If you are a camera club secretary or programme secretary I still have a few dates available for next season. See the lectures I offer here Forward this blog post to your club secretary so your whole club can enjoy inspiring and entertaining talks.