How to Choose Dog Photography Images to Keep

After you import your dog photos to your computer from your memory card, take stock of what you have and filter out any images unworthy of postprocessing time. The characteristics of what makes an image a keeper or a dud are largely subjective.

You may love an image, but someone else may hate it; that’s the nature of any art. What matters is that you come up with your own system of qualifications so you can quickly sift through your work and determine which images you like and which ones you don’t.

You may develop different qualifications along the way, but as a starting point, these are the characteristics you should consider when filtering through your own work:

  • Subject: Does your main subject in the photo stand out as you intended? For example, if the photo is supposed to be of Beckett’s name tag but Beckett’s tail takes prominence in the frame instead, your intended subject doesn’t stand out.

  • Expression: Is your subject’s expression a good one? Because you can’t tell a dog to “say cheese,” you may end up with some pretty gnarly looks, so be sure to filter out any shots in which your dog is obviously looking away from the camera, snarling his upper lip, looking unsure or scared, and so on.

  • Focus: Is the image clear and sharp? This is more important for portraits than action photos, in which you may want some blurred parts to your image for effect.

  • Exposure: Overall, is the image too light or too dark? A little bit of overexposure or underexposure is fine because you can fix it in postprocessing, but if the photo is drastically overexposed or underexposed, it may not be salvageable.

  • Response: Does the photo elicit an innate response? For example, does it make you smile, laugh, or let out a long “awww”? If so, it’s probably a keeper!

  • Distractions: Does the photo have any unfixable distractions you can’t live with? If you capture your dog in a spontaneous moment zipping around the house but the background is a cluttered mess from the birthday party you had the night before, the shot may never be a great one, even after postprocessing.

    On the other hand (er, paw), if you position your dog for a portrait and don’t realize that the stop sign in the background appears to be growing out of his head, you may be able to salvage the photo in Adobe Photoshop by removing the stop sign completely!

To expedite your process, use software that has a photography management component to it — like Adobe Lightroom or Apple’s Aperture — so you can easily and simultaneously view and rate your keepers by assigning them one, two, three, four, or five stars.

Later, you can ignore the duds by filtering out all the keepers you tagged. It’s up to you whether you want to permanently delete the duds from your hard drive.

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