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How to Choose Which Wedding Photography Images to Eliminate

One of the biggest benefits of using digital photography for weddings as opposed to film photography is that you can take a ton of pictures without worrying about using up expensive film. You can easily weed out the unwanted photos later without having lost anything but a little bit of memory (until you format your card). This weeding out process is called culling the shoot.

Culling the shoot is the first thing you should do with the wedding pictures after loading them onto your computer and importing them into Adobe Lightroom. During that time, go through all of the images to decide which photos are worth editing. If you use Adobe Lightroom, you can simply move your chosen images into a new collection set instead of deleting the images from your hard drive.

Though all photographers are unique and may judge their work based on slightly different criteria, you can use a few standards as a gauge when culling a shoot:

  • Exposure: Is the image too light or too dark? If the photo is just a little light or dark, you may be able to fix it with your editing software. However, if it’s too extreme on either end of the spectrum, the photo is probably a lost cause.

    [Credit: 50mm, 1/2500 sec., f/5.6, 125]
    Credit: 50mm, 1/2500 sec., f/5.6, 125
  • Focus: Is your subject in focus? Even if everything else looks great but your subject is blurry, that photo is a no-go.

  • Subject placement: Make sure to examine how your subject is placed within the frame. Did you cut off the photo at someone’s feet? Is the subject halfway out of the frame? If cropping doesn’t help with awkward subject placement, you’ll want to pass on that photo.

  • Background: Pay special attention to what’s shown in the background of your photo. Are restroom signs or trash cans visible? Are guests photo-bombing your portrait of the bride and groom (that is, jumping into the background where they don’t belong)? Are trees coming out of a groomsman’s head? Keep in mind that those little details in the background can be highly distracting.

  • Facial expressions: Facial expressions are a key aspect to evaluate when sorting through your wedding images. Keep an eye out for photos where your subjects are blinking or are caught in an awkward expression. Your goal is to make people look good! So even if the photo has amazing composition and lighting, if someone’s smile looks weird, you should probably toss that photo.

  • Flattering angles: When considering which photos to keep, you always want to be on the lookout for photos taken at an angle that makes your subject look good. That means you should pass on photos where the angle is an up-the-nostril shot, an angle that gives the subject a double chin, an angle that makes your subjects look wider than they actually are, or any other unflattering angles.

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