Culling in photography workflow: Culling your Images

Welcome to our blog on workflow and photography. In this series, we will delve into the fascinating world of culling your images, a crucial step in the post-processing process. As photographers, we often find ourselves faced with hundreds, if not thousands, of images after a photoshoot. With so many options to choose from, it can be overwhelming to separate the gems from the rest. That’s where the art of culling comes in. Culling is the process of carefully selecting and organizing your best shots, keeping only those that truly capture the essence of your vision. In this blog, we will discuss various techniques, tips, and software to help streamline your culling workflow and enhance your photographic journey.

Workflow: Culling your Images

Hey guys, welcome back to another tutorial! Today, we’re going to dive into the process of selecting and culling photos. Whether you call it culling, choosing your final images, or something else, I want to share with you my workflow for selecting the best photos from a shoot. Hopefully, this will give you some new techniques and ideas for your own image selection process.

The Initial Selection

Starting with a folder of RAW files containing around a thousand images, I begin by quickly going through each photo and giving a one-star rating to images that are in focus, have a good connection with the model, and simply look good overall. This step is essential for eliminating any bad or technically flawed shots from consideration. After this initial pass, I am left with a more manageable selection of 506 one-star photos.

Selecting Similar Photos

Next, I proceed to selecting similar-looking photos and giving them a two-star rating. When choosing images, it’s important to avoid having multiple nearly identical shots that were taken at the same length, location, and with the same outfit. By selecting the best two or three photos from each batch of similar images, I can narrow down my options and start to see patterns and themes emerging.

For example, in a recent shoot I did in Sydney with model Shannon from Vivian’s model management, we had a blast and captured many great shots. We also had a talented hair and makeup artist, Lydia, on set, who did an amazing job. Throughout the day, we experimented with different looks, including a cool go-loden i-elena, which I absolutely loved. The final fashion film from this shoot has already been released, and a behind-the-scenes video will be coming soon.

Further Refinement

After the initial selection and choosing the best two-star photos, I am left with a total of 197 images. At this point, I organize my photos into two folders: “deselect” and “selects”. As I decide which photos I don’t want to edit, I move them into the “deselect” folder, leaving only the final photos that I will be working with. This helps streamline the selection process even further and keeps the focus on the best shots.

Continuing with the culling process, I carefully review each one-star image, comparing similar photos, and keeping only one or two from each set. This is particularly important when dealing with shots that share similar poses or close-ups. By comparing and contrasting these images, I can select the ones that stand out the most and have the most impact.

The Importance of Lightroom

With a final selection of 118 images, I import them into Lightroom. This step is crucial because sometimes, a raw image may not seem like a strong contender until you make adjustments, such as changing the exposure, applying presets, or converting to black and white. By importing the photos into Lightroom, I get a better feel for how they will look as part of a final series.

For this particular shoot, I used the wedding collection from digital film auctions to edit all the photos. Excitingly, I have a new series of short videos coming soon, where I will demonstrate one-click editing using my Lightroom presets. Keep an eye out for the first video, which will be released on Monday.

Creating a Cohesive Series

After editing, I create a new folder called “blog post” and carefully select the images that I believe will be the final choices for the series. In this folder, I reorder the photos to tell a story and ensure a good variety of close-ups and full-body shots. I also make sure to include a few extra photos that showcase the model for potential modeling agencies.

In the end, I ended up with 38 final photos for this particular series. You can check them out on my blog, which I have linked in the description below. I hope this tutorial has given you insight into my selection process and has inspired you for your own projects. Thank you for watching, and until next time!

Culling in photography

Culling in photography, especially when using a powerful camera like the Panasonic G9II or Lumix G9II, is an essential step in the workflow. It involves carefully selecting the best photos from a batch to keep and edit further while discarding the ones that don’t meet your standards. Many photographers use software like Lightroom for culling photos because of its efficient tools and features designed specifically for this task. In Lightroom, culling involves:

  • Reviewing each image and deciding whether it’s worth keeping based on factors like composition, focus, exposure, and overall aesthetic appeal.
  • Sorting through a pile of treasures to find the gems that shine the brightest.

So, what is culling in photography? It’s the process of separating the great shots from the not-so-great ones, ensuring that only the best images make it to the final selection for editing and sharing.

Frequently Asked Questions – Workflow: Culling your Images

1. What is image culling?

Image culling is the process of sorting through a large number of images to select the best ones for further processing or final presentation. It involves reviewing and eliminating unwanted or duplicate images to focus on the most visually appealing and relevant ones.

2. Why is culling important in photography workflow?

Culling is essential because it helps photographers save time and effort by reducing the number of images to work with, especially when capturing a large volume of shots during a shoot. It ensures that only the highest quality and most impactful images are chosen for editing, enhancing overall efficiency in the post-production process.

3. How do I start the culling process?

Start by importing your photos into your preferred image management software or platform. Review each image carefully, considering factors such as composition, exposure, focus, and overall visual appeal. Mark the photos you decide to keep and eliminate the ones that don’t meet your desired criteria.

4. What are some tips for effective culling?

  • Use a rating or flagging system to categorize images quickly. For example, assign a higher rating to top picks and a lower rating to less favorable ones.
  • Focus on key elements such as sharpness, facial expressions, and composition to determine the quality of an image.
  • Avoid being too emotionally attached to your photos. Be ruthless when eliminating duplicates, blurry shots, or those with technical flaws.
  • Consider the purpose or context for the images. If you’re selecting for a specific project, keep in mind the criteria that align with its objectives.

5. Should I keep all the images I capture?

No, it’s generally recommended to discard unnecessary images to avoid cluttering your storage and creating additional work during post-processing. By selecting only the best shots, you ensure a more focused and streamlined workflow.

6. Can image culling be automated?

Yes, some image management software provides automated culling features based on factors like sharpness, exposure, and faces detected. However, it’s still crucial to review the results manually as automated algorithms may not always accurately reflect your artistic preferences.

7. What if I need to revisit previously culled images?

It’s wise to keep a backup or archive of the culled images if disk space permits. This way, you can easily retrieve any discarded photos if needed. However, it’s essential to maintain an organized system to avoid confusion or duplication.

8. How does culling benefit my overall photography workflow?

Effective culling enables you to focus your time and efforts on processing and enhancing the select few images that truly represent your vision. It enhances the quality of your portfolio or output while allowing you to work efficiently, resulting in a more polished final product.


I hope you find useful my article Workflow: Culling your Images, I also recommend you to read my other posts in my blog at this link.

If you need help with anything join the community or do not hesitate to contact me.

Best of luck! and follow your passion.

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