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How to Refine and Cull Images in Lightroom

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In the age of Digital Photography, it is common for a photographer to take hundreds if not thousands of photos during a photo shoot.

Once the shoot is over, it is up to the photographer to choose the best images to deliver to clients or display in their portfolio. How does a photographer select the “best” photo out of thousands? Learn how in today’s episode!

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Think of Culling as a Series of Steps

Culling a set of photos is done in a couple of different steps. In each step, the selected images are refined to include only the best photos.

Rather than trying to choose the “best” photo from thousands, it is better to pick the 100 best. Then out of those images, choose the 25 that really shine. Then compare those 25 to see which ones are the winners.

To cull photos quickly and efficiently, follow these steps.

1) Choose Picks

This process should be very quick. Trust your gut instincts here and go with the photos that get an immediate reaction. In this stage, aim to look at each photo for less than 3 seconds.

Double-click on the first image to make it full-screen, then use the left and right arrows on the keyboard to scroll through images.

When you see a photo you like, press ‘P’ on the keyboard to flag it as a PICK.

Do this all the way through a series of images. Try repeating this process again to see if you missed anything in the first round.

2)Refine by Pick and Add Star Ratings

The next step is to show only the images you “Picked” in the first round, and refine them from there. T show only the Picks, click on the “Attribute” icon in the top of the Library Module. Click the white flag to filter by Picks.

Now only the images you ‘Picked’ in round one will be visible.

Next, further refine the images by assigning them star ratings. For Aaron’s workflow, he uses 5 Stars for images that make the cut, and the others don’t get stars.

In this step, try using Survey Mode by selecting the images you want to look at and press ’N’.

3) Assign Color Ratings

The last step is to show just the Picks and the 5 Stars and give the images color ratings. Use the Attribute tab in Library Module to select just these images.

To refine your selection based on just a few images, use Compare Mode ‘C’ to show images side-by-side and choose your favorites.

When you have your favorite selected, give it a color. In this example, we tag the image with RED by pressing 6 on the keyboard.

Now you have a process for refining images to just your favorites!

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  1. Rated 4 out of 5

    Nice ideas to get thru the pics in a systematic way and nice details on the work-flow. The only tip that seemed a little cumbersome was the process to create a filter for “flagged” pictures you were going to delete. Once you’ve tagged the photos you don’t want with the “X”, simply go to “Photos” on the tool bar, “Delete Rejected Photos”, “Remove from Library”, and your done.