The next step is editing and rating. You should do both, ruthlessly! I do this in Adobe Bridge and will soon be switching over to Lightroom. Everyone should edit, the longer you shoot the more ruthless you become. But my rule is if I would not send it to my agent and I would never submit it to an editor myself for something I don’t want it and I trash it. In short if I don’t see me or anyone else using an image for something I don’t keep it. I don’t keep duplicates of digital files because there is no reason I have backups of everything and I can make as many exact copies as I need. If I make twenty images of a bird sitting on a branch I would keep the best one as well as a couple other head positions and loose the rest.
I edit and rate images on the same pass. I use a five star system of rating images. I pull up a day’s shoot in Bridge (soon to be Lightroom) with thumbnails running down one side of the screen and a large preview of the selected image filling most of the screen. Then I go through one image at a time and evaluate each for esthetic and technical merit and rate each image as follows. Five star images are something really special, a family jewel kind of image, I don’t have many of those probably one or two percent of my files. Four star images are again something special maybe a unique behavior or really special light, definitely an above average image these makeup maybe 5 to 8 percent of my files. Three star images are really the bread and butter of my files these are images that are technically well done and of a good subject in a good situation. Making up over 90% of my files I would not hesitate to send these off to an editor or my agent, for any purpose. Lastly I have some two star images these are images that I really probably should not keep and will never use or send out but for some reason I just can’t let go of. Maybe they are near misses of something I have put a lot of effort into or special moments that I want to have a memento of, these are less than two percent of my files. Any images that don’t get a star rating are deleted.
The beauty of having all my images rated like this is that if I am working on a slide program or calendar submission or other project and I just want to see the best of my files. I can just pull up all the four and five star images and see only the cream of my files.
Image: Violet-tailed Sylph, Ecuador One of my five star images.