Yesterday I was preparing my cameras and equipment for a photoshoot I had last night, and as I was checking my memory cards I realized that I hadn’t curated my photos from my trip to Toronto for my Hall of Fame induction back in August.

Now may think this strange, except for the fact that I rotate somewhere between 6 -8 memory cards through my four cameras at any given time, so it was during the review process that I realized I had about 500 photos to curate.

I think it depends on the photographer, but some either love the photoshoot phase and not enjoy the curation process or vice versa…

Admittedly it’s fun to work with people, location, and lighting to create something amazing, but it’s not every element is in your favour and so sometimes you need some help during the curation phase to get them just right.

With some 400,000 photos now in my files it can be a bit daunting when trying to look for a specific photo.

Part of my curation process is to add meta-tags to my photos which assists in the search process, but I add these tags at the macro level (i.e., the country, location, event, and other important aspects of the shoot).

More often than not I find myself looking for photos to use with one of my essays that enhance the messaging that I want to achieve…. This takes time!

This part of the curation process can be time consuming, but necessary especially if it’s a past client looking for a specific photo.

My most difficult curation process was when I was preparing my second book (Una Storia d’amore – My Love Story) which features exclusively my photos from the many trips to Italy that I’ve made over the years.

Starting with 30,000 photos of Italy alone, it took me almost five months to curate these down to the best 190 photos for the book.

Yes, a labour of love!

I think it was particularly difficult because as I reviewed each photo, I had to weigh it up against all the photos for that region and determine in my mind eye if it was one of the best and most worthy in order for it to graduate to the next curation review…

Indeed, by the end of the curation process I had become ruthless in order to hit the number, but I could have easily published three or four more books with equally as awesome photos.

Each photo in the book has to tell a story unto itself.

I suppose in general terms it’s really no different to curating a photoshoot for a client.

Often choosing the best photos is deep in the details, and perhaps not evident to the untrained eye as on the surface two photos may equally be great and look generally the same.

Not so, if you’re looking carefully.

Hence, this is where the time is spent.  The ratio I usually end up with is somewhere about 1:1.6 in terms of time spent.  For every one hour I spend shooting, I spend on average approximately 1.6 hours curating.

Clearly, some photos if taken well and with the right light and set up require virtually no curation whatsoever.  Definitely not a drain on time or effort.

Irrespective, as a photographer you still need to review each shot to ensure the quality for your client.

It’s impossible to take on face value that everything is perfect, you still need to review and check off a few vital aspects.

Here is what I’m looking for in my photos during the curation process:

  1. Noise level (fuzziness of the image and ensuring that there is no graininess to the images is key)
  2. Light (minimizing glare, shiny spots – particularly on the face or other focal points in the photo)
  3. Colour (looking for natural colours, depending on the lighting and background sometimes the colours can be washed out or overly bright.  Tweaking this can be useful to highlight the subject
  4. Alignment (ensuring that the subject is aligned is key.  Important to note that this doesn’t necessarily mean straight or vertical per see)

This all works with the assumption that I have captured the subject clearly (in focus).

During a photoshoot I like to shoot in two ways.  The first is with a tripod to ensure there is no shake or vibration in the shots which is ideal for portraits or family group photos.

However, often the best photos are those that you take serendipitously often capturing a laugh, smile or gesture that relates perfectly for the subject.

It’s this essence that you’re looking for as a photographer.

Let’s face it anyone can take a photo, but can you capture the moment that draws on the subject to tell a story.

This is what I’m looking for.  That moment that could tell a story…

Discovering and portraying the real subject.  Not necessarily looking for perfection but the reality and depth of the subject in that moment.

I guess this is why I’m a photographer and artist.

Photography is a passion as I’m able to create something unique, beautiful, and thought provoking all within a single image.

Next time you’re looking at my photography just take a moment to linger and look for yourself.

Until next week