It doesn’t matter if you’re a novice or a professional photographer, one of the most important parts of the craft comes after you put the camera down: selecting the best photos.

One common question photographers start with is: How do I select a picture? Going through potentially hundreds of photos from a shoot can be overwhelming and emotional, time-consuming and tedious.

“The selection process is never easy. It can take me hours to choose the final photos that I want to retouch and edit,” says photographer and Skillshare instructor Jessica Kobeissi. “You really want to make sure you take your time and you don’t rush choosing your final photos.”

Sifting through these shots allows you to produce a collection of work that best represents your talents and your client’s desires. In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to select photos using photo selection software like Lightroom. 

Skillshare instructor and photographer Jessica Kobeissi takes a photo of a model during a photo shoot.
Skillshare instructor and photographer Jessica Kobeissi takes a photo of a model during a photo shoot.

How to Select Photos 

As you go through your photos, your goal is to choose the best shots to work with. Give yourself some grace during this process, as not every shot will make the cut.

“You got to give yourself some credit,” says Kobeissi. “You just went out, you did a photo shoot. Not every photo is going to be perfect. It’s okay.”

Focus on choosing the best images that convey your vision or that of your client, and resist spending too long obsessing over the photos that didn’t quite turn out.

Let’s cover some tips for working your way through the selection process and landing on the photos that are worth editing. 

1. Look for Mistakes

Skillshare instructor and photographer Jessica Kobeissi zooms in on a photo to check for mistakes like awkward hand placement.
Skillshare instructor and photographer Jessica Kobeissi zooms in on a photo to check for mistakes like awkward hand placement.

When you look through photos, you’ll likely notice some things that you didn’t see in real-time. 

“Sometimes when you’re in the middle of a photo shoot, you really don’t pay attention to a small detail like the hand placement,” says Kobeissi. “And so that’s something that you notice when you put them in Lightroom.”

Start by weeding out any photos that have obvious flaws or mistakes. If you discover any out-of-focus shots, overexposed photos, background distractions, or problems like lighting or awkward body positioning, you can either dismiss that photo or correct the problem in Photoshop with editing.

Keep in mind that blurry photos are a dealbreaker as they can’t be blown up on canvas for wall art without being super pixelated. 

2. Choose Different Types of Photos 

Skillshare instructor and photographer Jessica Kobeissi chooses between two similar photos.
Skillshare instructor and photographer Jessica Kobeissi chooses between two similar photos.

When you take hundreds or even thousands of images during a single photo shoot, it’s entirely possible that you’ll end up with two images that you love—but that look nearly identical. 

It can be helpful to put them side-by-side for easy comparison. To narrow the choice down to one image, consider which photo shows off your style or your subject’s personality. If you find yourself spending tons of time sifting through similar shots, challenge yourself to trust your gut and choose quickly without overanalyzing. 

Additionally, make sure you’re considering variety as you select your images. You don’t want to end up with a dozen photos that use the same angle or perspective. Take some time to look at the whole assortment to ensure you’re mixing things up. 

3. Rank Your Top Photos

Skillshare instructor and photographer Jessica Kobeissi ranks her photos using the star-rating on Lightroom, which you can see in the bottom left.
Skillshare instructor and photographer Jessica Kobeissi ranks her photos using the star-rating on Lightroom, which you can see in the bottom left.

After you upload your photos to Lightroom (more details on this below), you can go through and “star” the photos you like best. Lightroom allows for one to five stars, with five stars indicating an image you like the most. 

This simple rating system can help you with the editing process to narrow down your best choices and not waste time with less-desirable options. You can also upload a gallery to Lightroom and share a link with your client to allow them to “star” their favorites, so you aren’t going through the selection process alone. 

“If I really like the photo, I’ll give it a five. If I’m not crazy about it, maybe I’ll give it a one or a two or I just won’t rate it at all,” says Kobeissi. “What this does is then allow me to filter out at the very end all of my favorite photos so that I’m only looking at my five-star photos.”

Using Lightroom to Select Photos 

Lightroom, a part of the Adobe collection of design software, is a great way to organize, select, and export photos. The system includes a photo selection tool that allows you to choose the photos you want to work with.

But here’s a question that every photographer needs to know the answer to: How do I quick select in Lightroom?

To make a selection quickly in Lightroom, you can shift-click photos one at a time or select all by clicking on one image and pressing Ctrl+A (Windows) or Command+A (Mac). You can also use the toolbar at the top, choose the “edit” tab, and press “select all.”

Since Lightroom is a beast to run on a computer, some photographers opt to supplement their work with Affinity Photo. This program is very similar to Lightroom, and you can use the Affinity photo crop to selection tool to crop and choose your photos. The Affinity photo selection tool works just like Lightroom’s.

With Lightroom, you no longer have to send your photos via email or review them in-person with clients. Your clients can review photos on their own time directly in Lightroom and even comment on them. Culling down your photos to your top choices helps them not be overwhelmed and choose the images they love the most from your top picks.

Skillshare instructor and photographer Jessica Kobeissi applies a preset to one of her photos in Lightroom. 
Skillshare instructor and photographer Jessica Kobeissi applies a preset to one of her photos in Lightroom. 

Client Input When Selecting Photos

When you’re selecting photos for a client, remember that you’re not just choosing photos that look nice or serve your style—you’re choosing photos that best capture your client’s goals. 

Wondering how to make your pictures more appealing? When it comes to keeping your end client happy, you need to make your selections with them, their style, and their objectives in mind. 

Keep an open dialogue with your clients so that you can collect their feedback throughout the process. You can gather helpful insight by asking questions like:

  • What do (or don’t) you like about this particular photo?
  • Are there certain poses or backdrops you find yourself liking more than others?
  • Is there something you’d like to see more of in the future?

And remember, if the client prefers a photo that isn’t your favorite, that’s okay. While you’re more than welcome to provide your professional input, it’s their choice in the end. 

Master the Photo Selection Process

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