Editing is a process that requires an objective eye for detail. Sometimes, however, it is difficult to distant ourselves from the work in this way because we get emotionally caught up in what we went through to get the picture in the first place.

The first step in the editing process is to look at the entire series of images. Unfortunately, many photographers will settle on the first picture that “looks good” to them without carefully comparison or even having an “eye for impact.”

Perhaps it best to list some of the issues that do not work in an image and then move on to how to make a strong edit.

  1. Not spending time with the images. For instance, if you have 100 pictures, begin with looking carefully at all of them. Next, weed out the obviously poor images such as pictures that are under or over exposed, out of focus, camera shake or noticeably weak composition.
    • From 100, edit down to 25 or 20 through evaluating composition and content.
      At this stage consider the following issues in terms of “what stays in your edit” and “what gets tossed.”
      Here is a list of the most common problems in selecting or evaluating images:
  • Ambiguous Meaning
  • Confusing or not dominant focal point.
  • Poor technique
  • Poor composition
  • The image is in poor tasted
  • Fails to tell the story in one frame,
  • Lack or intensity, graphic appeal or intimacy.
  • Lack of  a decisive moment.

This is an editing exercise. The images of two famous photographers are shown here in order for you to see how picture properties come into play when selecting which ones get published.



Using Nighswander’s elements of a picture describe a few images and the effect they convey


Rule of Thirds
Linear perspective
Decisive Moment
Selective focus
Dominant foreground/ contributing background
Ccontrolled depth of field
Lighting as a creative device

For example:

A doctor waits outside the hospital for an ambulance to arrive utilizes the rule of thirds


Same instructions as above.