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Episode #112

A Smart Strategy to Ease the Agony of Editing a Photo Portfolio


UPDATED: May 25, 2023
ORIGINALLY AIRED ON November 3, 2022


Narrowing down a portfolio of images to ONLY your best shots is tough! Here are two different approaches to make the process much, much easier. Pick which one works best for you and start flying through the process with confidence.


This trick makes editing a portfolio much easier

Narrowing down a portfolio of images to ONLY your best shots is tough! You might spend hours agonizing over two shots that, well, look pretty much the same.

Choosing between your favorites, or feeling confident you're picking the best and only the best (because what if someone else likes this other image better???), or feeling overwhelmed with all the images you're deciding among that you can't see the forest for the trees … the struggle is real. 

Here are two different approaches to make the process much, much easier.

One option removes images by focusing specifically on similars.

The other option – brought to you courtesy of one of my Conservation Photography 101 students – adds images by making “mini portfolios” of the best options, one small handful at a time.

Pick which one works best for you and start flying through the portfolio editing process with confidence  – and kick decision fatigue to the curb!


Episode 112: A Smart Strategy to Ease the Agony of Editing a Photo Portfolio

Shownotes: ConservationVisuals.com/112

(Digitally transcribed, please forgive any typos)

Jaymi Heimbuch:

[00:00:00] Jaymi: Hey there, and welcome to this quick tip episode. So the other day I was in a coaching call with my conservation photography one oh one students. And one of the students had submitted a portfolio of images that he wanted to send off to an editor and was like, Just rip into this. I really only wanna send my best work, and I'm having trouble really deciding which of these images to pull out and which to leave in.

[00:00:24] Jaymi: So dig in, help me figure out what should come. Out of this portfolio so that only the best images are going to this editor. So I started to dig in using my usual system, which is to look at batches of similar images and select just the best one and pull whatever similars are weakest. Cause usually that's what happens, you end up pulling together a portfolio of images that are what you feel.

[00:00:48] Jaymi: Mostly your best images and you know that there's still some thinning that has to happen. Usually it's because there are a few, like two or three or sometimes even five [00:01:00] images that are all kind of variations of the same thing and you just can't figure out, okay, which among these is the one strongest images, and which do I leave out?

[00:01:09] Jaymi: So I really like to start there when I'm thinning out a portfolio and narrowing it down to just the best. Where are the batches of similar images? Which one of those is the strongest? And then just get rid of the rest that are kind of the same thing, so here I am kind of going through that system, talking with the students about why I'm choosing what, and the pros and cons of different images so that we can choose the one best one from each series of similars.

[00:01:36] Jaymi: And then at the end of that, one of the students on the call piped up with a tactic that. They take that I thought was really brilliant. So she said, You know, I also really struggle with figuring out what to take out of a portfolio. Having a big batch of images, like in my wide edit can be really daunting because I'm just not sure what comes out, what stays in it can [00:02:00] feel overwhelming

[00:02:00] Jaymi: to me. So she says, here's what I do instead. Instead of removing images, I actually add in images. So I'll start with the five best images in that portfolio, the five obvious ones that I know I wanna keep, and then I'll look and say, Okay, well are there five more that I would also wanna add in? What are the next five best that are from this portfolio that I think are really strong?

[00:02:27] Jaymi: And I thought that that is such a great way to think about narrowing down images. You already have a folder of your wide edit, so all of these images that you might wanna be choosing from to select just the best ones for whatever purpose that portfolio is gonna serve. And then instead of pulling images out of that folder, what you could do is create a second folder that's maybe your tight edit folder, or you can label it whatever you want, your final edit folder, and you pull from that wide edit. [00:03:00] The five obvious keepers. Pull those from your wide edit into this tighter edit.

[00:03:05] Jaymi: Copy them over whatever feels right for your workflow, and then look at what's left in that wide edit and say, Okay, well now what are maybe five others that seem like the obvious best from this bunch? I'm gonna pull those into my tight edit folder, and from there you can think. Are there anymore? I've already got 10 of the strongest, most obviously, strong images from the batch.

[00:03:31] Jaymi: Do I need more? If the answer is yes, then maybe what are the next three, maybe two or three from this folder of the wide edit that are still strong enough to be pulled into that tight edit? And at that point you can start to say, Okay, do I have enough?

[00:03:46] Jaymi: Are these definitely the strongest? Are there any really unique or interesting images that I'm leaving behind? And you can keep repeating this process until you have narrowed down that tight edit. And I think that this is a really interesting way to [00:04:00] look at it because now you're gonna have two separate folders, your tight edit and whatever's left in your wide edit.

[00:04:05] Jaymi: And I think it's gonna be really easy to see why those images were left behind. When you've got this really clear separation between the obvious strongest and then the obviously not as strong.

[00:04:18] Jaymi: Now, I was really excited that the student offered up their perspective on how they kind of move through that workflow of narrowing down from a wide edit to a tight edit, because it offers an alternative. And so you can look at two different strategies and you can think, Okay, well the way that my brain works, this strategy works better than that one for me, so I'm gonna go with that. So I really like to narrow down based on what are the similars and pull out any that look kind of the same, and I wanna just keep the one strongest from each of those kind of batches of similars that inevitably end up in portfolios, But it might work best for you that instead of [00:05:00] pulling out from a portfolio, you create a fresh kind of blank slate and start adding into your final portfolio from that wide edit. . Ultimately, it's the same outcome. It's just two different approaches, and depending on what it feels like for you to go through that editing process, now you have a new tool in your toolkit for how to approach that.

[00:05:22] Jaymi: Just absolutely love it.

[00:05:23] Jaymi: Now if you wanna hear more about my workflow from start to finish on editing a portfolio of images in five steps, you can head to episode three. I'm gonna link to it in the show notes, or you can go to jamie h.com/three, just the number three, and that'll get you to episode three, which is how to make a polished conservation photography portfolio.

[00:05:48] Jaymi: In five steps, and actually with that episode, I do have a freebie download of the worksheet that you can use and have next to you as you go through this five step portfolio editing [00:06:00] worksheet. Of course, be sure to update it with this particular tip from one of my conservation photography 1 0 1 students.

[00:06:07] Jaymi: So you can either pull out from your wide edit or create a new folder and pull in from your wide edit. Just love that strategy.

[00:06:16] Jaymi: All right. Thanks so much for listening to this quick tip episode. I hope that you found it super helpful and it's something that you're excited to try out and implement in your own photography workflow. Now, if you wanna make sure and get all the quick tip episodes and never miss a single one, just be sure to subscribe to this podcast.

[00:06:35] Jaymi: I won't necessarily always tell everyone that one of these new episodes is live, so if you wanna make sure that you don't miss a single one. Please hit pause and make sure to hit the subscribe button that'll make sure that you never miss a single one of these episodes. All right. I can't wait to talk to you again next week.


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