Narrowing down those photos while culling can be difficult - and when you have an emotional attachment to them because of the family connection you witness while photographing them, it's even more challenging! It's hard to do, but I've found these 4 ways to do it successfully.
1 - Go With Your Gut.
I go through each photo shoot more than once as I'm culling, but the first time I am "going with my gut." I eliminate each and every photo that my gut is telling me I shouldn't keep. (If there is a photo that you just absolutely regret cutting, don't worry you can always go back and find it on your hard drive later!) More times than not, I realize I don't even miss the photos I initially eliminated. Your initial quick judgements are valuable (there are even studies on this! :)
2- Go With the Best of the Best
Once the initial photos are gone, I focus on those interactions between family members. Those smiles and laughs are valuable moments frozen in time for your clients! I know I am preaching to the choir there, though! :) However, they don't need EVERY single photo in a series that shows that wonderful interaction. I'm going to give it to you straight - you need to pick the BEST of the best and eliminate the rest. If you have 15 photos of a family smiling at one another on the same park bench, you've got to narrow it down to at least 3 photos, and if there are not noticeable differences between those 3 photos, you've got to narrow it down to 1. I know it's hard! But you can do it!
3- Go For Variety
I strive for variety. If your family session has 10 landscape portraits in which everyone has their "model" pose going on, in 10 different locations around town, narrow that down to the best 3-5.
4 - Go for the Important Things
Does the family have a special tree on their property that is meaningful to them? Save those photos and eliminate the ones around the swimming pool if it's not as important to them.
Bottom line is: You can do this! If you want to take the emotional aspect out all together, you can always outsource your culling & editing. An outside set of eyes will not be as emotionally attached to the photos, but they will recognize meaningful interaction when they see it. As an Editor, I am always looking for the laughter and smiles that make your sessions meaningful!
Joy Phillips has been providing a personalized, custom, post production experience for photographers for several years. She loves to give her clients beautiful photos.. and their lives back!