How to choose your BEST images

The colours, energy and the people of Vietnam are etched in my mind forever.  Hiking around the streets of Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh on foot is nothing short of sheer bravery. Capturing it all on my Canon mirrorless camera without stopping to focus, (straight lines only - keep the pace steady and predictable to avoid the motorbikes), was a challenge to master. 
I have five libraries of photos, each containing a minimum of three hundred photos each and that's the third go through - over the past two years.  
Now it's time to select my favourite twenty photos that represent this fabulous adventure so that I can share them with friends whilst allowing me to relive the memories in the comfort of my own home.
If you have a collection of photos in your library and you don't know quite where to start, here's my share tips to sorting photo files. 
First up, grab your favourite refreshment and get started. I'm heading for a cold glass of Pinot Noir Rose" - Red Hill, Rare Hare - Willow Creek Vineyard purchased last weekend on our day trip to this gorgeous Victorian wine area.  (Port Phillip).  The views are spectacular so that set off another lot of photos. 
Come on - let's sort. 

1.Take stacks of photos and start deleting early. 

Make sure you have a lot of photos to start with. Shoot a lot of photos but be prepared to select only a few to share. I start the elimination process straight off the camera or smartphone as I go. As I click away, I’m also deleting. This also frees up space so I can take more photos.  Don't be afraid to snap several of exactly the same thing.  It's surprising how even in a few seconds, the light or expressions on a face can change. 

2.  Know your purpose.

Be clear about what your intention is. Define your audience and clarify what you want to say?  Are you selecting for a single ‘hero’ photo for your family to enjoy or perhaps you would like multiple selections to create a bright and cheerful photo wall that will tell a story.   You may be working on a selection of your best photos to showcase in an exhibition. All of these purposes will guide your selections. For example, holiday makers in a seaside café would probably not appreciate your conventional family photo on Christmas Day.

The culture of Vietnam is shown by the love of food and simply drying noodles in the sun on the edge of the river.

 3.  Create an album and name it BEST PHOTOS DRAFT 1.

Limit the number of ‘killer’ photos that you select (I start with around 50). Begin by browsing your photos in their small sizes in your photo library or flicking through your photos. Your best ones will jump out at you. Try not to deliberate too much at this stage as the ones you like best or are the clearest will stand out.  

Consider not only the look of the photo, but the feeling it evokes in you. I always remember the exact moment and place I have taken a photo. Sometimes it’s difficult to let a special image go as it has such strong emotion. Stick with your ‘gut feelings’ but keep any that you really love. I sometimes end up with the BEST photos to share, and a second folder of PHOTOS I LOVE, just for me.

Now that you have fifty photos in a folder, pour a gin, (on ice) and take a break. You need to rest your eye and give your mind space to regroup.

When your feel ready, come back to each of your selections individually and enlarge them on the computer screen. Slide the image around, flip it upside down and sideways whilst looking for good focus, light and composition. Of course you can alter any of these qualities with photo editing programs later on, but for now, select photos with strong qualities.  

A woman on the Delta is wrapping rubbish on her boat.   Her clothes are colourful and so immaculate and clean in contrast to the Delta.  This woman represent work, care and the attention to detail shown by the Vietnamese people. 

 4.  Critical analysis

This is the time you need to check the size of the image – how much information do you have to play with if you want to print? If they are too small, ditch them. Read about pixels and the role they play in printing digital images. 


Keeping your purpose or theme in mind, reduce your folder down to 25 images. Label a new folder, BEST 25 IMAGES.

Refer to this checklist to ensure you have not only the photos you love, the size is suitable in terms of pixels, but  that your photo is one of substance. 

5. Checklist for the qualities of a great photograph.

  • Good exposure – not dark, underexposed.Not overexposed. Good light.
  • Detail and sharpness around the subject area – especially for a large hero piece
  • Good composition which makes a good foundation for a printed image.You can always crop and straighten in photo editing. (seascape horizons are easily straightened in photoshop)
  • No dots and splashes – These can be collected on the camera lens, especially if you are in dust or by the ocean.Sea spray is a ‘killer’ and just be careful your image is not hiding lots of tiny dots. The larger ones can be removed in photo editing. Enlarge your image to check.
  • A story or a connection – eye to camera contact, or something that evokes an emotion, for example a hand, a movement, a tilt of the head, a detail.
  • Movement – a creative use of movement blur is often exciting in a photo.
  • Depth of Field – focus and blur mixed together to create abstract and light bubbles can be great.
  • An unintentional surprise.You may have captured a person or an object that becomes an important part of the story. This can form an interesting photo and begin a conversation. It may also form a juxtaposition or argument in a photo.  
  • Captured a special moment in time – a moment that can never be replaced.
  • You have a strong connection with the image and it represents YOU!! 
  • It's always a strong point if your images connect with a theme - consider colour tones. 


This photo was taken in misty rain looking across the lake in Hanoi.  The people sitting next to the Pagoda, chatting, on the other side is a pop of red, a surprise and a conversation starter. 

 6.  Seek another opinion

Once I have made my final selections I ask the opinion of 2 other people I trust. A mentor, another photographer or a friend. However, if a photo brings me joy I run with it anyway.   I don’t flash my images around on social media and ask for the opinions of strangers or even 'friends' as I know it will confuse and delay my decisions.  

Fitting in nicely with the soft, mauve colour themes is this incense burning in the courtyard of a temple in Hue.  Tourists were walking past but I couldn't resist the gentle, abstract nature of the smoke along with the perfect sweet smell of incense 

7.  Believe in yourself and your own style

At the end of the day, its your style that matters as it is your own, unique voice. Your own personal style should be reflected in your images through the whole process of capturing, selecting, processing and showcasing your work.

People want to see ‘you’ in your photographs. Know why you take photos in the first place, why you selected the images you did and what your purpose is. Most of all, create the story that you want to tell. 

Sharing my love of photography and selecting the less obvious.....


Diploma Freelance Photography

Australian College Journalism.





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