The term “editing” has lost part of its meaning because of prevalent and well-known tools such as Photoshop. However to edit something doesn’t necessarily mean you go into Photoshop and tweak and alter a picture until it’s “perfect”. Editing also means knowing what to show and what to delete, being willing to step back and view your pictures constructively.
It seems to make sense that if you want to be seen as a great or fantastic photographer, only show your best work. The mediocre, mundane, and trial shots should be deleted or discarded as groundwork.
Sometimes you need to step back and look at your work objectively. These days, with Facebook albums and apps like Instagram it is almost instinct to practically shove a bunch of decent enough pictures at someone and say “Look, I’m a great photographer!” However, if you show too much and they aren’t all stunning and memorable, you lose part of the awe you are wanting to incite in your next potential client or even to the general public. You want your name to be remembered–for the right reasons. Leave your audience begging for more.
For example, you may easily take close to 800 pictures in a photoshoot, depending on how long the session lasts. Of these 800 pictures, how many are not even worth keeping? Maybe half of them if we’re being generous. Of the 400 pictures left, how many do you consider good? 100. Really good? 45. So now you have 45 really good pictures. Do you stop your editing there? No.
Now is the time that the real editing begins. It is easy to narrow it down so far but now you have 45 really good pictures, that you like. This is where you take a good hard look at those remaining pictures and ask yourself, “Which one of these could make people remember me?”, “Of these pictures, which one or two are so incredible you can’t leave them out?”, “Which picture showcases my talent best?”
Now, if you are going to showcase your best, the ideal number of final pictures you show should be around 10. There is no place in the professional photography world for sloppy, half-focused work. Be bold and confident in the pictures you have taken and know when to delete a “decent” picture in favor of your best.
As Scott Kelby said in his book The Digital Photography Book: Vol 2, “What would you rather see–80 pretty good shots, or 10 outstanding shots” (pg 195).