It's hard to edit your own work. It’s too easy to get stuck on the images you like and mistake those for your best work. That doesn’t mean your favorite images will never be your best work, but selecting your strongest images for a portfolio or a presentation often means letting go of many of those favorites.
A good practice is to have someone else take a crack at editing your images. However, it’s not always easy to find someone who has the time or inclination to help edit your work. This is where joining a Flickr group can be a big help.
If you’re a Flickr user you can join any number of groups that range over a huge variety of interests. Some groups are very serious with very specific criteria that must be met in order to post images to the group’s page, while others may have a single criteria as simple as the type of camera used to make the images being posted.
Some groups are juried. In other words a moderator will select images from all those submitted and decide which pictures will actually be posted to the page. This is in effect a seriously practiced editing process. Over time as more of your work is selected for posting to the group you may find that those are some of your strongest images and a good representation of your over all body of work.
Of course it depends on the group you choose to join as to the results you can expect. But if you join a group that is seriously dedicated to presenting the very best of the type of photography you’re interested in pursuing, chances are you will have chosen a good editor.
I joined such a Flickr group some years ago and since then more of the images I have submitted have been rejected than selected for posting. But I have enough images in the group that I can now step back and take a look at what someone else considers by strongest work. And frankly I’m impressed.
I’ve been planning to submit a selection of images to a publisher of post cards, but dreading the selection process. So the other day I went to my Flickr page and went to the group Film is not dead, it just smells funny. On the left side of the window there is a list of the top contributors and at the end of that list is always the word YOU. Click on YOU and all of the your images that have been selected for the group will be displayed with the most recent post first.
Doing this I can see that I have successively contributed 92 images to the group. A quick look tells me two things, first that indeed my strongest images are represented and second that the moderator has a soft spot for pictures of pretty girls. Be that as it may, I now have access a to a well edited selection of my work from which I can now select images to submit to a publisher with a greater level of confidence than if I had tried the entire editing process on my own.
To preserve a copy of this record I simply go to File > Print and than select “Save as pdf.” Now I have an easily accessible thumbnail list of all 92 images to refer to when making my selections for the publisher.
I can’t tell you how much time and anxiety this has saved me. It really is very hard to be a ruthless editor of your own work. Fortunately image sharing sites like Flickr provide a variety of editing options that can help you move your work to a new level.