Editing can be hard - getting a second opinion can help

From time to time I enter the various assignment contests here, usually adding anywhere from one to a handful of photos. Much of the time, they are rejected because the editors were looking for "something a little more elaborate." A couple have made it, but my track record is such that I only enter with some trepidation.

Then came the smartphone assignment contest. I've been using my iPhone a lot and absolutely love having a camera with me all the time. I sometimes use it to take a few photos even when I have the rest of my gear with me - to get the GPS coordinates or just so I've got something fast - often something I can upload to Facebook or send to friends & family.

Other sites take iPhone photos now too, but I hadn't uploaded any of mine for sale anywhere, so I figured why not give the assignment a try? But with so many photos to choose from and no theme, I wasn't sure where to start.

I narrowed down my choices to about 40 photos - enough to fit on two pages of photo paper as contact sheets, and tried to narrow my choices further. I'd showed my husband some of them on my 27" iMac - if they looked good that big I wasn't worried about quality - but which ones would make good assignment pix? I was tempted to go with only photos of people, but he liked a lot of other ones, so I wasn't sure.

Sometimes it's really hard to edit your own work - I don't mean tweaking them in Photoshop or other software - I mean deciding which are keepers - which should go out to magazine editors - which should go to stock sites - RF, RM, micro or macro? Unless a photo is a real winner, I'm never really sure.

That's where getting a second opinion can really help.

I had my husband look through the photos at DT that had already been accepted for this assignment, then I had him go through the contact sheets and asked him to circle his 10 favorites. He did but said there were others he'd seen on my computer he liked better that weren't even in my top 40. His choices were so different from mine. There were only two photos in my top ten that were also in his. So, I picked 6 of his top choices and 6 of mine (which gave me 10 photos since there were two overlaps).

All six of his choices were accepted - including one photo I was going to delete altogether! Two of mine were. I think he's hired :)

I think we all have a love/hate relationship with our work - we're too close to the subject matter to be objective. That's why we need editors. Either we get attached to a photo that may be good but that may not really work as stock - or we take a photo that might be really good for stock, but it's not what we were aiming for, and so we don't like it. Getting an outside observer to take a look at our photos with a fresh unbiased eye can really help.

So next time you've had some rejections - or when you're sitting with a group of photos and don't know which to choose, have a friend or family member take a look and tell you which they'd choose. Your acceptance rate might just go up!

Photo credits: Marianne Campolongo.

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March 30, 2013


You can do it by yourself but even after taking photos for many years, and selling thousands of them, I find getting other opinions helpful. Sometimes I'm just not sure which are the most appealing. As a photo editor of a major travel magazine told me, "That's why there are editors." Of course, family and friends may not have the same same sensibility as photo editors do...Maybe I'm just lucky, my two biggest fans (see photo top right which I've now sold a few times - it's editorial thanks to all the folks in the background and the venue) have helped me out when I'm just not sure which shot to choose.

March 21, 2013


I find when you're first starting , getting a second (or third) is an excellent way to learn. However as you branch out and get more experience you CAN do it by yourself. : )

March 20, 2013



December 12, 2012


Thanks for the comments. Both from those who found my article helpful and those whose experience differs from mine.

Though many people who purchase photos here are designers and other pros, some are small business people who might respond to photos differently than a pro would, which is one reason I think getting input from friends and family - who aren't in advertising, marketing or design - can be a help sometimes. I shoot a lot for small business websites and so I know that even those who aren't photographers and designers are looking for more than a pretty picture.

When I asked my husband to pick his favorites, I asked him to think about photos someone might buy as stock either for advertising their business or for a publication or editorial website, and to pick his favorites with that in mind. For me, getting feedback from others - even those who aren't in this field, can really help. You just have to ask them the right questions. Ask them to think about a photo they'd see on a website or in a magazine.

Everyone likes cute puppies and sunsets. Don't even show them those ;D

Thanks again for the comments.

December 08, 2012


I loved this blog! Thanks for sharing! :)

December 08, 2012


great work...

December 07, 2012


Briliant !

December 06, 2012


Kixalot wrote: the responses are all over the board with most people responding to what they like rather than what might sell as stock.

I can relate to Kixalot's response. Typically, my friends and family will respond with something like "Who the heck would buy that!" LOL!! Unless it's a pretty sunset shot or a cute dog. But I do get some feedback once in a while from my colleagues at the ad agency I work at :-)

December 06, 2012


Great work!Thanks for the advice and sharing!

December 06, 2012


You are fortunate that your husband has such a good eye. When I've asked for input from friends or family, the responses are all over the board with most people responding to what they like rather than what might sell as stock.

December 06, 2012


great work... never give up :)

December 06, 2012


Funny, I have the exact opposite approach. I figure I've been developing my way of seeing over the past 47 years and fine tuning it for stock over the past year and half so I don't trust any family member or friend over my own opinion. I had my doubts of attempting this months assignment until I saw the wide latitude of accepted photos so I went for it and succeeded with a number of entries. Even better, I've sold a number of them already. So I say whether your editing approach is one way or another at least try and join in on the fun of the assignments!

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