3 Steps for Narrowing Down a Group of Photos

with 5 Comments

3 Steps for Narrowing Down a Group of Photos

This summer my niece and nephew were here from Texas for a couple days. I took a bazillion photos of them playing in the hose. I now have it narrowed down to 35 of my favorite. The problem is, I’m only planning to make one scrapbook page.

You know how it is. When you absolutely love the photos, you want to include them all. So how do you narrow it down?

Well, I’ve asked the experts — or at least the two I know really well, Linda Sattgast and Jenifer Juris — to give us tips for weeding through masses of photos to find the photos best suited for your memory books.

Here’s what they said.

Step One: Rate the Photos

Linda uses Adobe Bridge. Jenifer uses Adobe Lightroom. But they both do the same first step, they rate their photos.

  • Go through your photos one by one.
  • Give it a three star if it’s good.
  • Give it a 5 star if it’s great.
  • Photos that don’t get a rating get deleted.

What are the characteristics of a photo deserving a rating?

Linda says, “Photos that get a good rating have these characteristics: good expression and composition, sharp focus, good lighting (though I can work with that if I have to). They often have the “smile” factor. (They make me smile with pleasure when I see them.)”

Jenifer Juris added, “Unless I need a filler photo, I only rate photos where a face is showing. When I can see a face, that creates an emotional connection.”


Step Two: Chose the Best of the Best

Even after the rating and deleting system of step one, you are sure to still have too many options. Here’s how the experts determine which great photos go and which ones stay.

  • Remove Identical Photos. Look for photos that are very similar. Only keep one of each expression or moment in time.

Linda says, “When I have similar photos I try very hard to pick only the best 1–3 of them and delete the rest altogether, even if they’re good, and then I try to use only the best one of those on my page. (I’m not a big fan of pages with a lot of almost identical photos. Yes, little Johnny is cute in ALL of those photos, but do future generations really want to look at all of them? Pick the best one and use it! That’s just my personal bias.)”

  • Remove Dishonoring Photos. If you know your mom will hate the expression she has in a particular photo, then just delete it and use one that is more flattering instead.

Linda says, “I only keep photos that I feel will honor the people in them. Which photos will make them feel good when I show them the page? Often I can accomplish this better with fewer focused photos—even one photo—than I can with multiple photos.”

Step Three: Plan Your Story

What story do you want to tell with your photos? There are many different stories that could be told within each set of photos and you shouldn’t try to tell them all.
  • A single scrapbook page should tell a single story.
  • All photos in a group should support the specific story being told.
  • You might find that after you narrow down your story, you might also have to narrow down your photos.
Linda says, “The number of photos I need for my page determine how many photos I choose. That may seem obvious, but sometimes that is simply the case—I have a particular page I want to create with X number of photos, so I use the highest rated photos that fit well together in that page style. I take into account the direction the person is facing, the colors, how the photos interact with each other on a page, and the subject matter. Most of the time I try to keep to a single subject on a page.”

Why Tell a Story?

“Photos are VERY important, but the story is just as important. Sometimes the photo(s) are able to tell the story without words. Other times I may tell the story with just a title, or I may use a little or a lot of journaling, but a page without a story is simply art—not a bad thing, but in the future will someone appreciate it as much if they don’t know the story behind it? I don’t think so.” – Linda

My Results

  • I narrowed my photos. I admit, going from a bazillion photos, down to 35, and then down to eight, was a little time consuming. But I’m so glad I did it because it makes the time I spend creating my scrapbook page so much more enjoyable.
  • I narrowed my story. After starting my scrapbook page, I also found that I could easily narrow my story. Which took the number of photos on my page down to six. I’ll just save the other great photos for another story.
  • I love the results!
Here is the scrapbook page I made with a little help from my friends.
Page: Splash, Little Man, Splash by Jen White
Photos: Jen White
Class: QwikLearn | Design Beautiful Pages
Kits: Beautiful Morning by Amber Shaw, Simple Joys by Anita Designs, Summer Chills by Vero
Fonts: Amatic SC, DJB BEAN POLE

Learn how to design beautiful pages you LOVE!

Save 15% on Design Beautiful Pages

*Cannot be combined with any other discount.


jenwhite-48x48Author: Jen White | Contact Us
All comments are moderated.
Please allow time for your comment to appear.

5 Responses

  1. 360 photo booth rental
    | Reply

    Your article on narrowing down group photos is a lifesaver for those of us overwhelmed by the number of shots we take at events. The three-step process you’ve outlined is practical and easy to follow. It’s clear that you have a deep understanding of photo organization and storytelling.

  2. Nanci+Radford
    | Reply

    I look at this wonderful LO and tell myself that I now have another expert to go to when I have to choose 5 photos from the 50 I took of the grandkids at one event! You make it all seem so easy and logical! Your page is very “scrap worthy”!

  3. Julie Singco
    | Reply

    How can one not smile when looking at these photos? Kids love playing in water and your layout captures that perfectly. The ideas you presented in this tutorial will help my pages come together a lot easier. Thanks, Jen!

  4. Jeanne Pahl
    | Reply

    So who let you into my Adobe Bridge Vacation Pics!!! OMG I have the absolute hardest time deleting my grandkids pics, but I know I need to weed out a bunch of the “Nana, watch me!” pics! I’m maybe at the 35 of the same jumping off the trampoline pictures……..sigh………good advice as always!!!

    • Jen White
      | Reply

      I feel your pain, Jeanne. I feel your pain.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.