marseille-contact-sheet copy

How to Choose Your Best Photos

marseille-contact-sheet copy
Marseille contact sheet.

We’re drowning in a sea of images. How do we choose our best photos?

1. Small thumbnails

Downtown LA swear contact sheet. 2016
Downtown LA swear contact sheet. 2016

Don’t look at all your photos in full screen. Rather, look at them as small thumbnails.


  1. Save time: It takes longer for your computer to process and load full screen photos. Looking at your photos as small thumbnails allows you to scan your photos quickly and efficiently.
  2. Better judge of your composition: If your photos work compositionally as a small thumbnail, the photo is probably good. It will force you to make more simple compositions, which are stronger than messy compositions.

2. Work backwards

eric kim street photography portrait orange blue mission sf contact sheet
Orange beard contact sheet, 2016

Often, my best photos are at the end. Therefore, look at your photos in a reverse chronological order. Start from the back.

Even for movies, I like spoilers. Why? If the ending is good, I can watch the movie, and be excited for how the movie progresses.

0-hanoi lake eric kim street photography contact sheet

Also, when you “work a scene”— often your subject loosens up. And the best, most relaxed photos of your subject are at the end.

3. Which Photos punch you in the gut?

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Follow your gut when choosing your photos.

Choose photos that surprise, scare, or excite you.


A good photo should be like a haymaker punch to your dome (head), or a straight punch to your gut.

A photo without emotion is not memorable.

4. Procrastinate

Sit on your photos and let them “marinate” before choosing them. When I choose my photos too quickly, my judgement of the photo is impaired. Why? I remember the experience of making the photo, rather than judging the photo more objectively.

Don’t rush to look at your photos. Take your time.

Only look at your photos when you are EXCITED to look at your shots.



If you study the contact sheets of other photographers, you will get inside their mind. And ask yourself,

  • Why did the photographer choose this photo, instead of others?
  • How did the photographer “work the scene”— why did they choose the angles, framing, and perspective the way they did?
  • How many photos did they shoot of the scene?

If you need help choosing your best photos, share your images on ERIC KIM FORUM.



Seoul, 2009

Dear friend,

If you’re new to photography, start here:

  1. Free Photography Bootcamp
  2. The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Photography
  3. 100 Photography Tips for Beginners

Photography Inspiration

The Fundamentals of Photography

Photography Equipment »

How to Take Better Photos »

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Contact Sheets »

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Editing (Image Selection) »

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Creativity »

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Motivation »

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How to Create a Body of Work

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Technical Photography Settings

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Learn From the Masters of Photography


“He without a past has no future.”

Start here:

  1. Why Study the Masters of Photography?
  2. Great Female Master Photographers
  3. Cheat Sheet of the Masters of Photography
  4. 100 Lessons From the Masters of Street Photography
  5. Beginner’s Guide to the Masters of Street Photography
  6. Download All Articles >

The Masters of Photography

Prague, 1968. Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos
Prague, 1968. Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

Classics never die:

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