How Do You Know Which Photos to Keep or Ditch?

In photography, one of the most challenging tasks we have:

How do we know whether we should keep or ditch a certain photo?

This is what inspired me to build ARS BETA with my friend Kevin, Cindy, and Annette, to make a photography platform which helps you select your best photos!

Help me, I’m drowning!

I love modern and digital/phone photography. But this is the problem— we have TOO MANY photos to choose from. The difficulty and challenging is knowing which photos are worth keeping, and which photos we should ditch, or let die on our hard-drives/disappear into the digital ether.

The art of editing (image selection)

Generally speaking, I think the binary of keeping or ditching is good. It’s the most simple way to approach image-selection and editing in photography.

Some ideas:

First of all, don’t fear that you might miss out some good photos. Don’t feel photo FOMO (fear of missing out). Sometimes we waste too much time looking through all our pictures (slowly) because we are afraid of losing a golden needle in a haystack.

tokyo street photography eric kim

But recognize:

You have the rest of your life to make good photos.

So even if you miss out on a few good photos through your editing process, it’s okay! Sometime later this year you’ll probably make better photos.

Tokyo eye abstract, 2017 by Eric Kim

1. Picking your favorite photos

To keep it really simple, only pick the photos you like best.

In Lightroom, use the hotkey “P” to Pick your favorite photos.


eric kim cubism - side by side laughing lady nyc

eric kim laughing lady cubist

I generally recommend looking at your photos in the grid view (Hotkey G) to see your photos as small thumbnails, then press L twice to turn off the Lights, then look at your photos in a grid view, with 3 photos horizontally. Then based on small thumbnails, pick the photos that jump out at you.

2. Going in reverse

Laughing couple. Brick Lane, London 2018
Laughing couple. Brick Lane, London 2018

Look at your photos in reverse chronological order; meaning, look first at the photos you shot most recently, and go backwards.

Laughing couple. Brick Lane, London 2018
Laughing couple. Brick Lane, London 2018


Generally speaking, if you see an interesting scene and you’ve taken many photos of the scene, your best composition is generally towards the end. Thus, it is more effective to look at your photos in backwards order, to save your time to look at fewer photos!

3. When in doubt, throw it out.

Contact sheet. Laughing Paris.
Contact sheet. Laughing Paris.

If you’re not sure whether the photo is good or not, ditch it.

This is my rationale:

With digital photography, you will take millions of photos. You don’t need to show the world millions of photos; only show your best!

Laughing man in Paris. 2015.
Laughing man in Paris. 2015.

When you look at a photo and you’re not sure whether it is a good photo or not, most likely it is a bad photo.

Only show your best photos.

If you know you got a good photo, it will be obvious; it will punch you in the gut.

Keep or ditch?

For more help keeping or ditching your photos, upload it to ARSBETA.COM >

Learn more about ARS BETA >