Rating Tips for Photo Editing!

Speed up your culling process and save a lot of time and effort!

We all do love editing images, but we do not like the amount of time we have to use for it. Culling and rating is one of the most time consuming process's of the whole image editing process. Here are some professional tips which can be easily implemented into any hobbyist process!

The main idea of all professional culling and rating is simply to do only what is necessary (and nothing more). This requires a bit different kind of mind set and also some trust towards your own ability to pick images!

Below is an example how to use star ratings to your advantage. This rating method works for all three different culling/rating process's explained on the next chapter.

  • 0 star: Image for deletion
  • 1 star: Image with no use
  • 2 star: Image to be saved
  • 3 star: Image for publishing
  • 4 star: Image for publishing
  • 5 star: Image for publishing (CV material)

Colors should not be used to describe specific issues (e.g. person, car, animal) because there are more than five specific cases in the world (and keywords are ment for that). Colors can be kind of "dividers" within one image folder for example:

  • Family photos: Christmas cards (red), family album (yellow), family facebook page (blue)
  • Weddings: Send partial set of the image to the wedding venue (red), wedding band (yellow)
  • Music event: Send partial set to bands 1 (red), 2 (yellow), 3 (green) and 4 (blue)
  • Festivals: Stage 1 (red), Stage 2 (yellow), Stage 3 (green), General images of the area can be withouth color.
  • Sport events: Competition (red), outside the track (yellow), behind the scenes (blue)

Culling & Rating methods

First of all you need to decide what do you want to do with your images and do you need to keep all of them. This dictates what kind of a culling process is the most suitable for you and also which of the Lightroom Classic's default profile's workspace you want to prioritize for your process!

  1. Method 1: Save all your images & edit what you need (Workspace: Rating / Develop)
    1. For? Photographers who save all images and edit images based on need (e.g. journalistic photographers).
    2. How? Go through the image set and edit an image immediately when suitable is found. Mark that image with three stars. Leave other images as they are
    3. Note! You might want to set "Reject Flag" to images that are totally unusable (e.g. shaken) and delete them after each culling & edit round.
  2. Method 2: Archiving technically usable images (Workspace: Rating Advanced)
    1. For? Building an archive of all your photos for later use (family albums, illustration photos, photo books, etc)
    2. How? Cull through your images and assign them with different kind of ratings based on the image (CV material, publishable, color tags for family photo album images, etc). You might also need to use keywording - so that you can find it after 10 years (for a e.g. family holiday image: #family, #california, #losangeles, #landscape, #sea, #seagul)
    3. Note! This is the slowest method but you will find all your images after decades and do not have to rely on your memory. Suitable for photographers who do not take photos daily.
  3. Method 3: Keep the images you need and delete the rest (Workspace: Rating Simplified)
    1. For? Photographers who deliver images to clients or publishes photoshoots as sets and usually do not need to come back to published images (e.g. event photographers, studio photographers)
    2. How? Cull through your images and rate only the images you are using: 3 stars (going forward), 2 stars (not quite sure or save to personal album) and 5 stars for CV material. Rest of the photos are 0 star images (the ones that have no use). After some time has passed, delete all zero-star images from this set. This method saves a lot of space and is also one of the fastest on culling.
    3. Note! It is advicable to hold on to all of the images for at least 3 months if a customer needs e.g. different angles of some particular shot.

Difficulties on selecting between two images?


Hard time picking one photo of a person: If you were in those photos - which one you would publish on your facebook page? Pick that one.


Two almost identical picture: If there is no difference in content, look for a difference in technical quality. If images are virtually identical, just pick one - no one will miss the other one (as they don't even know it existed).