Choosing and Organizing Photos

Let’s set the stage: you’ve just gotten a brand new figure and can’t wait to photograph it. With your shiny new acquisition in hand, you head out to take photos, and After a vigorous photo shoot, return to your computer to upload and admire your handiwork. But there’s just one measly problem: you now have a folder filled to the brim with pictures! Just how are you going to choose the “winning shots” and go about organizing them? What about the “maybes”? This is the question Akane asked in a comment, and I think it’s a very good one! Many people post figure photos, but rarely do we get to see what goes on behind the scenes and how they manage to keep their computers from exploding with all of those pictures. So today I’m going to go over how I do a basic figure photo shoot, pick my favorites, and organize them. Hopefully I can offer some good tips!

For this post, I decided to do a simple shoot. I noticed that it was dark and cloudy today which is not the most appealing environment for outdoor photos, but there are some pretty flowers blooming, so I decided to use them as a background. My figure of choice was nendoroid petite uniform Madoka Kaname.
When doing a planned figure shoot, it’s good to have some idea of what you want your final image to look like. Serendipity is great, but shouldn’t be relied on, so make sure to know what you want to get out of your shoot. All I wanted was some simple pictures of Madoka in the flowers.

After photographing Madoka, I uploaded my pictures on the family computer. Because my laptop’s color settings are off and the family computer is the only one with a good photo editing program, I always upload my pictures there.
It’s always important to stay organized, so once the pictures are uploaded, I name the folder they’re stored in.
madoka shots image

Madoka Shots! Because that’s what they are!
I also make sure that the only pictures in the folder are the ones I’m going over. This keeps me focused on my little Madoka.

Clicking on the folder, I see the thumbnails for my new pictures. There are 99 of them! Here’s how my Madoka Shots folder looks:
entire shoot
For me, 99 isn’t a large number of photos(the “fun photos” after a review will usually yield 250+ photos). You’ll notice that many pictures are very similar, and this is because I have the bad habit of taking the same picture a bajillion times to make sure it looks ok. I have 99 pictures now, but there’s no way I can keep all of them, so let’s wade through the batch to see what can be deleted.

I purge my photos in rounds to make things easier. Round 1 is everything that I’m obviously not going to keep because of things like blurriness, bad lighting, or poor composition. Here are some things that are deleted in round 1
no no madoka shots
-The first picture is taken from too far away. I want it to be more intimate.
-Number two is closer, but Madoka is not interacting with the viewer. I often like to have figures make eye contact with the camera since I feel it brings them to life. Figures may be hunks of plastic, but I want to go beyond that and bring out their charm. Also, the petal is in her face which makes her look smothered.
-The third picture is not only blurry and overexposed, but the way Madoka is lying on the flowers makes her look dead. That’s not good!

I also photographed Madoka in front of yellow lilies, and went through the same gradual process of elimination for those.
yellow choosing
Number one is overexposed and shows my hand, and while number three does not show my hand, it is blurry. The middle picture is closer to what I had in mind, so I kept it.

I should also add that holding the figure while photographing it is not the best idea, so I put her on top of a tripod for the other shots.

After round 1, I’m left with what I call the “finalists”. The finalists all have good composition, lighting, and focus, but I still need to narrow them down to get my “winners”. Keeping all of them is certainly an option, but I prefer to keep only the best since I feel it has more impact on the viewer. Scrolling through a gallery of pictures that are almost all the same becomes increasingly boring, and having one amazing picture that shows your best is much better than a thousand maybes.

Viewing the finalists, I’m left with several images that are only slightly different. choosing between two
These two were similar, but I chose the second picture because it excludes background distractions(see the paper in the corner?) and puts more focus on my star Madoka.

yellow finalists
There are also two lily pictures. The first draws attention to Madoka like I wanted, but Madoka’s upward gaze in the second photo introduces a different feeling to the image that I was not anticipating. This picture was not my first choice, but I decide to keep it and see how it looks after editing.

Editing? That’s right! Although editing is not required, I always run my pictures through a photo editor just to see if it makes them better. Good editing can even save a picture that you thought was bad!
pre editing finalists
Our 99 has now become 5, and those 5 will make their way through the final step!

I use Photoshop Elements 8 which is a dumbed down(and less expensive) version of Photoshop. Since I shoot in JPEG and do little more than tweak colors, this gets the job done.

2 madoka hydrangea naming
After editing, I organize everything by naming each picture.

before after editing
Editing can do wonders or just give your picture that extra “kick” it needs. I was able to remove the yellow color cast and brighten up the image. Now Madoka stands out more!

Now that the colors are correct, I go ahead and transfer the pictures to my laptop. The photo section of the family computer is a mess, so on my personal computer, I have a folder for everything. Here’s a look at my picture library!
all my pictures

While I’m posting pictures online, I keep them in their own folder, but when everything has been posted, it goes straight to the archive! There are many ways to archive your figure photos. They can be sorted by character, type(figma, nendo, scaled, etc), origin, manufacturer, or whatever else you can think of. Since I like to do a summary in December, my pictures are organized by year.
figure picture folders
This is a great way to track your progress!
Figure Comics all go into the same folder since there aren’t as many.

These Madoka pictures go into “Figure pics 2013”
inside figure 2013
Inside is everything I’ve taken this year(312 pictures so far). Within this folder, I’m free to be a little less organized since there are fewer images to deal with.

With the pictures safe and snug in their proper folder, everything is finished! We’ve now walked through my process of sorting through and organizing new pictures. This can be a lot of work, but just what makes it all worth it? Admiring your shots, of course!

madoka hydrangea 1

madoka hydrangea 2

madoka hydrangea 3

madoka lilies 1

madoka lilies 2

So how do you organize your photos?
I hope this post was useful!

Hey! This is my 200th post!


6 thoughts on “Choosing and Organizing Photos

  1. I actually been trying to dial back on the amount of pictures I take. Taking some 100+ photos for a post that usually has about 15 to 20 photos is just a waste. Specially since for a lot of them they are slightly different tweaked versions of the more or less the same photo. Although this is mostly done as a way to ensure that I will have a least one good photo.

    I do more or less as you do, I get rid of the obviously unusable photos, out of focus, motion blur, bad composition, etc. Although I do keep ones that are over or under exposed, or might have slightly bad framing as I can salvage those by adjusting exposure or cropping n Lightroom.

    During my post processing I do another pass, get rid of overly similar photos and keep the one I like best or end up removing some images from my first pass as I discover something during the closer inspection.

    I still end up with a bunch more pictures than I end up using though.


    • My reason is similar. Usually I take tons of pictures when I’m really “in the groove” on a good photo shoot. Everything is coming out so well, that I can’t stop myself from snapping away ^^’.

      I really should start shooting in raw, but that would mean getting a new SD card as well. The old one I’m using now would only hold six raw images!


  2. Thank for doing this ^ ^ All of it is very, very helpful.

    99 photos down to 5 is ruthless ! but I liked seeing how you really choose the very best and only keep duplicates if they “say” something different. As opposed to keeping a few different versions that are similar in what they express.


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