When learning the English language a few years ago, the verb “to cull” wasn’t really part of my vocabulary. When I first saw the word, it could have been anything... maybe some fun activity to do with your friends after work, “Hey guys, are you up for some culling later?” or maybe even something more steamy.. “Oh, baby, I love when you cull like that...* Once I started to invest a lot of time in photography, I did learn what culling really meant: to cull - remove something that has been rejected . A term initially used for farm animals to describe the process of selecting the weakest and remove them from the herd. I am not going into detail here... In the specific case of photography, once we the photographer downloads the pictures from the camera to the computer he/she goes through the pictures and selects and delete the ones that don't make the cut. That’s culling.
So, now that we all know what culling means, DO YOU DO IT?
As far as I am aware, there are three different types of cullers:
A. The Non-Cullers: They download everything from their cameras on their computer and leave it there. They will keep pretty much every picture they take, because storage is cheap, and you never know what you may want to look at a few years down the road...
B. The Average Cullers: They will sort through the pictures and delete blurry, dark or overblown ones, or pictures with some kind of obvious fault. Average cullers will delete some pictures, but often they ask themselves if they shouldn’t have kept them. Or they will keep too many and with they would have the guts to delete more of them.
C. The Ruthless Cullers: They go out on a photo shoot and bring home 300 pictures and end up deleting 298.
I belong in category B, but I wish I was part of group C. I truly believe that more ruthless culling could lead to a better understanding of photographic rules, to better planning of the shots, and ultimately, to better pictures. Here is quote from an article by +Jason Dunn from all the way back in February 2006: “It's my belief that keeping five nearly identical photos foster a pack-rat mentality that holds a photographer back from improving. If you keep all your images, you never have to think about why one is better than the other. That means you never have to look critically at your own photography and learn what types of photos you should be striving for when you bring that camera up to your eye and press the shutter release. I pretty much agree with him. (Full article here.)