5 Stars

I’m trying to come up with a system for rating my photographs in Lightroom. How’s this sound?

5 Stars: Submit to BBC Nature Photographer of the Year, Audubon Magazine Photography Awards, and other contests
4 Stars: Consider making wall prints and framing, using in a calendar, putting in a photo book, submitting to nature magazines, etc.
3 Stars: Submit for Microstock
2 Stars: Upload to Picasa
1 Star: Personal interest; documentation photo. E.g. a personal life bird even with a crappy photo.
0 Stars: Keep
X: Delete

Of course this will require some review of prior work. I’m not sure I’ve got any plausible 5 star photos yet. I probably have enough 4 star photos to make a nice Christmas present for friends and family though. Looking at the bird photos by another photographer I have hanging on my walls now, I’d say I’ve shot better than at least two of the three, and perhaps can match the third.

The four star/ five star distinction may not be cut quite right. Arguably framed prints (especially large ones) should be of Nature Photographer of the Year caliber, as perhaps should be any I submit to magazines (though magazines are also sometimes interested in lesser quality but newsworthy photos.) Similarly there are some great photos I’ve seen in competitions and magazines that I still wouldn’t want to hang on my walls. (In particular, photos of environmental destruction and simple cruelty.)

The one thing this misses is the rarity of the subject. That’s important for some uses where even a fuzzy but IDable shot of a never before photographed species may be more interesting than the 38 millionth photo of an American Robin or a European Honeybee. I could do that with just a keyword, but my goal is to be able to quickly review and categorize a day’s shoot with maximum speed and minimum typing, so I know what to come back to later for editing or uploading.

I’d also like some indication of whether I’ve already worked on the photograph in Lightroom/Photoshop or whether it’s a good base photo that still needs to be processed.

Thoughts? How do you rate your photos?

2 Responses to “5 Stars”

  1. Norman Walsh Says:

    What you propose sounds reasonable. I’ve never been able to commit to a system with that much nuance. I only seem to manage to get as far as “picked”, “unpicked” and “X”.

    What I really need to do is delete much more aggressively, I think.

  2. Rob Bender Says:

    I use Apple Aperture and my system has evolved into:

    1 Star: Flawed (blurry, too dark, grainy, etc) but interesting enough to me to keep
    2 Stars: Average. Want to keep, buy not worth putting online
    3 Stars: Worthy of Flickr or my Photolog
    4 Stars: Even Better (maybe put on my iPad or iPhone to show people).
    5 Stars: My best photos (very few of these)

    I don’t think there’s a way to differentiate between unrated and zero stars in Aperture. I don’t use 4 or 5 very much and the line between them is blurry.

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