Where does an image end up?

One of our readers sent me the following question:

How you choose which images to show on your website gallery and which to put on photo sharing websites? And then there are those that go to stock agencies… I guess my question is: how do you decide what goes where?

This is an interesting question because much of the decision-making process is unconscious. I don’t use any kind of checklist to determine which images will be added to my online portfolio, which will be posted online, and which will never leave my computer. I don’t use a complicated method – I just go with what feels right.

In fact, I feel much more strongly about choosing the images that I don’t show. I think it’s important to be your own worst critic. I’d rather have ten really good images than ten thousand mediocre ones. If a photo isn’t good enough, it gets tossed out.

That said, I’ll try to provide a basic overview of my decision-making process for where images end up. For what it’s worth…

My online portfolio is home to landscape photos, macro and detail shots, and nature images. You’ll find the occasional small animal or insect there, but not much that isn’t a part of the natural world.

Beauty in the Desert - Varina Patel

I am known, primarily, as a nature photographer – so although I shoot all kinds of photos, you won’t find stock shots or portraits in my portfolio. They go directly to stock agencies – and most people who know my work don’t even know that I shoot for stock as well.

I do have a special showcase page on my prints website that is reserved for my favorite images – and there you’ll find shots that just make me particularly happy. It’s the default gallery when you go to my site.

Kilauea Lava Flow, Big Island - Hawai'i, USA

When I want to post on a photo sharing or networking site, I’ll probably choose some of my recent favorites. Something from a recent trip – so friends and fans can see what I’ve been working on – or something I was playing with recently.

And then there are competitions. This is a whole different ball game. I choose competition photos for impact. A technically perfect image isn’t enough – if you want to win, you need to choose a photo that jumps out and calls for attention.

So – there it is. Nothing mysterious here. I prepare a photo, decide if it’s worth showing to the world, and if I think it is, I get it ready to add to my portfolio. When I feel like sharing something, I’ll grab whatever catches my eye that day – and when I want something with some extra pop, I’ll put a little more time into my selection process. It’s as simple as that. 🙂

About Author Varina Patel

There is nothing more remarkable to me than the power of nature. It is both cataclysmic and subtle. Slow and continuous erosion by water and wind can create landscapes every bit as astonishing as those shaped by catastrophic events – and minuscule details can be as breathtaking as grand vistas that stretch from one horizon to the other. Nature is incredibly diverse. Burning desert sands and mossy riverbanks… Brilliant sunbeams and fading alpenglow… Silent snowfall and raging summer storms… Each offers a unique opportunity. I am irresistibly drawn to the challenge of finding my next photograph, and mastering the skills required to capture it effectively.