Best Free Photo Culling Software for 2021
By Rebecca Bradley
I think we can all agree that culling is one of the less enjoyable tasks as a wedding photographer. To spend less time doing this, it’s important to have an efficient culling workflow. This blog outlines our top tips for the best photo culling workflow for wedding photographers.
Use an SDD for faster processing
To put it simply, SSD’s are much faster to work from. When you are using a photo selection tool, it needs to show a full size image that it retrieves from your hard drive. SSDs have much faster transfer speeds in their retrieval process which means there will be no delay when navigating between images.
While HDDs are less expensive than SSDs, they are much slower, bulkier, and more fragile. SSDs, on the other hand, are super fast, lightweight and durable. This makes them a perfect option to use as your working drive. Only store shoots on here that you are still working on (culling or editing) or files you need access to regularly. Then when you have delivered them, you can move them to an HDD for long-term storage.
Do your culling ASAP
The longer you put off culling the harder it will be. Aim to cull the wedding a day or two after the wedding if possible while it’s still fresh in your mind! This way the emotions of the day are still front of mind and usually this makes going through the images much more enjoyable!
Try Narrative Select Pro for free on macOS. No credit card required.
Use a fast culling tool
Before you add your images to Lightroom you should cull them with a lightning-fast, purpose-built, culling tool like Narrative Select. Reducing the number of images in Lightroom will save you from having to sort through unwanted images during the editing process, and it also prevents Lightroom from being bogged down with unnecessary images.
Narrative Select is lightning-fast, meaning there is no load time as you switch between images. It’s also smart. It groups scenes of images together, allowing you to quickly navigate through your shoot. You can choose to view your images in chronological order or assessment rank (meaning you will see the worst images last!). Beyond this, Select has a handful of other features that make culling faster. The eye and focus assessments allow you to quickly identify if your subjects are in or out of focus and if their eyes are open or closed. This means no more wasted time on second guessing! Image assessments allow you to quickly identify the worst images from your shoot and then hide them, meaning you are viewing 20-30% less images per shoot.
Finally, Narrative Select is optimized to work with Lightroom, so it will fit right into your workflow. So when you have finished choosing your best images, just push the 'Ship' button and your color or star-rated images will automatically move from Select into Lightroom with just one click.
Download and try Narrative Select for free here.
Cull in not out
There are two types of culling methods: “culling in” and “culling out.”
‘Culling out’ is when you reject the images you don’t want, whereas ‘culling in’ is adding a rating to the images you want to keep. The reason ‘culling in’ saves you so much time is you will be choosing significantly fewer images than you would be rejecting.
Do a fast cull first, then refine
Second-guessing whether an image is good or not can be a huge time-waster. Star your culling with a “no hesitation approach” and just select everything that is usable. If it looks good at first glance, I’ll select it. Then go back through and add a second rating to the very best.
Culling your images before bringing them into your editing tool is going to save you hours of time. While everyone has their own workflow, as long as you find a solid and fast workflow that works for you, you will save yourself a lot of time!
We hope that these tips will help speed up your workflow so you can spend more time doing what you love, whether that’s shooting or hanging out with your dog!