Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tip of the Day: Thumbnails

It's been a while since I wrote a TOTD.

I'm sure a lot of my posts can be categorized as TOTD, but I'm too lazy to go back and redo them. Private workshops and videos have been keeping me busy.

This TOTD stems from a reviewing images (image selection) over email from a recent private workshop. The photographer asked if I wanted to see the RAW files, I asked for thumbnails. I should have been more specific because I got 800x1200 pixel files.

Way. Too. Big.

Which leads me to question how you are all evaluating/selecting your images. If you're looking at them with your entire display. You're way too close to the picture. You'd have to stand 5 feet back to see it in its entirety. Which is why I review my images like this:

Average size in this shot is 250x400. If I need to see it any closer I will resize to fit 3 in a row.

The point is this. You shouldn't be looking at the details when you're evaluating an image. You need to take it all in first. Details second. If the whole image doesn't look good, it don't matter if the details are perfect. You got about 1/2 a second to make an impression. If it isn't a good thumbnail, no one will bother clicking on the picture to begin with.

Of course this depends on your end goal but most people would like to share their images with others and want others to appreciate them as well. But if you're just doing this for you, you can stop reading right here.

Thumbnails allow me to get through images faster. Thousands of images can be seen in 10 minutes if they're set 5 in a row. This also removes any analysis/thought from the process. Because I either like it or I don't. I'm not supposed to be convinced that it's a good image. It either is or it isn't. I believe there's a lot of objectivity about it. You don't need to pixel peep to tell if it's a good shot. If you do, then it's probably not worth your time.

It wasn't always like this. I used to look at every picture full screen at a time. Back when I used to shoot a handful per set. But evolution and necessity dictated that I needed to get through pictures faster. Workflow was an issue. But the byproduct of a faster workflow was that I allowed the images to speak to me. And not the other way around. It's not an interview where you ask, "Okay IMG_2044, tell me why I should pick you". It's more like how you can scan an entire crowd of people and the beautiful people just pop right out.

It just happens. No thought. No analysis.

That being said, lots of "code, algorithms, and wiring" have been created (in my brain) in order for me to evaluate images correctly. That infrastructure is constantly changing. Constantly evolving. But on some level it retains a purity that is innocent. It doesn't make mistakes.

So next time you run through your images, try it. Trust me, you'll see a lot more than you'll miss.


  1. Dude, thanks for posting this. It would also help if you posted a thumbnail gallery of ALL shots from one set, and then a thumbnail gallery of your keepers, so we can see the ratio. Thanks again...

  2. just addressed this problem myself recently going through images was taking too long & looking at details vs the whole image