Do you remember Beyoncé’s 2013 Superbowl performance?  Neither do I.  But I bet you remember the resulting photos.  You know the ones – the incredibly unflattering faces, double (and triple) chins, and expressions so awkward they could freeze time?  Yeah… you remember them.  I’ll save Beyoncé the embarassement of re-posting them and simply link to one of the millions of articles about Beyoncé’s viral superbowl pictures.  Did you know that culling (and discarding of the culled photos) could have saved Beyoncé this embarassement?  What is culling and why is it important?

One of the advantages of digital photography is that you are not limited by a mere 24 frames per roll nor by the associated cost of developing each and every roll.  You can slap a 128 gigabyte memory card into your camera and press the shutter several thousand times before requiring more digital space.  Digital photographers are taking more of the “in between moment” photos than film photographers every did because we are not limited by image space in nearly the same way.  Film photographers captured the images with purpose and forthought.  Digital photographers can put their camera on ‘continuous’ mode and capture 24 images over the course of 30 seconds.

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Image by Toronto wedding photographer Ten·2·Ten Photography (www.ten2tenphotography.com) ©2015

Over-shooting isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  It allows you to get the PERFECT moment in between the moments; the one that is truly unique and is a contributing factor to the wedding day story.  One of the disadvantages of over-shooting; however, is that you have a lot of really… well…. Beyoncé-like photos to sort through after.

Despite how pretty you looked in your dress; hair pinned up perfectly, makeup flawless and smile bright – I guarantee you that you had several dozen, if not more, “Beyoncé superbowl” moments on your wedding day.  As did your mom, dad, bridesmaids, the groom, his groomsmen, his parents…. pretty much everyone.  Forget what the images look like?  I can’t – they’re burned into my memory – but you can refresh your memory here.

Once a wedding is photographed, a photographer sits down and proceeds to cull the images from the day.  Culling is a process of removing test shots, photobombs and, of course, anything that that is not artistically or reasonably flattering.  *cough cough* Like those superbowl photos.  A photographer will remove the rejected images from the final gallery at their discretion; it is part of a photographer’s artistic standards.  That being said, photographers should (at least I do!) always leave in the key moments of the day and include images that tell integral parts of the wedding day story.

Some photographers delete images that are culled; they deem them as non-useable.  Other photographers will archive the rejects for a very short period of time.  What your photographer does is their personal choice and there is no right or wrong thing to do.  Although in my opinion, if the person who photographed Beyoncé’s famous football fiasco images should never have let those images see the light of day.  It’s just not fair.  You can’t capture an image every 400th of a second and expect people to look amazing each and every time.

Culling is a way to ensure that your wedding day gallery is filled with high quality images that not only meet the artistic standards of the photographer, but more importantly, are flattering to the subjects so they can look back on their day and remember how beautiful they were on the outside, which in turn will help you feel beautiful on the inside!

Three cheers to culling!