Selecting My Top Ten Photos for 2015 (Podcast 504)

2015 Top Ten Third Pass

Selecting My Top Ten Photos for 2015 (Podcast 504)

As has been my tradition since 2007, I have taken some time over the past week to reflect on the images I have made during 2015, and worked through the process of editing down my favorites to just 10 images. Today I’m going to share my thoughts on the process, as I believe this is a valuable exercise for photographers to do each year.

Developing the ability to whittle down a collection of images to a finite number is a skill that photographers all need to develop or maintain. If you haven’t tried this yourself, you might think it’s pretty easy, but it really isn’t. I often ask people to provide me with say 5 images, and the majority of the time, I get 1o or 20 back. In an informal situation this is fine. I sometimes provide more images than I’m ask for to give the other party options, but I only do this when I know that the other person will be OK with that.

In a professional situation, if you are asked for 5 images, and you provide ten, it shows a lack of discipline in your work. It also sends a message that you think your time is more important than the person requesting the images. After all, if you don’t spend the time required to get your selection to the required number, you are pushing this task onto the other person, and that’s disrespectful. Generally, in a professional environment, if the person requesting the images wants options, they’ll include that in the number that they request. They might ask for say ten images, but only intend to use five. Either way, develop the skill to provide the number requested.

If you are going to do this “top ten” style exercise for yourself, I recommend you set your number before you start. I like ten. Top ten lists are popular, and it just feels good. You could do more or less, but the most I would go to is twelve, as that’s one per month. A dozen. It’s another good number. If you go for a larger number than twelve, you’re being too easy on yourself and won’t learn as much from the process.

Another thing that I’ve done in the past is done multiple top tens, one for nature and wildlife, and another for people photography, but if I’m totally honest, that was just a cop-out on my part. It was probably too difficult to get my selection down, so I gave in to the temptation to increase my numbers. I won’t be doing that this year, although if you do work in a number of totally different fields of photography, it could be an option. I just recommend that you set your goal before you start, and stick to it.

My Lightroom Selection Process

To start my selection process, I created a Collection Set simply numbered 2015 in Lightroom under my Top Tens Collection Set. Under that Collection Set, I created my first Collection called First Pass, and made it my Target Selection, which adds a + symbol to the right of the Collection name. With that set up, I navigated to the folder that contains all of my best work from 2015, and filtered out all of my two star images, because they are the originals of any photos that I have made a copy of, to work on them in Silver Efex Pro or Color Efex Pro, or in Photoshop etc.

Anything that causes me to create a copy means that I also copy my original raw file to my 2015 Finals folder and mark it with two stars. So, showing three stars or above, I went through this folder hitting the “B” key on my keyboard for any image that I like enough to consider it for my 2015 top ten. The B key adds the selected image to the Target Collection, which we just created and specified. Once I’ve gone through the entire folder, I’ll create a second collection called second pass, and repeat this process until I reach my final ten.

My Thought Process

As I went through the images for my first pass, I had a few feelings that I’d like to share with you, as I think this is an important part of the learning process.

I started making my decision based on the thumbnail view, which I found really easy to do for images that I’ve continuously gone back to through the year, but this didn’t work so well for my wildlife work. I felt that to make a decision for my wildlife work, I had to go in and view the images at full size to feel the connection needed to add them to my First Pass. There were a few favorites that would have made it to the first pass just from the thumbnail, but I felt compelled to add more when viewing the wildlife images larger.

What I noticed though, was that even as I was adding some of these wildlife images, I knew that they wouldn’t make the final cut. My thought process was, OK, so I really like this shot, and I’m going to add it for now, to see a collection of all of my favorite work from 2015, as an initial starting point. If I was sitting down without a lot of time to select my 10 images, I would have been far less likely to add these images at this point. Which way you do this is totally up to you of course. I feel as though at least adding them once is like giving them an honorable mention.

I have 870 images in my 2015 Finals folder, of which 693 are the actual Final images. The others are original raw files for images that I’ve done something to. After my first pass, I ended up with 124 images in my Collection. That’s about 20 more than I can even show in a single screenshot from Lightroom, so I’ll move on to my second pass. To start that process, I created a new Collection called 2nd Pass, and left all 124 images in there, then started the process of removing the lesser images. This is where it starts to get difficult.

I have a few sets of images from the same location, so at this point, I start to select similar images and hit N to display just these images in Survey view and flicking back and forth between them, then press the delete key on my keyboard to start and remove the lesser of these subsets from my Collection. I also removed a few of the honorable mention images, to get my set down to 97, and these can be seen in this screenshot (below).

2015 Top Ten 2nd Pass

2015 Top Ten 2nd Pass

OK, so I’m under a hundred, but still have 87 images to remove from my selection. Time to start getting ruthless. The next thing I did was to select images of the same subject. For example, I have five snow monkey shots, and at most I’m going to have only two in my final selection, so I try to take the knife to at least three of these. The first two weren’t so difficult, but with these three little monkeys on my screen, I had to differ the decision until later.

Three Monkeys

Three Monkeys

I started to remove red-crowned cranes, white-tailed eagle and whooper swan shots. I think the reason that I had to look at my wildlife work full size is because of the eyes of the animals, but it was these same eyes that made it really difficult to remove the wildlife shots once in the selection. Even when the eyes are closed, the feeling that I get from looking at animals makes this really tough.

Of course, even more difficult was removing some of the photographs of the Himba people from Namibia. I had a real cultural exchange with these people, making it incredibly difficult to remove any of these. I removed a few but still ended up looking at this set, and was stuck again.

Namibia Himba People Photos

Namibia Himba People Photos

At the end of my third pass, I was down to 64 images, and by this time, I need a break. This is hard! Here’s a screenshot of where I stood at the end of this third pass (below).

2015 Top Ten Third Pass

2015 Top Ten Third Pass

Starting from the beginning of the Collection again, I still have eight photos from my January Hokkaido Landscape Adventure, so I went to work on them. The first three minimalist tree shots are all strong favorites, but I removed two of them, going for the lone tree on the hill, which has been a favorite since I shot these. The Boat Graveyard shot was definitely going to stay too, so I removed the other boat shot with the clouds radiating out. That left me with three tetra-pod shots, which I really like, but I left only the one with the suns rays, as that’s also remained a favorite. I then removed a few more eagle shots, and removed three of the four sky full of swans shots.

Of the two fox photos, although I think the one of him just sitting there is a prettier photo, the one of him yawning is more unique, so I removed the first of the two. I removed a white-tailed eagle shot and the black-eared kite shot, and then selected all of my crane shots, with a mind to leave only one, which I managed to do.

Back in Namibia, I removed the milky way shot, which I like, but it’s not brilliant, and then removed the single point perspective shot of the room at Kolmanskop, leaving the sausage boilers and slats for now. I knew that I would only leave one of the two camel-thorn tree silhouette photos from Namibia, and because the first of the two was a retake of a 2013 image, I went with the new composition, which I actually prefer anyway, so that was easy enough. Of the two dune shots, I went for the less cluttered of the two, but I’m still not sure I’ll leave the other one in. There’s still a long way to go.

I really like the pink pelicans shot, but it’s not my best work, so that’s gone now too, and I have to say goodbye to the Himba lady dancing, because I prefer the other two low key images of these three. I can’t remove the goat herding shot. That’s still a firm favorite. I removed two of the three desert elephant shots, because they aren’t that good either, but I left the one of the elephants walking into the distance as I love the feel of that image. At this point I still have 13 Namibia shots left in the selection, which is not good, but I go back to Iceland.

I remove the shot of Gullfoss from the end of the gorge, because it’s a 5Ds R reshoot, and as much as it hurts, I remove a few more of the Iceland landscapes, because I have better images from previous years. The Icelandic horse shot also has to go. It’s not that special. That’s the end of the fourth pass though, and I’m still at 36 photos. Aargh, this is hard!

2015 Top Ten Fourth Pass

2015 Top Ten Fourth Pass

I actually found the fifth pass a little easier, because I now know that I still have to delete almost three out of four images. I have a specific number to work with now, and that was kind of liberating. It meant that I had start to really sacrifice images that had made it this far in my process.

I quickly cut a bunch of stuff. Swans in flight, sausage boilers, slatted room, the cave shot from Iceland. I kept the Landmannalaugar cotton grass reflection in as long as I could, but it just isn’t as good as many of the other shots, so that went too.

It’s a toss-up between the Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfall shots, but in the end, I leave the Skógafoss image in, because it’s landscape as opposed to portrait orientation, and therefore will look better on the blog. That’s my final thinking on that one, and this is a valid consideration. If I was selecting something for the cover of a magazine, I’d have gone with the portrait orientation image.

I’ve still only removed one in three images though by the end of my fifth pass, so I take another quick swing at it and get my Namibia images down to five, four Iceland images left, and still ten Japan shots left. By this time, I’m at 19 images, and it’s the end of my business day. I will go down stairs for dinner now, and try to pick this up again later. At this point I’m actually happy to walk away from the process for a while, to reset.

2015 Top Ten Fifth Pass

2015 Top Ten Fifth Pass

So, after writing the last paragraph, at 19 photos, I actually left this selection for four full days, as I visited in-laws over the New Year, and came back to this on the evening of Sunday the 3rd of January. One of the best ways to finalize a selection like this in my mind is to take at least a day, or a few when possible, to let the shortlist sit.

The Shortlist

I was able to within a few minutes pick 11 of the 19 images remaining that I absolutely felt I had to include, and the last two were a toss-up, so I basically had to decide between my shot of the elephants walking into the distance and the blue glacial water flowing around the iceberg. My other nine were set.

I’d decided to go with just the little Himba girl, and leave out the photo of the Himba man, as although I love both of those photos, I don’t have room for two of these, and I feel that the little girl photos is the stronger of the two, with a richer sense of culture. I also decided that I could live without another red-crowned crane and eagle shot, as these have dominated my top tens over the years. I still totally enjoy making these photographs, but for now, I need something a little more special to make what is to me, a pretty important selection of images.

I also decided to drop the tetra-pod image and keep the boat graveyard image, because again I think the latter is the stronger image, although I do really like both. I’ve had a shot of Skógafoss in my top ten a few years ago, and the 2015 version doesn’t do any more for me, so I dropped that too. Also, although I like the church shot, there is a definite aspect of been there done that, so I dropped that too.

I’ve also had monkey face close-ups, so I dropped the adult monkey in favor of the six week old baby, because it’s  fresh work for me, as I visited the snow monkeys in the summer for the first time in 2015. This was a tough choice though, as I find the strong human like expression on the thoughtful adult snow monkeys face hard to resist.

Finally, the bright and vibrant green shot of the pond from Fukushima has been a favorite throughout the year, but I feel that the misty tree and pond shot is a better image and closer to my overall style than the first pond shot, so I went with the atmospheric misty shot.

I was back to my decision as to whether or not to leave the elephants shot in, or go with the glacial flow and ice shot. I love the story behind the elephant shot, but I think the glacial flow shot is closer to my style, and perhaps a prettier photo, so I’m going to go with that.

For my final selection of 10 from my 19 image short list, I used the P button to add the Pick flag to my images, and then hit the U key to Unflag the elephant shot after making my decision, leaving me with my 10. If it’s important to keep a record of the selection after each pass, you can just right click and select Duplicate Collection, or create a new Collection and drag your images into it, and just repeat this with each new pass you make.

2015 Top Ten Final Selection

2015 Top Ten Final Selection

I honestly find it really sad to remove any photo from these selections, but as difficult as this process can be, I really do think it’s an important process for a photographer to undertake at least once a year, to help us to become better editors of our work. By editing, I don’t meaning modifying the individual image, I mean the act of editing down a selection to a finite number.

As I mentioned earlier, photographers seem to find this difficult to do, but in some situations it is a necessary skill, that we should practice, as often as we can, so that when we are asked for selections of images for any reason, we can go through the process relatively quickly when necessary. When time allows as well, it’s pretty much always going to help you to be more objective about your final selection if you can step away from the process for a day or more as you reach your last few passes.

If you don’t use Lightroom, you will of course have to figure out a way to actually select the images and whittle them down. I haven’t used any other tools for so long now that I can’t offer any advice, other than make it simple. If the process gets in the way, or becomes a pain to manage, you need to look for a better process.

Next week, I’ll share the actual Top Ten images that I was left with one by one, along with a little bit of information about each image. I’ll also talk about how beneficial it is to keep these Collections, to enable us to view our progress over the years.

If you’ve stuck with me this far, I hope it has been on some use to go through this process with me, and if you do this too, remember that it is important to stick to your number, be it five, ten or twelve, once you’ve decided a number to shoot for, don’t allow your emotional attachment to the images force you to increase that number. If you do that, you’ve failed to learn from the process. It’s supposed to be hard. That’s why it makes us better photographers.

Share Your Top Ten

And of course, as usual, if you do post your selection of images anywhere, drop a link into the comments for this post. I know that many of you go through this process, and I love seeing how you are progressing as photographers, and even if it’s your first time, let me know, and include a note on what you learned from the process too if anything.


Show Notes

Music by Martin Bailey


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48 Comments
  • Lloyd Kasper
    Posted at 19:18h, 04 January Reply

    Martin, this is my second attempt at doing my top ten for the year, for me this is a great personal exercise in looking back and comparing to my previous year.

    From completing this for 2014, I set up a Lightroom Keyword to start tracking my images during the year, and then over the last two weeks, I have been reducing this number from Approx 118 Photos down to my Top 10 from the last 12 months.

    2015
    http://www.viewbug.com/member/lloydkasper#/lloydkasper/album/231257

    And this was my 2014 Images
    http://www.viewbug.com/member/lloydkasper#/lloydkasper/album/179121

    Lloyd

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 23:27h, 04 January Reply

      Nicely done Lloyd! I remember your set from last year. The Brisbane image is still just as spectacular. 🙂

      Another great set for this year too. The lion is probably my favorite. What a great expression!

      Thanks for sharing!

      • Lloyd Kasper
        Posted at 07:09h, 05 January Reply

        Thanks Martin. I really love the 6 week old Monkey image. That’s absolutely an amazing photo.

  • Steve
    Posted at 01:46h, 05 January Reply

    Beautiful images Martin, as always. I did this last year following listening to your podcast, and I’ve done it again on my slightly new website (I switched services from Portfoliobox to SmugMug)

    My top images for 2015 are at http://www.stevenjamesmartin.com/2015review

    I’d love to hear any thoughts you have on them or the website in general.

    Best wishes,
    Steve

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 21:04h, 05 January Reply

      Great selection Steve! The warm feel of the cat on the sofa is great, and your composition for the Bali rice fields shot is really nice. The site is looking good. Nice and clean.

      All the best for 2016!

  • Alexander Jemeljanov
    Posted at 04:40h, 05 January Reply

    Hi Martin, thank you for such great shots, it is important to try reach next level in photography and to have one leader closer to personal level. Otherwise trying to go on top and resemble best world class photographers can lead to depression at some point

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 21:38h, 05 January Reply

      You’re welcome Alexander. Thanks for stopping by.

      All the best for 2016!

  • XtoF
    Posted at 04:55h, 05 January Reply

    Here is my selection: http://www.xtof.photo/2015/bestof/
    Last year I read your post a little bit late, but I firmly intended to do the exercise this year. It was very interesting, indeed. Thanks for the advice!

  • Wild Drake Photography
    Posted at 05:26h, 05 January Reply

    Hi Martin,

    2015 marks the first time I’ve put together a Top Ten images list: http://wilddrakephotography.com/2016/01/03/top-ten-favourite-images-of-2015/

    Through the process I have come to learn that while I prefer landscape / nature photography, I tend to include other, often man-made, elements in many of the images. As well, I took a variety of more random images that don’t fit this category. I expect that this year I will continue to refine my style and work on improving my photography skills.

    I enjoyed your blog post / podcast and the great photos, and always look forward to more insights from you.

    I hope you have a great year of photography and in general.

    Drake

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 21:14h, 05 January Reply

      Nice set Drake. I think the window cleaner is my favorite. Nice graphic elements and structure. The plastic chicken is fun too. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing. Have a great 2016!

  • Chris
    Posted at 08:16h, 05 January Reply

    OK Martin. You’ve managed to inspire me to go ahead and pick my own top 10 for 2015. My pool of choices is shallower than yours but it will take me a day or two to make my selection. See you back here then. Chris

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 21:16h, 05 January Reply

      I look forward to seeing your selection Chris. Good luck!

  • flatworldsedge
    Posted at 09:24h, 05 January Reply

    Thanks again for an amazing year of content! I’m still playing catch up with the last few podcasts, but have been looking forward to this one for weeks. It’s great to hear your thought process, and I’ve been mentally preparing myself for this exercise ever since running it late last year for my 2014 top ten.

    From yours, I love that nuanced balance of dusty grey/blue blur behind the crisp orange of the fox, and the incredible portrait of the Himba girl. The way the light gives that punchy emphasis to her eyes and casts shadows from her hair, but then melts away to a low key glow is breathtaking. Magic work!

    I totally get your note on running separate selections for different genres. For me that would be one for stock of my daughter, one for stranger street portraits and one for low light landscapes. And it would be a total cop out! The real interest of the selection process is where the genres we shoot clash against each other. When I’ve thought about choosing between portraits, it’s a useful exercise, but much less enlightening than trying to choose between a stranger portrait, an ice cave and a tilt-shift wildlife shot. It feels like mixing of genres really forces a new perspective on ones photography, and far more scrutiny of the essentials beneath each image, whereas comparing in genres (for me at least) is a lot more subject matter driven.

    It’s been a superbly revealing and useful exercise all over again, and I’m kind of excited to share the final set by way of crystalising the process. I have to say I was at 11 for ages, but couldn’t make any selection of ten feel coherent and representative until I jumped over to my Getty Images stock uploads to grab a shot I’d previously overlooked for “portfolio” use. It gave a little fizz of humanity and really lifted things, even though weaker than some 7-8 other shots who, though technically stronger, couldn’t make the glass slipper ever finally fit.

    Final selection Top Ten Photographs 2015.

    Thanks again and have an amazing 2016. Safe travel to all!

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 21:26h, 05 January Reply

      Thanks for sharing your selection Matthew. I remember your set from last year too. Both contain great images.

      The first shot in your 2015 set is surreal. Beautiful! Lovely soft light and clarity in the little girl shot too. And that’s a really nice Skógafoss angle. Well done!

      Thanks for the kind words about my work too.

      I’m with you about the clash of the genres too. It does make it more difficult and beneficial to pitch these against each other.

      All the best for 2016!

  • Steve Wolfe
    Posted at 09:46h, 05 January Reply

    Hi Martin,

    I just finished selecting my 2015 Top Ten Photographs (http://www.stephenwolfe.photography/blog/2016/1/4/my-2015-top-ten-photographs) yesterday, and then I found this episode today. I made my first top ten list after listening to your 2014 podcast. I greatly enjoyed this exercise both times and found it to be much easier this year even though I made many more photos. I’m thinking that maybe practice makes perfect :). Thank you for another year of entertaining and informative “blogcasts.”

    Happy New Year!

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 21:31h, 05 January Reply

      Hi Steve,

      The set looks great, especially the flamingo which is classic in black and white. For some reason though, none of the images open any larger when I click the thumbnails. If they should, you might want to take a look at that. In case it helps, I’m using Firefox on Mac OS X.

      I’m pleased you are finding the exercise useful. The process itself does get easier with practice, for sure.

      Thanks as always for stopping by, and for sharing your work. A Happy New Year to you too!

      • Steve Wolfe
        Posted at 10:00h, 06 January Reply

        Thank you, Martin, both for your kind words and for pointing out the linking problem. I believe I’ve solved the problem, so I hope others will have a better experience. If you’re interested, please feel free to take another look.

        Steve

        • Martin Bailey
          Posted at 10:18h, 06 January Reply

          I’m pleased you were able to fix the links Steve. I certainly am interested, and just took another look. The flamingo shot is even better than I expected. That’s a classic! I love black and white animals, and that is one of the best I’ve seen. Take a look at Christian Meermann’s black and white animals here, if you are interested. You have to scroll down after clicking to view the gallery.

          http://www.chm-photography.com/galleries/animals-monochrome/

          Your boat on the short in the Isle of Kerrera is another favorite. They are all very nice though. Thanks again for sharing, and all the best for 2016!

  • Glenn Smith
    Posted at 15:37h, 05 January Reply

    So another year has gone and time to find the top ten shots for the year. Not an easy task, it took me 3 hours this year to finalise my top ten, as Martin says its like asking to remove some of your children, even though the other shots are still in your library, Very hard.

    http://glennsmithphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/1/2015-top-ten-shots—year-in-review

    This year only Bird and Mushroom shots made the cut and one Moon shot, so looks like I need to work more of my other work landscapes and flowers. some were in the last round but had to go to make the final ten when looked at closely they didn’t stack up with what I had. its a hard world out there in the battle for the top ten.

    Glenn

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 21:36h, 05 January Reply

      A great set Glenn!

      The birds are nice and crisp, with many great poses. I love the moon shot too. So many people concentrate on the full moon, but a partial moon shows much more texture in the craters, and so is generally a favorite for me too. You’re getting some lovely light in your mushroom shots as well. Very nice!

      Thanks for sharing, and all the best for 2016!

  • Jon Stallings
    Posted at 02:00h, 06 January Reply

    Hey Martin, very interesting podcast. I don’t think I have ever heard anyone talk about selecting your top photos as an important process to growing in our craft. I think about how hard a time I have just deleting poor images after returning from a shoot. Hopefully I can find sometime next weekend to pick my top ten.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:55h, 06 January Reply

      Thanks Jon! I really do think this is an important skill to develop, and many people don’t “practice” this enough to get good at it. Of course, it’s always difficult, but at least with this, we are only looking at our best work, so it’s in some ways easier than deleting images.

      BTW, I don’t actually delete many images after a shoot, unless there is something technically wrong with it, as in, the camera went off in my hand etc. I remove stuff like that, and I sometimes thin down bursts of identical images, but otherwise, I keep pretty much all images from a shoot. This is personal preference of course, but I feel the time required to delete images costs more than the additional storage required to save them. 🙂

      All the best for 2016, and I hope you come back and share a link to your top ten once completed.

  • Thomas Mauer
    Posted at 07:33h, 06 January Reply

    Hi Martin,

    Selecting the top ten photos each year is a quite hard challange, especially if someone is not focusing on one area of photography. This past year I photographed in genres like event and dance, portrait, nature, street and travel – and I like all these different genres and don’t plan to limit myself on any. As photography is only my hobby I guess it is okay.

    Here is my top ten (without any street or travel photos): https://goo.gl/photos/8a5KEqAspmqfJxrb7

    Thanks for the great podcast – this is very inspiring each week!

    Regards,
    Thomas

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:59h, 06 January Reply

      I think it’s fine to mix your genres Thomas. Thanks for sharing.

      It’s a great set. The two doggies running is excellent! The expression on that gorillas face is classic too. Very nicely done!

      Thanks for the kind words, and I hope you have a wonderful 2016!

  • Douglas A. Shoemaker
    Posted at 12:27h, 06 January Reply

    Fantastic inspiration Martin!

    This is my second year doing this exercise, and you may be able to tell I have added a faster lens to my kit, as well as an off-camera flash.

    Top Ten 2015: https://flic.kr/s/aHskrjAXSZ

    If interested, my Top Ten 2014: https://flic.kr/s/aHsk7LycHs

    Thanks for all that you do!

    Doug

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 13:41h, 06 January Reply

      Thanks Doug! I’m pleased you found this useful.

      Thanks for sharing your selections. Unfortunately the 2015 link is showing me a Page Not Found error.

      Great set from 2014. I really like the atmosphere and mood that you’ve captured in that one near the end with the mountains in the rain. Great light and moment.

      Please repost a link to the 2015 when you can, and all the best for 2016!

  • Douglas A. Shoemaker
    Posted at 22:05h, 06 January Reply

    Martin,

    Oops! Please take a look at :

    https://flic.kr/s/aHskrjAXSZ

    Thank you,

    Doug

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 22:48h, 06 January Reply

      Thanks Doug, but that’s still returning a Page Not Found error.

  • Douglas A. Shoemaker
    Posted at 23:23h, 06 January Reply

    Yikes! Last try:

    https://goo.gl/photos/fMcoXSKyqpvA5bBz7

    Thanks,

    Doug

    • Chris
      Posted at 23:32h, 09 January Reply

      That link works for me… really enjoyed these with the colourful style

      • Martin Bailey
        Posted at 09:26h, 10 January Reply

        Interesting. Maybe you have to be logged in to view the images. I haven’t logged in to Flickr for like a million years.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:37h, 10 January Reply

      Ah, no. The link works for me too now. Finally I can see your images Doug!

      What a great set. The opening shot with the four ibis is beautifully composed and great light. Really nice! The family shots are true treasures. You are recording your families year artistically and with great sensitivity. How lucky you all are to have these images!

      I think my favorite is the graffiti shot with the city in the distance. Great color and composition.

      Thanks for sharing, and have a great 2016 Doug!

  • Chris
    Posted at 23:31h, 09 January Reply

    Hey Martin… It was tricky but here is my Top 10 http://www.mostly.photos/blog/2016/1/9/top-10-photos-of-2015

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:27h, 10 January Reply

      Beautiful set Chris! You’ve captured some lovely light in most of these. The scenes themselves are incredible too of course. Very well done! Thanks for sharing, and all the best for 2016!

      • Chris
        Posted at 07:41h, 11 January Reply

        Thanks Martin, have a great 2016. Thanks for taking the time to view.

  • Mauricio Duque A. (@jugglerofwords)
    Posted at 03:40h, 10 January Reply

    It is a relief to find that a professional has difficultiess selecting the top 10 as I, an amateur, had. But this was my first time so I tried to select the best of all my digital life. It was overwhelming and I was not able to get the best 10. I finished with 98 and stopped there. I was tired. As you asked for my best 10 and I have 98 I will not share them because it would be unprofessional 🙂 For 2016 I am already using lightroom and I am starting flagging my favourite pictures for a future selection. And now I have some additional criteria to discard or select them.
    Have a wonderful 2016, Martin. Many thanks fo sharing all your experience.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:22h, 10 January Reply

      Hi Mauricio,

      Thanks for not sharing your link. I would not have time to look through 98 photos anyway. 🙂

      But, you set yourself a larger target, and have done a good job. What you have now is a best selection of all your work to date. Keep that in a Collection anyway. When you get your energy back, how about taking your 98 and trying to get this down to a 50 image portfolio of your absolute best work? You could publish that as an album online and I’m sure it would be very impressive. You could then use that as a base to keep updating each year, by adding new good work, but you’d need to try to remove some images when you add new ones as well. Having said that, my Nature of Japan portfolio is currently around 70 images, though I do need to reduce this again at some point soon. 🙂

      You’ve already spent a lot of time on this for your year end project, but now that you’ve made a start, I’d love to see you do a top ten for 2016 at the end of this year, or start of 2017. And by all means, share a link when you have done that.

      Have a great year!

      Martin.

  • janetwebster
    Posted at 05:15h, 11 January Reply

    Martin, this is an excellent blog post. Too bad I read it after I did my 2015 selection!! But, I will be ready for next year. Seeing your thinking laid out as you made your decisions was very interesting. If you had to summarize your decision rules, what might they be? (This would make a very interesting blog post in itself. How do we begin to articulate something that often is a mysterious process.) I did my selection during one long night and put the resulting images into a video (https://youtu.be/OwWC5Er-Axo). You will be horrified – 145 images – but not necessarily ‘my best work’ – although I like all of them. I made my video for friends and family and interested photographers and to provide a glimpse of where I’ve been in the last year. I will be looking at how the other photographers in the comments applied your blog post (apparently from 2014) and will have a go at producing a ‘Top Ten’ list, maybe not for 2015 but definitely for 2016. Any activity that helps me develop a critical awareness is worth doing.
    Thanks again for all the effort you put into your blog posts. It really is appreciated

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 16:34h, 24 January Reply

      Hi Janet,

      My criteria for selection are varied, and I discussed some of them above. Quite often though, it simply comes down to which images I think are stronger due to composition, subject matter or more often than not, just how happy they make me feel. I believe that how we “feel” about an image on a very low level is the best indicator.

      When editing down a set of images from a shoot, I often select them all and start a slideshow in Lightroom, and if I get a slight sinking feeling as the next image appears, I downgrade its star and remove it from a selection right there and then. By the time I get to this top ten selection, all images have already passed that test, which is what makes this so difficult. At the end of the day though, I still feel more strongly about some images over others, and then, as the selection gets very tight, it can often come down to nothing more than having to remove something because I have too many images of the same subject.

      Thanks for sharing your link. I’m watching it as I type, and as I’m just catching up after a tour, I don’t have time to watch it all properly at the moment. They are beautiful images though. Do share a link if you do your 2015 top ten, and if not, I look forward to seeing your 2016 selection next year.

      All the best for 2016!

      Regards,
      Martin.

  • Tom Cooper
    Posted at 10:14h, 13 January Reply

    Hi Martin: It’s great fun looking at all the top 10 lists from the various posts. I selected my favorite 10 (base 16) photos. Some are part of a botanical series inspired by historical botanical art/posters. http://www.sutophotos.com/best_of_2015 Tom

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 16:37h, 24 January Reply

      Hi Tom,

      Great images. I particularly like the botanical work. Beautiful light and composition.

      All the best for 2016!

      Regards,
      Martin.

  • Derek Dreger
    Posted at 20:31h, 13 January Reply

    Hi Martin, What a great idea. My personal goal this year was to improve my portraiture photography and to learn how to use an ultra-wide angle lens. These are my favourite images: https://flic.kr/s/aHskrJwJtt

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 16:40h, 24 January Reply

      Thanks for sharing Derek!

      That photo of the two girls looking at the fallen soldier is very thought-provoking. Well done on a great year.

      All the best for 2016!

      Regards,
      Martin.

  • Ida Sahle-Dorn
    Posted at 18:32h, 23 January Reply

    This is not my “best of the year” selection, but only my favorites from Namibia.
    It was a GREAT trip, and so much fun!
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/42311603@N04/albums/72157663265355980

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 16:43h, 24 January Reply

      It’s lovely to hear from you Ida!

      Thanks for sharing your Namibia work too. It’s always great to see how others saw the same locations.

      That photo of the balloon, seemingly with two shadows, is really cool!

      Have a wonderful 2016!

      Martin.

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