How do you sort through 600 photos?

So, I just had a shoot today. Longest in a while to be honest. When all was said and done, about 5 hours had gone by and when I got home, there was 580 photos to sort through. Sometimes taking a task on like this can feel a bit overwhelming at first, like it did for me. I will break down my workflow for you so you can see how I do it. I'm certain its not the best way, some of my readers may have a better way, but I am also pretty sure its not the worst way to do it either.

The Lowdown: So this was a "Barbie Doll" Inspired shoot largely revolving around the makeup and posing to come across as a doll. Two Different Models, One Location, and I can't even remember how many different outfits and makeup combinations...

So after all the files were on my hard drive, I began separating them based on the subject matter; one folder for Sarah, one folder for Michelle, and then one folder for pictures with both models. I had divided the task into three smaller tasks. Which makes it feel easier to do one piece, walk away to do something else with your day and then come back for the rest.

One girl's folder at a time, I went through and sorted out the obvious categories. "Would I show this to someone?" (read as; is this blurry where its not supposed to be? does it have strange shadows or contrast in the image? Did all my lights fire? Are there compositional problems I can't correct?) - YES or NO. This step cut out almost half of each girls folder.

Now I was only staring at batches of 100-150 of the same photos I saw all day. It is a good idea to take a break a few times in the capture-to-post-to-exporting process because you need to kind of take a fresh look at the photos to see things you missed on your first revisions.

Once you have a set of well exposed, sharp, and composed photos it makes browsing them from this point on a lot easier. The next filter I will apply to my selection would be based on poses, and the look of the photo. When you shoot portraits especially, you maybe have 3 or 30 of the same picture with only very very slight variations (tilting the head an extra degree, moving the light half a foot, eyes on me, eyes down, etc).

This would be my final stage before deciding which images will be seen by the clients for proofing. As far as what I would select to show people on an image sharing site? I would again filter through the remaining shots. That is how after about 8hrs work, I picked 26 files to share on the internet from this shoot out of the 600 I started with.

The first 26 photos in this album were sorted after the first two days as my initial selection. Obviously if you read this a month after posting, you go and there is 40 photos - it is proof that maybe you miss things, or images grow on you over time!

Please share your tips! Even if a shoot means 40 photos all day, or 3000 - please share!

(The first post of Chris Gardiner)