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Using Photo Mechanic to Cull

Lesson 37 from: Incredible Engagement Photography

Pye Jirsa

Using Photo Mechanic to Cull

Lesson 37 from: Incredible Engagement Photography

Pye Jirsa

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Lesson Info

37. Using Photo Mechanic to Cull

Summary (Generated from Transcript)

The topic of this lesson is using Photo Mechanic to cull engagement photography images before importing them into Lightroom.


  1. How many images are typically shot during a three-hour engagement session?

    Around 400-500 images.

  2. How many images are usually delivered to clients after culling out rejects, bad expressions, and duplicate shots?

    Around 80-100 images, or about 20% of the total.

  3. What is the goal when delivering images to clients?

    To create a consistent experience where every image is considered amazing.

  4. Why is it important to control the number of images given to clients?

    To manage their expectations and ensure a positive first experience with the images.

  5. What is the purpose of using Photo Mechanic for culling?

    It allows for much faster and easier culling compared to Lightroom.

  6. How does Photo Mechanic work with Lightroom?

    Photo Mechanic creates XMP files that can be read by Lightroom to import the selected images.

  7. What is the benefit of creating separate folders for accepted and rejected images in Lightroom?

    It keeps the Lightroom catalog smaller and more efficient.

  8. When would using Photo Mechanic be most beneficial?

    When dealing with a large number of images, such as weddings, where it can save several hours of culling time compared to Lightroom.


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Posing Guidance for Him


Posing Guidance for Her


Foundational Posing


Posing Touch Points


Couples Body Language


Posing Three Point Check


Posing Tips with Demo


Lesson Info

Using Photo Mechanic to Cull

Okay, I had another Truth Tangent, we mentioned this yesterday, but we didn't see the slide. Sorry, mentioned this in the foundational side, we didn't get to see the slide. Every additional image that we produce needs to be as good if not better than the last. So, in general, we are going to shoot, in a three hour session, maybe around four or five hundred images in total. In general we're going to deliver, of those images, after cutting out the rejects, all the bad expressions, and all of the duplicate shots. And by duplicate, I don't mean like exactly the same, I mean shots that are very similar in emotion and feel and pose, and they serve the same kind of purpose, they're duplicates basically in our minds. When we cut that down, we're getting down to about 80 images, maybe 100 images, for a, so it's like 20%. If it's a six hour long shoot, if it's a half day or a full day session, we're talking maybe 150 to 200 images, but either way what we want our clients to think is that when th...

ey see these images, it's he or she is amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing, we don't want the effect of, oh, amazing, that's all right, that's all right, that's all right, amazing, that's all right, that's all right, that's all right. We can gauge and we can control their expectation or control their experience, basically, when we give them just the right amount, as opposed to going too much, and if they want to come in and look at more images, they're welcome to. But I wanted to make sure that they have a good experience starting out, especially when they first get those images. Now, we're going to go into Lightroom Fundamentals. We did this a little bit on that foundational side. I want to go a little bit more into Lightroom stuff today, we're going to talk and give you some more scenes and examples of post-production, as well as produce and talk about some of the images that we created in today's segment, and then we're also going to demonstrate, so we're going to talk through develop methodology, the use of presets, basic retouching, tips on exporting. I'd love to get to tips on exporting, because we didn't get to that yesterday. And I want to take a moment just to give you a PSA that there is no such thing as tandem post producing, people. These are many of the random scenes that I get to walk into, when we come into our office. Two of my people, that are just doing something they should not be doing while post producing on a computer. It's great for a iPhone shot, though, right? I love that, love it. A couple more processing tips we'll be talking about today is, we're going to talk about PhotoMechanic for culling, syncing those changes over to Lightroom, Lightroom developing, and then also Photoshop clean up, it's going to be really cool, because we're going to actually get into the composite stuff today. But that's going to be in the next segment, we're going to do, like, show you how to shoot the composites, and how to actually process them. So all you guys got to come back and watch the other segments if you want more. Okely-dokely, let's do this. So, let's switch over to Lightroom now. And what we're going to do is just take a look, and as we glance through the scenes, I'm going to show you how we would process those scenes, and then take them over to, actually, look through how we would cull the scenes, and then take them into Lightroom first. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to go ahead and just pop out of Lightroom for one second. Lightroom works by catalogs, right, let me pull up PhotoMechanic real fast. When it comes to all the software, all the things that we're using, please go to the Gear Guide, the link is going to be towards the end of the class, it's going to have all of those links, discounts and everything there. And I right now just wanted to chime in and tell people that if you go to Class Materials, which is under the video that you're watching, that is where you can see those two PDFs as well, they're free downloads, and one is gear, and then one is the software, so, go download those right now. Yeah, so I believe we have a discount on PhotoMechanic as well, so, we like to use PhotoMechanic when it comes to culling. The reason for this is, Lightroom works based on catalogs, right, so to get our images visible inside of Lightroom, we have to go through the process of creating a new catalog, we have to import the images, and so forth. What we're working on inside of Lightroom, those are just, like what we see, this image, this image, what we're actually seeing here is not the image itself, we're seeing a preview of that image, that's, that is all Lightroom is showing us is a preview of our image. Nothing is actually modified, nothing is changed, until the point of export, when it actually takes the settings you've applied to the image, and it creates a new version with those settings applied. The annoying thing about the Lightroom process is that you have to create a catalog and you have to import before you can work on anything, which means that before you can even cull, we have to get it into Lightroom. The cool thing with PhotoMechanic is check this out. So I'm going to go out of my full screen, I'm going to go to PhotoMechanic. PhotoMechanic works based on, now I'm going to just pull this navigator up, so let's just close out the favorites and leave the navigator. This guy works based on a contact sheet off of your hard drive, so all it does is you point it to a folder, and it will immediately load up that folder, ready to go. So you know, you don't have to create any new catalogs, you don't have to do anything. Now, PhotoMechanic does not do editing. But what it's fantastic for is culling. It's incredibly fast, and if you are familiar with culling inside of Lightroom, then you're going to really like this part. If I double-click on this, watch how fast I can cycle through, and I can actually change the sizes of my windows, just to have bigger images and so forth, but watch this. If I want to glance through these, I can rapidly go through images, and it doesn't hang, it doesn't pause. I can go through and cull to my heart's content. And what you're seeing is it's actually reading XMP files. So when you see like a little crop adjustment, it's showing you what it's picking up from the XMP, see here, it shows what we're picking up from the actual XMP file, showing the developed stuff. But when you pull in just directly from the camera, there's none of this. So we use this to rate, because it's so incredibly quick. We can go through 500 images in 10 minutes, and you can have your 80 images selected and ready to go to Lightroom. So I'm going to show you the most basic way of doing that. Again, when it comes to culling, we like to keep things super simple. Simple is awesome. If you press control-comma, or command-comma, or go to the Preferences option down here, when you first install PhotoMechanic, you'll notice that if we actually mark an image as one, it changes it to purple. See that, purple, magenta? I'm slightly colorblind, people. I'm just going to throw that out there. What color is that, magenta? Who'd have thunk it, looks purple to me, whatever. Okay, so we don't want colors, because colors don't transfer into Lightroom. When you try and synchronize those settings, Lightroom doesn't read the same colors as it does in PhotoMechanic, but it does do stars. So all we do is press control-comma, or command-comma to bring up the Preferences window, go right over to the Accessibility tab, and click zero to five sets star rating, instead of zero to eight sets color class. Click Apply. This is all the only setup you really need to do to get started with this application is that. Now when we press one, it actually applies a one star. So I can sit here and I can go through these images and apply a one any time I want to keep something. One, one, one, one... I don't like the way he's puckering there, but not too bad, let's go one. One, okay, we would select out our images by pressing one. Notice I'm not thinking of anything else, it's either keep it, one, or just throw it away. Those are the only two things in my head. Keep it or throw it away. I would highly recommend, I do not edit or work on this machine, this is a tethering machine. If you are working off of a laptop, I would highly recommend investing in a good large display, a 24, 27-inch display, because the culling process becomes so much easier. When your filmstrip is a small piece of this window, and you have a large image blown up, and you can see it, you can see the detail in the image, you can see everything about it, and you can move from image to image. And your filmstrip is going to be your navigational tool, meaning, if I can keep my filmstrip large, watch this, if I can keep this large, while still having a large image visible in this loop view, the loop view is this main area right here. If I can keep the filmstrip large, I can use the filmstrip as I'm culling, to basically see what's coming next. So if I see a great pose with a perfect expression, I pick it, and if I see three more similar ones, I just quickly skip past them. And so I'm glancing at both of these things at the same time to get through a number of images, and it's very difficult to do here, because I can't actually see the images very well on this side. The other cool thing about this, if I press Z to zoom in, I'm going to shrink down this, we're running like 720p resolution, by the way. This is craziness. Okay, if I press Z, it'll zoom me to the last point, and watch how fast this snaps to focus, do you guys know, like how slow is it inside of Lightroom to snap to a one to one focus, or one to one view. Z, every time, go in and out, I can make sure it's focused, by the way, people always ask me, how do you get your images in focus, they're focused, guys, shoot 1.4, know your gear, make sure you watch it, and glance at it. If it's a tiny bit soft, but it's a great shot, who cares, but in general, it's not that bad to get things focused, even at wide open settings. Okay, so once I've actually applied those changes, I've starred all the images that I want to keep, you have a couple different options. I can move them to another folder, and say these are the ones I want to work on, or I can go directly into Lightroom, so let me just go, let's go to Lightroom now... Okay, and this is the same folder that I was looking at in PhotoMechanic. So in PhotoMechanic, this guy, Originals, is this guy right here. If I right-click right here, and say Synchronize folder, and click Scan for metadata updates, this will tell Lightroom to read XMP files, which is what PhotoMechanic was creating, it'll say read XMP files, and it's going to pick up all the one star images. So now, all I do is I just select my one stars, if you want to switch them over to flags, or you want to do whatever, you totally can. But now you go into the Develop Module inside of Lightroom, and you just edit your one stars. What we like to do, is we like to make this Original folder, so we have this Original folder on the desktop, let me go back over here, so let's just show the folder. This is the folder right here, what I would do is right click, say New folder inside of this one, say Accept... right click again, say Reject. All you're going to do is turn on your filters at the bottom in this window, so if you just turn on the filters and filter for just one star images, okay, these are all the images that have been marked one star. I press control-A to select them, drag and drop it into Accept. Take the other images that are rejects, and drag and drop them into Reject. When I import into Lightroom, I only import the accepted images. The goal of that is, the smaller we keep our Lightroom catalogs, the more efficiently Lightroom is going to run. I know Adobe says that it doesn't slow down, but it does, Lightroom is a catalog-based databasing system for images, the more you insert into this database, the longer it's going to take to load, the longer it's going to take to filter, the longer it's going to take to do everything that you're doing inside of Lightroom. So what we do is we only import the accepted files. At the very end of the process when we're done, we'll import the rejects, so that we can create those exported rejects that we talked about, where we'll just save out the JPEG files, and delete the RAWs once the client has been satisfied basically with our delivery. This all makes sense, so super easy, very quick culling on this side. By the way, if you're dealing with like 50 images, 30 images for a shoot, if you're doing smaller shoots, it doesn't necessarily make sense to go from PhotoMechanic to Lightroom. At about 3, 4, 500 images plus, that's when you start to see 10, 15, 20, 30 minute savings from there, from a wedding, you're going to see like one, two, three hours worth of savings. And doing, like, several thousand images, of culling in PhotoMechanic versus Lightroom.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Pre-Shoot Videos
Keynote 1
Keynote 2
Presets Installation Guide
Gear Guide
Favorite Software
Lightroom Presets

Ratings and Reviews

CPR Photography

I think Pye Jirsa is one of the best, if not the best, instructor for photography on Creative Live. He is very personable, smart and approachable. He has a perfect blend of personality (comments, laughs, tangents..) to the amount of instruction. He asks the questions for you, because he knows you are thinking those questions right then. He's very good about identifying settings, gear, etc.. and not leaving us in the dark about how he "got the shot". He goes into great detail. His instructions flow, but are linear, which is helpful. He's very organized, and you can tell that he really put a lot of work into his presentations (slides, video, test shoots, live teaching, graphics, etc..) I have been listening to him for like 10 hours straight, and still haven't gotten tired of him. He keeps things moving, He's very funny too. Nice job, I've learned so much. :)

a Creativelive Student

This course was AMAZING. I'd say int he past year or two I've fallen into a slump. Uninspired by my surroundings and uninspired by my clients. As a result, it showed through my work. My posing suffered as well and more than a handful of times some of my shoots became more than awkward. Then I bought this course and watched most of it in the course of a day. I walked away inspired, blown away, and renewed. The next day I walked into an engagement session confident. I gave my couples a quick overview on posing and then we just had fun in front of the camera. Immediately afterwards they texted me about how amazing their shoot was and how relaxed I made them feel about posing. The photos turned out fantastic to say the least. I've since shot several more engagement sessions and each one of them has been amazing. If anything, this course should inspire photographers to think outside the box and provide you with the necessary skills to take incredible engagement photos. Thank you Pye and Creative Live! I cannot speak more highly of this course. I should also state I purchased Pye's Natural Light course on SLR Lounge: this course is a wonderful addition to that. If you already own the natural light course and are hesitant about purchasing this one, don't. Buy it and reap the benefits!


This is by far one of the best courses I have taken. Pye makes learning fun and easy to understand. I feel like I have learned so much throughout the course, that I have truly advanced my photography skills. I am so excited to get out there and try so many of the techniques that he showed. I would love to take another course of his. The pricing for the course doesn't even compare to how wonderful the education truly is, I really got more than my money's worth on this one.

Student Work