How to pick your very best photo’s – my 3 step system.

Why it’s important to review your previous years photographs?

We tend to compare ourselves to other photographers which is the quickest way to feeling frustrated and disheartened with our photography! Instead we should be comparing our current work with the work we’ve created previously. 

Measure your own growth by how far you’ve come with what you’ve learned and how your photography has improved.

One of the best ways to do this is by doing a yearly review of your images. Going through the last 12-months of your photos and taking the time to choose your best shots. It can be your top 10, 20 or however many you feel.

The goal here is to sort through those images that speak to you, the ones that you’re most proud of and those images that show how much you’ve grown in the past year.

Lightning Storm

One of my favourite images from last year. I photographed this image using bulb mode on my camera, holding down the shutter until after the lightning struck. Shutter speed varied from 15 seconds to 35 seconds. I then blended a few shots together to create this single image.

3 easy steps on how to sort through and choose your Top Shots

How many images did you take in the last year? Thousands, more like tens of thousands, right? How on earth do you get through all those images to find your top shots? By using Lightroom’s organization and tagging tools you can make this task less daunting.

Step 1. Start by going through flagging your first picks. In the library module of Lightroom there is a little flag in the corner of your image as you view it on the grid. You can click on that to ‘Pick’ that image. You can also hit the ‘P’ key to ‘pick’ that image as well.

Once you’ve done that you can then filter your library by flagged and only those images you flagged/picked will show.

Wild dingo pup

Another one of my top shots from last year is this wild dingo puppy I photographed using a long 600mm lens – here I used ‘Brent’s Rule’ for hand holding my lens – more about shutter speed in this in-depth article.

Step 2. Next you’ll want to narrow it down further as it’s probable in your first run through you ended up with more than 10-20 images flagged – I had hundreds flagged. While you have your library sorted by flagged, go through it again.

Step 3. This time choose the best again. Using your color tag options mark your picks with a color.

Now you can filter your library by flagged and by the color you chose to code your Top Shot picks. This will be your final group of Top Shots. .

Photo BootCamp Magazine

Let’s see how our BootCamp members did on what they chose for their top or best images in the past year for this month’s challenge.

And be sure to check out how you can join BootCamp at the end of the magazine!

(Larger file for desktop or iPad).

Alternatively if you have a slower connection you can view this magazine Here on ISSUU.

Below is a small sample of what’s in this magazine…

Join The Fastest, ‘Funnest’ Way To Improve Your Photography!

Photo BootCamp Academy is an online community where busy photographers gather to take their photography to new levels of enjoyment and progress.

  • Discover exciting new skills
  • Rekindle your passion for taking photos
  • Improve fast with helpful feedback
  • Experience enjoyment and progress

Inside BootCamp Magazine

Featured Artist

Let’s take a look at this month’s magazine. Our featured artist of the month is Rachel Gilmour, from Australia.

One of her top shots is a ‘backyard’ shot. This one was taken in late October. Rachel spotted this character in one of their jade plants. She said it was a bit difficult to get a clean shot of it and it was hanging ‘upside down’, so she flipped it to make it easier to view. The image was created with a 24-105 lens.

top shots
Comment: Laura Griffiths“What fantastic detail you captured here Rachel, along with the soft blurred background. So well done. We are observing and appreciating nature more than ever in these times me thinks”

Cover Image

This month’s featured magazine cover image was created by Sara O’Brien from the United States. It is a recent image that has become one of her top shots. Hoarfrost is one of her favorite things to photograph when the sun is shining. This image did not turn out exactly as planned, but she still really likes the way it turned out.

Comment: Leila Gonzalez Sullivan“This is truly a “top shot” and, as you said, sometimes the best ones aren’t exactly as you planned but turn out great. Everything about this image is pleasing: the diagonal placement of the flower, the clearly visible ice crystals, the darker sky and lighter lower section, and finally, the blurred part at the right edge. Masterful!”

Active Members

Let’s take a look at some of our BootCamp members’ favorite images.

We’ll start with Brenda Potts from the United States. She shot this image in the Mt. Baker National Forest back in May. This stream provided the perfect opportunity to try some long exposure shots using an adjustable circular ND filter. The final image is a series of eight shots with a shutter speed range of 2.5 – 5 sec, which were then focus-stacked in Photoshop. Lessons learned: 1) I love long exposure photography, 2) Focus-stacking in PS is a lot of fun and 3) While very handy, a circular/adjustable ND filter sometimes causes a weird X pattern. She hasn’t quite figured out the magic formula to avoid that in brighter settings.

Comment: Valerie Worthen“Beautiful photo and great editing! I love the long exposure water photos with the smoothness of the water and something I want to start practicing more of. I have not stacked photos but need to learn to do that as well. Nice composition and the water creates a leading line through the photo. Great result!”
Next, we have Marti Harveyn from the United States. This was taken after sunrise at the Great Sand Dunes National Monument on the first of March. It was taken at ground level to capture the texture of the sand against the background, “Sand Waves”.
Comment: Sheree Ebanks“What a wonderful photo. I love that you got down to take this, with the distant dunes in focus and the lovely blue sky which is added to by the clouds. I love your warm tones and patterns made in the sand. Well done!”
top shots
Laima Ratajczak from Australia is next. After going through all of her photos from 2020, she kept coming back to this one. She just loves this cow’s face and it is quite different from other photos that she took during the year. Laima used her Tamron 18-400mm lens which she happened to have on her camera at the time she saw this cow and a donkey. It probably wasn’t the best choice but she didn’t even think about it. They were not tethered together but they were so close and friendly with one another that Laima had to take some shots. They were in a bit of a rush to get to their next camping spot before nightfall so she didn’t check each shot before leaving. That is why the cow is winking at her. But she still loves this image. She converted it to black and white in Lightroom.
top shots
Comment: Tessa Blewchamp“Love this Laima. The crops are great and the B&W treatment brings out the textures. The wink adds a lovely touch of character!”

Then we have Lou Mason-Walsh from the United Kingdom. Lou loves water of all types but especially waterfalls. Due to being in lock-down, his options were limited. This image was taken in Wymingbrook on the edge of Sheffield. It was taken during a rare opportunity to travel to visit his parents. She hadn’t been there since she was a kid and it was great to rediscover the peace and tranquility of the place even on a busy summer weekend. Lou chose the exposure to smooth out the water a little but still keep the feeling of movement especially in the pool at the bottom of the cascade and is one of her top shots for 2020.

Comment: Bruce Patterson“Very nice shot Lou! Good job with your camera settings.The smooth water and sharp rocks are a nice contrast.”
And last but not least, is this image from Rodney Charlton who lives in Australia. This one is from the middle of the year taken while on an early evening walk. Rodney glanced across at the tree, noticing the lovely colours, the yellows of the sunset and the slight purples of the early night sky. Then he saw the moon pass through the fork of the silhouetted tree as he walked past. He got about a minute down the path and decided he should go back and take a photograph or two, particularly as he had his camera with him. He was glad he did as he liked the result, but hadn’t found a monthly challenge to use it till now.
Comment: Peter Brody“Rodney, excellent silhouette of the tree against the evening sky. It was nice of the moon to cooperate so well. The purples and yellows complement each other also.”
These are just some of our member’s top shot images from the past year.

You can also share your images by joining Photo BootCamp Academy and can count on the community to help and guide you along the way. If you are not yet a member of this awesome family now is the best time to become one.

You can check out the complete BootCamp Magazine and see for yourself!


  • Reviewing your own work and being able to see where you’ve come from and how much you’ve grown is important.
  • Sort through your top shots using the pick function in Lightroom and color-coding to choose your favorites and narrow it down.
  • Coding our images with colors, stars and/or picks makes it easy to sort your images to pull up just your top shots.

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Please leave me a comment below – I’d love to know what you think. Brent

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