Star Rating Approach by David Bergman


I attended the San Francisco stop of the Aperture World Tour today and had the opportunity to listen to New York pro shooter David Bergman talk about his workflow. This is a guy who sometimes captures as many as 4,000 Raw images in a single assignment.

Since a hobby of mine is appreciating the different ways photographers apply star ratings in their photo management applications, I thought I might pass along David's approach. He starts by going through the entire shoot once applying either a single star on no star to every picture. If a shot gets a single star, it's a legitimate photograph. It might not be a winner, but the focus, exposure, and composition are acceptable. If an image doesn't get a star, then it will most likely never be used.

David then sorts the images, and goes back through the one star images. This time, he looks at them a bit closer, and applies two stars to the pictures that he thinks have potential. He then makes one more pass, this time through the two star images, and applies three stars to the handful of keepers from the shoot. These will be the photos that he will perfect and pass along to the client.

What about four and five stars? David says that four stars are reserved for portfolio pieces, and it's very rare that he would rate an image five stars unless he felt is was a true hero shot.

I know my approach to rating has changed over the years. I thought you might enjoy reading this approach by a big time shooter.

Four star ladybug shot by TDS member Ruth Cooper

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Good idea, I usually use the '3' flags in Lightroom, but might have a look into colours for more versitality


I thought that was really interesting to watch. He went through that pretty fast and his system makes sense.

BTW, I couldn't find you at the presentation. Too bad, I was hoping to get a copy of the companion, but I can't find it in soooo many bookstores.

I was at the Hong Kong tour and we had John Stanmeyer. He actually had the same workflow, adding 1 star then going through the 1 star to get the 2nd and then the 3rd stars. Do you think the advisory group all work similarly?