Today’s Question: As a follow-up to the “Defining Your Workflow” presentations, I wonder about the culling software that are out there. I would be interested in your opinion as to whether or not you think they are worthwhile and worth the cost. If so, is there one you might prefer?
Tim’s Quick Answer: While there are some good and interesting tools for culling software automatically, I find that these are most useful for portrait photographers and can create a more cumbersome workflow for other types of photographers, especially in the context of a workflow that revolves around Lightroom Classic. One good option you might look at is Aftershoot (https://aftershoot.com).
More Detail: The idea of automatic culling software for photos is pretty straightforward. The software analyzes your images, and helps to identify those you might be most interested in reviewing and those that may be outtakes. This can be helpful when it works well, but in my view the software is really only helpful if you can trust the results without having to review all the images to confirm those results are accurate.
My experience has been that while software such as Aftershoot can certainly mark photos based on attributes such as being out of focus or featuring a person with their eyes closed, the result does not necessarily replace a manual visual evaluation of your photos.
For portrait photographers who capture a large number of photos of people, I would say this type of software is definitely worth evaluating, as it can most certainly help you more quickly focus on the photos that are most likely to represent your favorites. For other types of photographers, such as landscape and travel photographers, I would say the software provides less meaningful utility.
My main issue with using culling software beyond Lightroom Classic is that it can create a more cumbersome workflow that doesn’t necessarily save considerable time when compared to a manual review within Lightroom Classic. That’s especially true considering that even after using culling software you’re almost certainly going to want to review the photos yourself.
In other words, the culling software can help you focus on the photos that are most likely to become favorites, but a manual review is still necessary in my view. I would use the analogy of spam filtering for email. In many cases the spam filter does a good job of identifying the most obvious spam, but many non-spam messages still end up in the spam folder, and some spam messages still slip through.
Having said all that, if you think culling software might aid your workflow, I recommend taking a look at Aftershoot. You can find more information and download a free trial here: