Many of us end up photographing events each year. There are weddings, little league games, family reunions, birthdays, quinceañeras, anniversaries, corporate events, and the list goes on. Whether you’re hired to shoot or photographing your own family, I’ve got a simple tip to help you sort through your photos faster and find the gems more efficiently.

I took 912 pictures at a corporate event the other day, but I knew my client needed fewer than 100 pictures. When you shoot a corporate event, it’s important that you deliver only the best pictures–the shots with people laughing or clapping, or with the speaker engaging with the audience directly. You should deliver the pictures that show emotion. The last thing your client will want is a bunch of pictures of people with straight faces looking forward. Same thing for family events: only show the pictures that show the peak of emotion or action, and your family will enjoy looking at your photos.

Of course, I’m shooting digital, so I can shoot as much as needed to make sure I get those few gems showing the emotion. What I’ve found, though, is that as an event proceeds my shots get better and better and I have to make fewer shots to get the gems. Partly it’s because I’ve got my autofocus and exposure dialed in better, and partly it’s because I can anticipate the speaker’s mannerisms and anticipate his jokes. Basically, my last pictures are better than my first pictures, and that’s true for almost all events and almost all photographers.

Sort the Last First

So, if the best pictures are at the end, I suggest you start sorting your pictures at the end and work your way to the beginning. When I sort this way, I find the most engaging pictures first and end up sharing far fewer of the beginning of the event. My sorting goes faster because I’ve already seen the best pictures, so when I get to the first shots I’m not vacillating over whether this shot or that is slightly better. I also remember making a few particular shots, and I realize that I find those memorable shots sooner when I sort from the end first.

Levi_Sim-1You can even set Lightroom to show you the last pictures first. In the Grid view, press T to show the toolbar, then select Capture Time, and click the “A to Z” icon to switch it to “Z to A”.

Give this a try with your next event, and I bet you’ll find that sorting from the end of the shoot first yields better pictures faster than sorting chronologically.