Choosing between photos

A little about the editing process today, and the tough choice we have to make when choosing between two or more shots which are similar. This photo above is in my portrait gallery, and the subject is - possibly - good enough to be worthy of inclusion there, regardless of accompanying gestures (here, the gloved hand framing the eye).

Naturally, it was one of several ideas we tried out. The photo below could equally have been picked: there's little between them, especially since you could argue that the gesture in both is arbitrary. All things being equal, you go with your instinct when making a preference, but often you use more objective details (and in this case, it came down to the hand on the chin overdoing it). But it's not easy, knowing you're consigning a perfectly good, potential portfolio image to a hard drive in a cupboard.

Below are two images from a shoot with Shelly D'Inferno for mobile provider giffgaff:

Neither made the final cut (my preferred versions are here). How to compare them? The top image shows more of Shelley, but the expression doesn't fit. The bottom image makes more contact with a stronger (or at least more apt) expression, but I feel the hands should be more splayed, like claws, and that the clothes are rather lost. And I'm not sure if I like, or dislike, not being able to see her eyes. 

The point is this: whenever I have to choose between similar shots which I both like, alarm bells ring. Because if they both have obvious advantages over the other, there may be too much missing from both. It usually means I can't look past the subject to judge them on better criteria, that I just want it to work so badly I'll look past flaws which wouldn't get more than a moment's consideration on any other shoot.

Admittedly, sometimes the subject matter is so good that all other frames of comparison really do lose relevance - so in truth, knowing when this is the situation is the hardest judgement of all.