How many photos is too many?

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by robert_reason, Sep 3, 2016.

  1. I'm a new photographer and I'm starting to see that I edit a lot of photos. So far I 've done numerous family, engagement, and maternity photo sessions. I've only done one wedding. With the wedding, I ended up with 496 edited photos that I gave to my client. For the other shoots, I average 20-30 edited photos that I give my clients. I don't charge for packages. I simply pick the best photos I take, edit them and give them to the client on a thumb drive. If they want prints or albums, I charge accordingly. The problem is, I spend so much time sifting through photos to pick out the good ones and then I take more time to edit. Is their a set amount of photos I should be providing or some sort of scale i should be using to figure out how many is enough? Whats the norm? Would a client be satisfied with 5-10 photos or is that too little? Thank you in advance for any helpful suggestions.
  2. In the film days 10 edited shots delivered for a portrait shoot was pretty normal. Today with digital the number can be from 20 to 100 and up. It all depends what the goal of the shoot is and what the clients expectations are. It is up to you to communicate that. Weddings are certainly going to have a much higher count. I can not give you advice on how to charge other than the fact you should charge something and not give files away. No one orders prints or albums much these days. So if this is all practice then it really doesn't matter. You will know how much is too much time for you to be working on the computer with no payment.
  3. For weddings figure about 100 per hour delivered.
  4. 100 per hour???? Wow. That seems a bit much. I am not a pro and did a friends son's wedding last Saturday as a favour. From 9am until 11pm. I did shoot over 1400 but I am quite sure they are not expecting 1,100 images. Besides, what would they possibly do with such an amount?
  5. Oops..... 14 hours. 1400 + images. Would a pro manage 1400 "keepers"?
  6. Opinions vary.
    I recall one top photographer (jeff Ascough) who printed 4X6 samples to demonstrate to clients how many 200 keepers was when the client showed concern about number of delivered images. He would throw them out on the floor.
    Conversely, I've read here on this site where some deliver in the thousands.
    In the digital age clients seem to like copious quantities. I think this has led to devaluing photography in general.
    I've observed that clients look for content even if mediocre in presentation. Just look at the junk posted on social sites right after a wedding .. followed by all the "likes" and accolades. More seems better ... when in reality the opposite is usually the case.
    For me it has never been a fixed number for the whole shoot or per hour. I shoot for the story at a wedding, plus the requested posed images. We work on a portrait until I feel we have it ... be it 20 minutes or 2 hours.
    I have done assignments where I delivered over 1000 images ... like a Hindu wedding that stretched out over many days.
    So circumstances can vary considerably.
    - Marc
  7. Ooh, I like the 200 keepers thrown on the floor deal.
    I've shot about 250 weddings (well, #250 will be in a couple of weeks anyway) and in my experience, people typically want me to tell their complete wedding story in photographic images. From one wedding to the next, that number may vary based on the amount of activity. A full Saturday from the salon to the end of the reception will obviously yield a different count than a Sunday afternoon brunch where most of the shots aren't taken because someone in it is stuffing their face with food and/or drink.
    What I find, especially if there are two photographers, is that between 50 and 80 per shooting hour is pretty common. So, if they hire you for eight hours, and there is a lot of activity, 600 isn't an unlikely total to come up with. Now, if you're shooting two or three of most shots where someone is looking at you (so you can cull out blinking, distracted by a shiny, etc.), you're going to have to cull through about 2000 images on a full day to whittle that down to the 600 you will probably deliver. I also recommend dividing those into subfolders based on the activity (Getting Ready, Ceremony, Portraits, Table Shots (aka "friends and family"), etc.) to make it a little more digestible.
    The most important thing you can do is manage the expectation up front. Tell potential clients you will tell their wedding day story, and let them know what that means to you. For you, it might mean 200. For other photographers who tend to tell more of the story, like me, that might mean 600 or more.
  8. Its best just to give a minimum number based on the hours.
  9. I agree with providing a minimum number of images based on the number of hours.
    Also you have to have an efficient workflow because images are not free. Every image shot has to be inspected and rejected or used. That takes time and time is not free. Every image you deliver takes additional time and effort. The better you are at shooting, the faster your post processing will become.
    So when you decide how many photos you want to deliver you have to factor it how many images will you shoot and how many images will you deliver and how much post processing will your delivered images have. Basically how much additional time will I spend on the wedding besides shooting it?
  10. Hi,
    I've been a wedding photographer for over 30 years. 100 per hour, that's crazy. You'll look like a fool amateur. Some weddings run 10 hours. There is no definite answer other than you take what you need and make sure the ones they see are your best. The amount will depend upon the size of the wedding party, how much time they have, and what the customer wants. Digital has changed everything. With medium format film 200-300 was a large wedding. There are times when less is better than more. Depends on the couple and their parents (who is paying for it), some like more formals, some want lots of candid shots. If there is a videographer let them cover the dance floor and candid shots, they rarely sell anyway. Concentrate on images that can't be taken on a cell phone. Don't be trigger happy, it's unprofessional unless your shooting sports.
    Count on almost almost as much time going through your images as the shoot, make sure everything is level, do your cropping. I size everything at 12x18" @ 300dpi. If you took them correctly you shouldn't have much photoshop work. You might want to make a few B&W. I upload them to my prolab and they knock off 4x6" proofs.
    I'm sure you know where to go from here.
  11. Not everyone has the same approach and calling someone a "fool amateur" for providing more pictures than you think is "right" is not kind or helpful. Some photographers utilize a business model which does not count on selling prints afterward, but instead has clients who wish to pay more up front to get more photographs in a digital format. Please try to keep it positive. Someone doing something differently than you does not mean they are not a professional.
    Yes, "spray and pray" definitely gets distracting for the guests AND makes for a huge workflow afterward and thus is not a great idea. But every wedding has different requirements to tell the story, and I do not believe there is any benefit to forcing a maximum number on any wedding shoot.
  12. I have been shooting weddings for over 20 years. I started with film using a Hasselblad and the average 7 hour wedding for NYC was 20 rolls of 220 = 480 images. Believe it or not it is possible to shoot that amount.. I did it and everyone else did it. The difference between then and today is you had to know what you were doing and get it right or close to it on each shot.
    That is exactly why the business was better then because the market was not saturated as it is today. Back then you had to wait a week to see if you messed up or not and if you did you did not work again. The internship was a key component then and is much overlooked today. Everyone with a digital camera wants to get a website and go into business. Nothing wrong with that as there are talented new photographers out there but there are also a lot who are not. But that is another subject.
    Today, however, myself included, everyone seems to shoot 2 - 3 times the amount as was shot in the film days. It is just a part of the evolution. Since there are no physical rolls of film there is no need to think about budgeting the shots. So the trigger finger tends to go more than it should. I find myself using extra shots to be used as the Polaroid shots to check lighting conditions or to test creative adjustments. Why not? And whats wrong with chipping? You have no excuse to get the shot wrong when you had the opportunity to preview it.
    I have been with digital since the beginning and yes I agree that the average number of DELIVERED images can be roughly equal to 100 pictures per hour worked based on the average 8 hour day. Once you go over 8 hours the number can start to drop.
    The actual images shot before the edit can be double that number. This does not mean you are actually taking 200 pictures per hour as that depends on your event. One hour I may shoot 80 images but the next hour 300. I average 1,200 - 1,400 at the end of an 8 hour day and after I delete the duplicates and the polaroid shots I am around 800-900 images.
    I put in my contract that they can expect a minimum of 500 images delivered. I have only once delivered 500 images all other jobs have been over that minimum.
  13. What is wrong with an honest opinion? I didn't curse out anyone, nor did I have any intention of starting something. I tell it like it is. Is this an adult forum or not? Have you attended any formal wedding seminars hosted by pros? You'd hear them say much worse.
    I'm sorry if I offended anyone. I just feel that part of the job is how you handle yourself, from the way you dress to the car you pull up in. Customers want to be assured that they made the right selection. The more you impress the more referrals you will get.
  14. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Rick, there is nothing "wrong" with your comment.
    Yes, to answer your question, I have attended many seminars and master classes and I have given a few myself, also. Yes, the language can be quite colourful.
  15. See how upset Rick got when I merely asked for things to remain positive? That's what I was trying to help avoid on behalf of the original poster. I was trying to prevent anyone getting their feelings hurt for merely asking a question - which is what I believe this forum is intended to encourage. This is why I left Facebook and social media, and most likely why I will not bother posting on this forum anymore. The phrase "an honest opinion" or "I tell it like it is" can be used as rationalization for just about any negative comment which, when you are only dealing with non-toned and non-context text, can be taken in a very negative and hurtful way. The OP could have potentially thought Rick was calling him unprofessional and a "fool amateur." An honest and constructive opinion/advice can be given without adding words which the OP might feel are being directed at them.
    In my experience, it is not the client who will think of someone as a "fool amateur" if the photographer is taking a lot of photos. It has only ever been other photographers who happen to have a different world view of things. In fact, due to the general lack of education by clients and their guests about quality versus quantity, a photographer choosing not to photograph what others might perceive as an important moment is more likely to elicit doubt in the mind of a client about the photographer.
    At nearly every wedding I shoot, I hear horror stories about other photographers that bridal party members and guests have worked with in the past. The assurance that a customer has made the right decision about a photographer most likely has little to do with the number of photographs the photographer takes. Rick is absolutely right about how you present yourself, though I cannot grasp what that has to do with the number of photographs one takes at a wedding.
    Good luck to you all, and may you have excellent experiences with your clients. More importantly, may you provide excellent experiences FOR your clients.
  16. Ummm... Let's see. If the average wedding takes eight hours (including the reception) and there are 800 photos and it takes maybe 15 secs to review each picture then that's 12,000 secs or 200 minutes to look at the whole package. Just for the client to riffle through that many on the computer will take several minutes. I agree with the pros who say that they try to tell the story of the wedding so the number of prints will vary. I have been married (to the same woman) for 52 years and the number of times we have pulled out the album, after the first year, have been few. One of the posters has said it depends on the clients expectations. The display of how many 200 is with physical pictures might be a gentle method to adjust those expectations. Just sayin...
  17. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "In my experience, it is not the client who will think of someone as a "fool amateur" if the photographer is taking a lot of photos. . . due to the general lack of education by clients and their guests about quality versus quantity, a photographer choosing not to photograph what others might perceive as an important moment is more likely to elicit doubt in the mind of a client about the photographer."​
    This salient point about how (in general) Clients seem ill-educated regarding quality and quantity and thus how they would usually interpret an eager and enthusiastic Photographer - is very powerful message and the OP should take that on board - arguably the most relevant piece of advice given thus far.
    Obviously this enthusiasm and taking all these shots, has to be balanced with having the necessary shots in the can at the end of the function . . . for example it would be great to have several cut-away shots of tears in the Congregation as a reaction to "the kiss" - but that would be of little benefit if the Kiss Shot itself, were not nailed.
    Arguably one best business practice would be to educate the Clients about quality and quantity. As Marc Williams mentioned "circumstances can vary considerably". I think that by educating and informing Clients about how and why you work, then there is little need for a "one formula fits all photographers" approach. But doing that, defining oneself and one's business when just starting out could appear daunting: well I think that's where business and sales skills are useful and I think a lot of Photographers, (and plumbers carpenters and dentists etc) might be too focused on their trade/profession development that they fail to dedicate time and effort to learn how to run and maintain a business. A good salesperson advises the Client of the advantages and worth of the product on offer . . . maybe 100 per hour is an advantage and has worth: maybe the whole story can be told in 50 images - I think that it really firstly depends on YOUR business model and then secondly the type and the duration of the wedding: but the point is if you accurately define exactly what business that you are in, then you are in control of the formulas that you use.
    As two extremes, and examples only - your business might be defined simply as "maximum images and quickly" - that probably would appeal to the B&G who want to have lots of photos all over social media before they left the reception and later had a stick of 1000 images revolving on a screen in the kitchen - and at the other end of the spectrum your business might be defined something like "hand crafted art" and that might appeal to Client who wants maybe 24 excellent photographic prints in a leather bound album to leave on the coffee table and they would be happy to wait 6 weeks for delivery ad appreciate of the fact that each photo might take 8 hours, or more to make.
    I don't think that you can educate (or market to) your Clients until you define exactly what business that you are in.
  18. Hi All,
    Yes, I did get upset. I rarely post here and I felt someone wanted to have me or my post bounced out of here for speaking my mind. I am far from being upset with anyone and don't want to hurt any feelings either.
    I still feel 500 or more stills is way too much, especially now that we can preview our images instantly in digital. I shoot on Long Island, NY, people tend to go a bit overboard here but I've never had a customer want that many images. Most couples would rather you be invisible so they can enjoy their day and have memories of other things other than being photographed. I prefer posed photos, or at least candids where I can see faces and capture special moments. Some customers want a photo journalistic approach telling the story of their day, some only want candids and a few formals. Every wedding is different, some require assistants for lighting, etc. and there are those on a budget who can only afford the minimum. I general I find those to be the nicest people. IMO if I shot 100 at the house, 100 at the church/ceremony, 100 formals, and perhaps another 100 during the reception that would be enough. Of course if more were needed they would be taken. I never count frames, I shoot what I feel will cover the event. Besides, the video guy is capturing the story.
    I've witnessed couples going through hundreds of proofs, most were falling asleep. If it's a huge affair in NYC maybe 1000 shots work. I've done weddings in Virginia where the main course was Dunkin Dognuts and the bride and groom had one dance and split.
    The answer to the original question is you develop a good repertoire of poses, cover everything that is important (info can be found on the web, books, and talking to the bride beforehand), and carry yourself as a professional. Set the number of photos to a realistic number and tell your customer it will probably be more.
    All you fools can complain if you like! (JUST KIDDING)
  19. I only give them 100 photos to choose from. It can become overwhelming for clients to see hundreds of photos. I can spend a few hours picking the best ones that I think they will want. I have a question sheet that asks them what shots they want the most, and those are the ones I give them with some extras to choose from.
  20. I think 100 images is on the other extreme. I would be upset if I received 100 of my wedding. 20 - getting ready, 20 - portraits, 20 - ceremony 20 - coctail and 20 reception. REALLY?
  21. Sorry to be resurrecting an old topic, but I think it is relevant not only to the OP, but also to many new and upcoming wedding photographers. I shot my first wedding back in 1999, and the Portra 160 NC was pricey for a guy just starting out. As Michael Mowery stated earlier, you had to really think about your shots. A propak of the Portra had 5 rolls x 36 exposures, so a total of 180 images. Plus there were the images you tried to get during the reception. I usually went for a less expensive but faster Kodak Gold 1000 as most people don't order the reception shots perhaps another 2-3 rolls so let's say another 100 images. During the later time of my film career I was quite confident that I could get maybe 85-90% keepers so let's say 85% of 280 so about 235 images. This was for an 8 hour wedding and the brides would still complain that there were too many images.
    Why does that matter? Well, I learned to set expectations ahead of time. I'm the pro, I know from experience how many images start to become overwhelming, so during my face-to-face meeting with the client (this meeting is so very important. I know it's not always possible, but it makes for a much smoother experience for you and the bridal party) I might say something like, "you can expect 20-30 images per hour. I try to cull out the duplicates and any blinkers, I know you don't want to be buried in so many wedding pictures that your eyes start spinning so I make sure that my editors and I tell the whole story using the very best images from that day." If I deliver more than the promised 20-30 I'll say something like, "Wow, you were all such amazing models we had a hard time cutting some of these beautiful shots of your wedding."
    The point is, to set the expectation and if you exceed it you will have added value to your customer service and that is always a plus when you're looking for referrals right?
  22. i always thought the number would depend on the occasion, number of guests and the place.
  23. I we shoot couple of thousand photos and I end up with 1000 edited photos then I give them to the B&G. Why not, it's there wedding.
  24. I'm skipping this good picture because i already took 5 of them.
    Is that the way a pro should think?
    I think more in terms of opportunities than how many times the shutter clicks.
    Don't pass up a chance to take a great picture.


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