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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Kids & Family Talk 
Thread started 16 Nov 2009 (Monday) 13:49
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Number of "keepers" vs number of pictures taken

 
Moogs12
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Nov 16, 2009 13:49 |  #1

Guys,

I have just started out taking pictures for more than just my family. So far, I do everything for free just to get practice and experience. The last couple shoots I have done have taken about an hour or so and I have gone home with 125-150 images (not all different poses, I'll take a few pictures in bursts so that I can make sure all eyes are open, etc). Of those 125-150 pictures, I have found in both shoots that I end up with 20-30 that I really like and would present to a client.

What is typical? Do you take more or less than what I am and do you end up with a higher keeper rate? A keeper rate of 20% seems low to me.

Michael




  
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lil_miss
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Nov 16, 2009 18:47 |  #2

Mine works out at around 50% as a general rule :)


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5Dmaniac
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Nov 16, 2009 18:52 |  #3

It all depends what I am shooting. With landscapes the keeper rate is pretty high - I can control what I take a picture of, when I take it and how I expose and compose it. When I shoot birds in flight the keeper rate goes way down - probably less than 20%. I don;t do people - except family snap shots every now and then.




  
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JeffreyG
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Nov 16, 2009 18:56 |  #4

You will find a huge variety amongst photographers according to style and even what they think of as 'keepers'.

Two examples:

1. I set up some lights and take portraits of my kids to make a Christmas card. I might take 5 shots of each kid. Of those 5 I generally will find that at least 4 are technically acceptable (maybe one has a blink or something) and then I just sort out the best cause I only need one.

So.....20 shots yields 17-18 that are perfectly fine, but I end up keeping 4 because I have 4 kids. So most of the culls are redundancy.

2. I shoot a difficult sporting event like volleyball. In this I shoot, shoot, shoot because the action is fast and demanding. In this I might pitch as much as 80%. These culls include missed peak action, arms across faces, out of focus etc. This is more just the nature of the sport.


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darosk
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Nov 16, 2009 19:11 |  #5

I hate quoting photographers because I think it sounds pretentious, but I think Henri Cartier-Bresson said "Your first 10,000 photos are your worst".

I'm at 60-70k and I still haven't seen any improvement :P

Seriously though, only you (and/or the client) get to decide what your keeper rate is. Over the last 2 years I've gone from 10-15% to about 30-40% on shoots which don't demand action shots.


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jetcode
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Nov 17, 2009 22:18 |  #6

The most memorable answer for me to this question came during a weekend workshop with Galen Rowell, a well recognized photographer. He stated that he shot over 1 million images, 300k were in stock files, 1000 were the top images, and he had 15 personal favorites.

I could say I average 1:20 to 1:40 which isn't of much significance because it really matters how one shoots and qualifies as a keeper.




  
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ChrisMc73
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Dec 14, 2009 10:32 |  #7

When you all put your stuff up online at Flickr, Picasa, SmugMug, ZenFolio, etc...do you weed out the really bad stuff, OOF, bad exposures, bad movements, closed eyes, etc? Or do you keep it all and put up there as well?




  
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111t
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Dec 18, 2009 10:51 |  #8

Moogs12 wrote in post #9025316 (external link)
Guys,

I have just started out taking pictures for more than just my family. So far, I do everything for free just to get practice and experience. The last couple shoots I have done have taken about an hour or so and I have gone home with 125-150 images (not all different poses, I'll take a few pictures in bursts so that I can make sure all eyes are open, etc). Of those 125-150 pictures, I have found in both shoots that I end up with 20-30 that I really like and would present to a client.

What is typical? Do you take more or less than what I am and do you end up with a higher keeper rate? A keeper rate of 20% seems low to me.

Michael

I think that your premis is wrong. First and formost you should have a pre-visualisation of every picture you take. If you get exactly what you want on the first shot... then you're done. (This very rarely happens, but you should be open to the possibility at least.) Much more often there will be some aspect of posing or lighting that you want to change. Do it, take another shot and then evaluate that one. Then move on to your next pose. Learning to quickly and accurately evaluate you photos is something that comes with experience. People who have better ratios of shots to keepers are just catching more things before they push the button. With groups of 5 or more i'll generally snap 3-4 shots in succession (NOTE : without evaluating in between, not to be confused with motordrive which is just a waste of memory. Plus, if you're using flash i can promise you that there will be a bunch of blinks in the second shot. ) (The subjects should have a chance to compose themselves for each shot.) Then evaluate backwards looking at the last shot. All good? Move on, Blinker? look at the previous shot, is it ok? Move on... etc...

Also, people like a variety of poses but you should also have some idea of what the customer/subject wants from the photo shoot. Once you get a couple of poses that you're proud of see if they like them too. You may already be done. I'm not trying to discourage you from taking a lot of photos, just keep you're eye on the prize of a great shot!

JeffreyG wrote in post #9027024 (external link)
2. I shoot a difficult sporting event like volleyball. In this I shoot, shoot, shoot because the action is fast and demanding. In this I might pitch as much as 80%. These culls include missed peak action, arms across faces, out of focus etc. This is more just the nature of the sport.

I agree with this wholeheartedly. Action sports really involve a lot of luck. It helps to have some knowledge of the game that'll tell you where to stand. There's a certain amount of control you have over the finished shot... but you're essentially recording as opposed to creating a family portrait. I remember the first soccer shoot i did. The company had just picked up a second hand EOS-1n body and a 70-200. I went through something like 30 - 40 rolls. If the poor ratio of shots taken to really awesome shots has you down... just remember that at least you're not paying for processing all those photos!


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WHAT TO DO IF YOU DON"T HAVE A LIGHT METER AND YOU STILL WANT TO MAKE INTELLIGENT EXPOSURE DECISIONS.

  
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ChrisMc73
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Dec 18, 2009 10:58 |  #9

111t wrote in post #9222595 (external link)
I think that your premis is wrong. First and formost you should have a pre-visualisation of every picture you take. If you get exactly what you want on the first shot... then you're done. (This very rarely happens, but you should be open to the possibility at least.) Much more often there will be some aspect of posing or lighting that you want to change. Do it, take another shot and then evaluate that one. Then move on to your next pose. Learning to quickly and accurately evaluate you photos is something that comes with experience. People who have better ratios of shots to keepers are just catching more things before they push the button. With groups of 5 or more i'll generally snap 3-4 shots in succession (NOTE : without evaluating in between, not to be confused with motordrive which is just a waste of memory. Plus, if you're using flash i can promise you that there will be a bunch of blinks in the second shot. ) (The subjects should have a chance to compose themselves for each shot.) Then evaluate backwards looking at the last shot. All good? Move on, Blinker? look at the previous shot, is it ok? Move on... etc...

Also, people like a variety of poses but you should also have some idea of what the customer/subject wants from the photo shoot. Once you get a couple of poses that you're proud of see if they like them too. You may already be done. I'm not trying to discourage you from taking a lot of photos, just keep you're eye on the prize of a great shot!

Good advice here, thanks.




  
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dynamitetony
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Dec 18, 2009 11:04 as a reply to  @ ChrisMc73's post |  #10

varies depending on the situation

sometimes i like to experiment and i know that ill take lots that are not keepers

other times im more cautious before i hit the button, but i know im just taking the shots that i want

never actually counted the hit/miss rate though but i have often wondered the same thing myself.


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RDKirk
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Dec 18, 2009 11:26 |  #11

Moogs12 wrote in post #9025316 (external link)
Guys,

I have just started out taking pictures for more than just my family. So far, I do everything for free just to get practice and experience. The last couple shoots I have done have taken about an hour or so and I have gone home with 125-150 images (not all different poses, I'll take a few pictures in bursts so that I can make sure all eyes are open, etc). Of those 125-150 pictures, I have found in both shoots that I end up with 20-30 that I really like and would present to a client.

What is typical? Do you take more or less than what I am and do you end up with a higher keeper rate? A keeper rate of 20% seems low to me.

Michael

For portraits, I would never shoot in "bursts" (I'm presuming you mean being in motor-drive sequence mode rather than one-shot mode). As 11t mentioned, this should be in fairly quick (not too quick for your flash) but not motor-driven sequence.

As I did with film, I will usually set up a pose and then "sketch" in the camera with moderate changes to the pose with two or three shots to avoid blinks. The "sketches" may be differences in expression, slight differences in camera angle, head or hand position. However--very important--I'm not just snapping blindly. I make a change and observe the effect of the change before releasing the shutter.

One new thing since I've gone digital is that with groups (especially with children) I will put the camera on a tripod and shoot a series, concentrating for each shot on each member of the group in turn. I am essentially building a composite, making sure I have at least one great image of each person, then I'll composite everyone's best shot in Photoshop. This is especially valuable when there are squirmy little boys in the group. However, it's often useful for older people as well, because even though they're good at holding position, a shot in which I'm not concentrating on them may capture the best, most relaxed image.

I will only show a couple of images from each pose. Obviously, if I've created a composite I'm going to show the composite, not all of the images that make it up. During a session, I'll probably have one major pose change in 15 minutes, so an hour session will produce only around 10 preview images.

I explain how I work to my clients beforehand: I "sketch" in the camera and will use compositing techniques to create the best final product. Therefore, I will not show them every exposure I made, I will show them only the best artistic results from each pose. I will point out that this is not different from a portrait painter, who will also take many photographs and then create a single painting from the photographs.

Also, people like a variety of poses but you should also have some idea of what the customer/subject wants from the photo shoot. Once you get a couple of poses that you're proud of see if they like them too. You may already be done. I'm not trying to discourage you from taking a lot of photos, just keep you're eye on the prize of a great shot!

This is good advice. In my work, I am consciously seeking what will be the single best image, the "Vanity Fair" cover.


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Absolutely ­ Fabulous
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Dec 20, 2009 03:01 as a reply to  @ RDKirk's post |  #12

when I did modeling if we got a hand full per roll we were happy. Much depends on how picky you are of course there may be 20 out of 40 that are ok, but only 2-3 that are awesome.

If your doing a kids shoot it's harder normally than say an adult model.

As a parent, I'd rather 5 really really good pics to keep than 20 so so ones FWIW


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lesleysmeshly
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Dec 28, 2009 18:36 |  #13

I tend to overshoot, but it cost me nothing other than the time to weed thru the duplicates which doesn't bother me. This way I'm always covered in the event of someone blinking, looking away for a second, etc. I shoot mainly children, families, and newborns so the amount taken varies for each, but I like to try new angles of the same pose to see what works and doesn't work. I show my clients at least 25 processed images in their gallery. The rest of the images get archived and pretty much never looked at again. I don't do formal posing per say, more like chase the kids around and yell freeze every now and again. I want to get the real moments of real play, laughs, etc. so I tend to be a little more shutter happy and then weed it down to my favorites giving my client a good variety of "poses".


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caught14
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Jan 08, 2010 10:39 |  #14

For a typical family shoot, we'll take around 350-450 images. From that we only present 35-40 images so as to not overwhelm the client. However, if there are a lot of unique combinations then on occasion we've done up to 50, but it's rare. That's roughly a 10-12% keeper rate. (Note - All our sessions are outdoors. I would expect studio sessions to see a higher keeper rate)

For weddings, our keeper rate is roughly 20%, and for high school seniors 16-19%. Families are usually harder because there are kids and more people in general. High school seniors are the easiest to cull because we'll only take 200-250 shots and most of them are pretty good since you only have to worry about one person and can take your time more when shooting.

As you improve, you'll find that more of your shots start turning out to be keepers, so in order to maintain the amount you present to a client in a fixed range, you'll either have to change your keeper percentage or just shoot less. I like the shooting less since it saves you time editing. Another thing that you'll notice as you improve is that your images will require less time in post processing as you start nailing the exposures better in camera.


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gyounis
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Jan 10, 2010 23:28 |  #15

With unplanned shots of my kids, I keep only about 20%. With the planned shots, maybe 30-40% are useable. For christmas pics for example, I took probably 300 photos and had 30 good ones, probably 4-5 great ones.


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Number of "keepers" vs number of pictures taken
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