Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Quantity For Quality?

I heard a photographer brag about how he "only" took so many photographs on a weekend trip. He was talking about how he was really paying attention to what he was doing so he didn't need to press the shutter-release-button nearly as many times as he had done in the past.

He showed his best 50 photographs--a few were great, many were good, about one-third were just ok. I would be happy if I took a weekend photography trip and came back with similar results.

But those 50 photographs accounted for only 8% of the total number of photographs he took. Yes, and that was after taking fewer photographs than usual because he was really paying attention.

On this blog I usually display on average 25% of the photographs that I took on whatever photo outing I was on. Sometimes it's more, sometimes less. A couple of times I posted over half of the photographs that I took. While I prefer to show just the best photographs, I'm also not afraid to show some lesser photographs if it contributes positively to the blog post.

Why 25%? What about the other 75%?

Well, first, I usually take two or three photographs of whatever it is I'm photographing to make sure that I got it right. If I'm really pushing the limits of the camera in some way, I'll press the shutter-release-button even more to make sure I get a good image (perhaps as many as 10 photographs). Perhaps I adjusted the exposure, focus, depth-of-field, etc, slightly.

So most of the 75% that doesn't get posted are simply duplicate images.

The rest of the photographs that don't get posted on here are images that, for one reason or another, simply didn't work. I tried something, but I was not successful. I'd guess that 10% of my photographs fall into this catagory.

To put that differently: 25% of my photographs are at least ok (and are maybe even good or great), and those get displayed on this blog; 65% of my photographs are duplicate images to those 25% that got posted (I pushed the shutter-release-button several times for the same thing to ensure that at least one image would be good); 10% of my photographs are simply unsuccessful.

All of that is to say that it's better to think about what you are photographing and ensure you are going to get the image you want than to shoot a bunch of nonsense in hopes that something good will come out of it.

No two people will have the same percentage of successful photographs. I'm sure that there are well-known and well-respected photographers that have less than an 8% success rate. And I'm sure there are others that have over a 50% success rate. There is no correct percentage.

However, I do think that no matter what your success rate is, there is always room for improvement. There is no need to take 1000 photographs to get 80 good ones. Strive to get what you want on the first try, and, if you're not successful, than perhaps on the second, third, or fourth try.

Always try to improve what you are doing each time you pull out your camera. It won't take long before you'll look back and see that you really did improve your photography.

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