How many photos do you shoot at an event?

© Paul Mozell

A photographer-colleague of mine recently told me that she shot over 1200 images at a recent wedding. Another photographer I know guarantees his clients that he will shoot and deliver at least 400 photographs to the bride and groom. In the bygone era of film, 200 frames would have been a good night or day of shooting. Now, in the digital era, there is an growing expectation that more is better. Since there is no cost associated with shooting unlimited images, why not shoot more?

First, consider that it is an unnecessary burden to the bride and groom to saddle them with many hundreds of images to review and edit. Why deliver four, five, or six variations on one pose or group shot when it is very likely that one photograph is the clear winner? In my view, it is my responsibility as a professional photographer to ship a tightly edited selection of images—whether it is a wedding, a portrait session, or an editorial (magazine) assignment. I’ve never had a commercial client ask me how many photographs I would take, unless it was an expense related to the cost of film and processing.

The more images I shoot, the more production time I must spend editing, cropping, and color-correcting images. I’d rather photograph an event carefully, giving me more stress-free time to edit a strong folder of work from a given wedding, and later, more time to design and deliver a stunning final album to my clients.

As a photographer with a background in photojournalism, one of my goals is to minimize the extent of my intrusion on a event. The less time I spend clicking a camera shutter and popping a flash, the better.

As much as we photographers would prefer that couples shop for photographers, using the quality of the photographers’ work as the sole criteria for selection, I don’t ignore the fact that pricing, website design, phone manners, studio appearance and yes, a count of images taken, are evaluated during the process of shopping for a photographer.For the time being at least, I will continue to promise my clients that I will shoot an “unlimited” number of images, or, all the photographs necessary to artistically, and accurately, record the event and the memories for all time.

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