What percentage are your keepers?

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Marek M Contributing Member • Posts: 937
What percentage are your keepers?

I back up all my pics but keep to work on in Lightroom between 10 to 15% max, sometimes less. Then prints are much less than 10% of that, closer to 2-5%.

It seems I do not take enough care taking pics with so many discarded.

What would be others "keep" percentage?

Nikon33 Senior Member • Posts: 1,449
Re: What percentage are your keepers?
1

I keep all of my great photos in a portfolio. I keep about 15% of my photos, but the ones I would actually show to someone is less than 1% of photos taken.

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hotdog321
hotdog321 Forum Pro • Posts: 20,254
Re: What percentage are your keepers?
1

Marek M wrote:

I back up all my pics but keep to work on in Lightroom between 10 to 15% max, sometimes less. Then prints are much less than 10% of that, closer to 2-5%.

It seems I do not take enough care taking pics with so many discarded.

What would be others "keep" percentage?

Depends on how you define "keepers." Storage is cheap and I keep everything other than photos of my feet or when the flash misfires. But with today's digital cameras most pictures are usable. After 35+ years in photojournalism I probably put less than one in a thousand in my portfolio.

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MediaArchivist
MediaArchivist Veteran Member • Posts: 5,107
Half

About half end up keepers, I delete the rest. Of the ones I keep, roughly a third to half are published by me, usually on IG or FB. The people in the photos often re-post additional ones.

I print less, the type of work I am doing tends to stay digital unless being used for specific marketing purposes. When I do print it is either 4x6" flyers or 12x18" posters for venues.

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Bob Tullis
Bob Tullis Forum Pro • Posts: 37,578
Re: What percentage are your keepers?

Hard to say, I take extra shots often enough when stressing stability, and I work some scenes generously.   It also depends on the subject being pursued and the field practice undertaken.

I try to go back now and then to visit past months work for a objective distance, I can more readily delete ruthlessly what I was too close to near when it was taken.

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fishy wishy
fishy wishy Veteran Member • Posts: 9,335
Re: What percentage are your keepers?
1

I hardly ever delete photos on the computer. I normally catch the big errors at the time I'm shooting. I just pick the photos I need or like and work on them.

If what you're really asking is what proportion of photos do I present to other people, it varies on what type of photography it is or if anybody shows interest.

At a recent sports event I probably only put 3% of photos up on social media.

Beware of being caught in virtue signaling by saying how ruthless you are with your photos. Nobody would notice. They can only like the ones you show them.

Davi7d777
Davi7d777 Regular Member • Posts: 306
Re: What percentage are your keepers?

What's a keeper?

If shots that are not deleted then probably 95%+. But then it is easier to just store the marginal ones than bother to delete other than just the obvious worthless, mistakes, and dupes.

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Michael Firstlight Veteran Member • Posts: 3,712
Re: What percentage are your keepers?

For weddings, about 80-85% could be considered keepers of some sort - but a lot of them are dupes. I often take about two to three frames of the same shots when I can (expressions, slight lighting adjustments etc.) - so in the end about 1/3 are actually adjusted, cropped, finished, and delivered to the bride and groom - typically in a hardcover table book. I don't delete any images from storage - they are all rated in LR so I can work on just the 4&5 star images after my initial sort. The three-star images are acceptable, but are mostly but dupes, variations, or borderline, the 2-star images didn't make the cut, and the 1-star images are total losses.

Mike

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MediaArchivist
MediaArchivist Veteran Member • Posts: 5,107
N.B.
2

It should be noted that "keeper rate" is highly dependent on the type of photography being done, and the expectations (or lack thereof) of "finished product". It should not be surprising to read that a very successful photographer with widely acclaimed work might have a high keeper ratio, and another with similar accolades has a ratio much lower.

When you look at a photo you like, or that a client likes, it really does not matter (to you or them) how many shots they are not seeing.

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alcelc
alcelc Forum Pro • Posts: 11,133
Re: What percentage are your keepers?

Marek M wrote:

I back up all my pics but keep to work on in Lightroom between 10 to 15% max, sometimes less. Then prints are much less than 10% of that, closer to 2-5%.

It seems I do not take enough care taking pics with so many discarded.

What would be others "keep" percentage?

Back to the film days, varied a lot. As couldn't know an immediate result, usually took a few shots every time wishing could have hit the jackpot. Also relying on the gear when have more sophisticated in-camera metering and AF etc in later days. Around 30% might be(?). The keeping rate might also be cut down by careless work of commercial printing shop. A few times they ruined the negatives because of wrong development.

Now digital camera can come close to 95+%. Live view helped and now I can rely less on Raw editing to save some marginal shots and be released from the constraint of gear. Zero metering might not always gives me the best exposure. See to adjust also allows me more headroom to create. At the time when we are able to adjust to our satisfaction before shooting, will rarely get unexpected result. So is the keeping rate.

I share shots among close F&F only and from the 7~8K from a trip, will print 2~3 max to hang in my corridor only. All would be complied into a video for easy playback.

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Gato Amarillo Veteran Member • Posts: 6,086
3% as a base
2

When I first started in newspaper photography, many years ago, someone told me if I could average one roll of film for every published photo I'd be in good shape. That was 36 exposure rolls of 35mm film.

So roughly 3% -- 30 to 36 frames for every published photo. Of course some photos took only 4 or 5 frames, some took 4 or 5 rolls. And some published photos were junk, while some were gold.

Today we can work faster and more freely, and newspaper publication is not a terribly high standard, but that's still where my thinking begins. For my personal work, if one of one hundred photos makes it to the public eye that's not bad at all. For jobs, if it takes 30 clicks to get a really fine photo I'm OK with that.

Remember, Ansel Adams said 12 fine photos in a year was a good catch -- and Ansel was sort of a workaholic who put in far more hours (and more clicks) in a year than most of us on these forums.

Gato

Bobthearch
Bobthearch Veteran Member • Posts: 7,985
Re: What percentage are your keepers?

Probably 1% are deleted screw-ups, or about once per full day of hiking and photography.

I print around 30/year, much less than 1%.

I eventually use about 10% of what I take.  Facebook, forum posts, websites, give-aways...

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Nikon33 Senior Member • Posts: 1,449
Re: What percentage are your keepers?

Bobthearch wrote:

Probably 1% are deleted screw-ups, or about once per full day of hiking and photography.

I print around 30/year, much less than 1%.

I eventually use about 10% of what I take. Facebook, forum posts, websites, give-aways...

How do you only take 1/100 screw up photos?

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Bobthearch
Bobthearch Veteran Member • Posts: 7,985
Re: What percentage are your keepers?

Nikon33 wrote:

Bobthearch wrote:

Probably 1% are deleted screw-ups, or about once per full day of hiking and photography.

I print around 30/year, much less than 1%.

I eventually use about 10% of what I take. Facebook, forum posts, websites, give-aways...

How do you only take 1/100 screw up photos?

I give credit to the camera.  Gear doesmatter. 

By screwup, I'm not talking about the usual photo not being good enough.  I'm talking about really bad, like missing focus or a really wrong camera setting.

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Nikon33 Senior Member • Posts: 1,449
Re: What percentage are your keepers?

Bobthearch wrote:

Nikon33 wrote:

Bobthearch wrote:

Probably 1% are deleted screw-ups, or about once per full day of hiking and photography.

I print around 30/year, much less than 1%.

I eventually use about 10% of what I take. Facebook, forum posts, websites, give-aways...

How do you only take 1/100 screw up photos?

I give credit to the camera. Gear doesmatter.

By screwup, I'm not talking about the usual photo not being good enough. I'm talking about really bad, like missing focus or a really wrong camera setting.

You mean you give credit to the lens especially, right? I miss focus all the time or use a really wrong camera setting using my ancient 70-200 f/2.8 Nikon.

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Bobthearch
Bobthearch Veteran Member • Posts: 7,985
Re: What percentage are your keepers?

Nikon33 wrote:

Bobthearch wrote:

Nikon33 wrote:

Bobthearch wrote:

Probably 1% are deleted screw-ups, or about once per full day of hiking and photography.

I print around 30/year, much less than 1%.

I eventually use about 10% of what I take. Facebook, forum posts, websites, give-aways...

How do you only take 1/100 screw up photos?

I give credit to the camera. Gear doesmatter.

By screwup, I'm not talking about the usual photo not being good enough. I'm talking about really bad, like missing focus or a really wrong camera setting.

You mean you give credit to the lens especially, right? I miss focus all the time or use a really wrong camera setting using my ancient 70-200 f/2.8 Nikon.

I did buy a lens this year, the AF-P 70-300.  Not only am I getting better at learning all of the Nikon AF features, but the lens seems to grab focus faster and lose it less often than some other lenses.  It has contributed to a higher keeper rate of kids' sports photos.

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Ed Rizk Veteran Member • Posts: 3,398
Re: What percentage are your keepers?

Real estate photos have become formulaic, so more than 90% are keepers, counting each processed bracketed set.   If the scene is backlit, I take enough exposures in the bracket to get over and under exposed shots that are unused, though.

People pictures, I keep maybe 20%.   Not all of those are good, but I'll keep the best of each person for that night and some interactions even if they are not technically perfect, because they preserve a memory.

My artistic keeper rate is well under 5%, maybe 1%.

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Tony Beach Forum Pro • Posts: 11,967
Re: What percentage are your keepers?

Marek M wrote:

What would be others "keep" percentage?

How long is a piece of string? One answer would be it's twice the length from the middle to either end.

It seems I do not take enough care taking pics with so many discarded.

Imagine a scenario where you get a 100% keeper rate because your shots are easy, and/or your standards are low. So you take harder shots and you raise your standards and your keeper rate goes down even as both the quality and quantity of your keepers goes up. Taken to its extreme you take all the photos that have ever been taken or ever will be taken and from that seemingly infinite body of endless horrible photos you have all the world's greatest photos.

Badwater Senior Member • Posts: 2,095
Re: What percentage are your keepers?

My reality is this.  I don't shoot a lot of pix.  But when I intend to shoot pics, I plan it out for the best light and composition.  And like in the film days, I don't waste time trying out stuff just for something to do.  I shoot with intent and for keepers.  And for wildlife, I wait, and wait until the time is right.  And for landscapes, I shoot a lot of multi shot multi row panoramas.

Even with the few pics I get, I go through them and delete.  Those that don't have the composition quality, I delete.  Then I look for exposure and clarity, and delete.  Once I auto stitch the panoramas, the ones that don't meet my standard, I delete.  Then back up what's left.

And what's left are a few keepers.  And of those 100 or less, fewer than 3 will ever get posted online.  And each year the 30 or so picks that make it online, only 3 to 4 will ever be considered for print and gifts.

Thus, everyone has a system, and it will be based on their standards for what's a keeper.  Some will have high standards, others not.   And some shoot a lot while others don't. None is right or wrong.

Michael Firstlight Veteran Member • Posts: 3,712
Treat every frame as your last frame
2

As someone said, it depends on the job. If you are shooting events, it is a bigger challenge- especially weddings and the like. I am stunned the average wedding photographer is shooting in the thousands of frames per job. Their keeper and dupe rate must be horrendous (let alone the culling overhead in post).

I grew up on shooting film. Let me tell you, when you have to lug two RB67's around all day and have only 150-200 frames of film to shoot, you get very high yield. Shot selection is everything, and you learn fast how not to waste a single frame. That was 20, 30 years ago for me. When I went digital around 1999-2000 I didn't increase my frame rate much - just slowly over time as I began mixing in a more photo-journalistic style along with my traditional shots. Now maybe I shoot 500-800 for an entire event and deliver several hundred to the client - many others are keepers but dupes. I am glad I grew up with forced-conservative frame limits. Of course I learned a lot more with digital fast than I did using film, but there are things that many digital shooters are not as cognizant of because of lack of such constraints and poor understanding of many fundamentals. Give 'em my Mamiya RB67, or my Toyo 45AII 4x5 camera that I still shoot for the joy of it from time to time, and they'll learn right right quick.

I am a former full time pro. The mark of a pro is being able to deliver the job - every time, with high quality, and never fail. You can't. Shoot a wedding and it's a once in a lifetime thing. Forger the liability issues, you are messing with someone's dreams. Sometimes the limitation isn't the number of frames, the constraint is often time and/or subject opportunity. Shooting spray-and-pray style in those situation won't cover your ---. The mark of a pro or pro-class work is delivering high-quality images on time without fail for the client.

The pressure of taking paid jobs is like taking a shot of strong whisky. Anyone here that has taken on paying jobs knows exactly what I am saying, and it is likely one of the few natural constraints that remain that teach someone how to think in a manner that the frame you are about to burn is every bit as critical as the last frame of film on your last roll of film. Think like that and your keeper rate will skyrocket.

Michael

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