How many photos should I get from my wedding?

Thirty years ago, every time you clicked the shutter, there was a cost. A frame of film was exposed, had to be processed, developed and printed. Every roll of film, 36 frames or less, took time to change in the camera. The number of photos that could be taken at a wedding was limited.

These days, images can be taken as fast as you can click the shutter; faster if you shoot in burst mode. And memory cards are getting bigger, allowing hundreds if not thousands of images before the card needs changed out.

There is a physical cost in wear and tear on your SLR camera, but the cost per click has definitely been reduced - or has it? 

So if it is easy to take so many images, how many should you expect from your wedding photographer?

What do you need?

Knowing that you can take a lot of pictures doesn't mean that you should. How many pictures, after all, are you going to hang on your wall? How many are you going to put in your wedding album to show your friends? For that matter, how many are you going to post on Facebook? 

Are you prepared to take the time that is required to weed through all the images the photographer took on your wedding day? Do you realize what that means? If you are the one taking the pictures, there is an additional cost you may not think of; the additional hard drive space you will need to keep them all and their backups. 

Capturing that one perfect image is not easy, and it can take several attempts, but spraying the subject with images is not the best way. Finding the image, creating it, or anticipating it, and capturing it at just the right moment - that's the trick that will reduce the number of images you will have to sort through, and give you only the ones you really want.

Capturing the right moment.

These days I click that shutter less than I used to. Capturing the right moment in the right way is more important than capturing every single moment as it flies by, and that means pausing for a second to think about what is being captured. It means taking time to pose subjects and place them correctly in the foreground and against the background. It means finding the right quality of light and angle of light. It means creating the image before you click the shutter.

Even when the moments are flying by and there is no way to pose or arrange the image, anticipation is key - trying to anticipate where your subject will be to capture them just as they pass a particular place - the perfect place - and being ready at that moment to click the shutter. Admittedly, a short spray of images at that time might be appropriate, but not a long spray.

The cost in time...

There is an additional cost after the images have been taken when you take so many. It takes a lot of time to sort through them, edit them, select them and prepare them. Let's do some simple math; typically I take between 1000-1500 photos from a full day of wedding shooting. If I look at each image for just 15 seconds to do a quick colour correction and re-render, that's over 6 hours. And that's just the first pass.

From that number, I will select what I consider to be album worthy images and that can reduce the number to 200-300 images. That typically is another pass through the images of 5 seconds each (still of the 1500), moving the good ones to a new folder - that's an addition 2 hours. Each of those 300 images may require some additional attention which can add another 4 hours of time.

Not all of those images will necessarily make it to an album - usually that is reduced to 150-200 images, but they will be arranged into an album of 30+ pages, each page taking a minimum of 15 minutes, so that's an added 8 hours to put the album together. 

As I'm working through those images, I will separate out a couple of dozen images that are "Frame" worthy that can be selected from if the Bride chooses to have a nice framed print for their wall. Each of these images receives extra special attention - perhaps another 15 minutes each, or about 4 more hours.

Have you been adding that up? All of those numbers are conservative, but 6+2+4+8+4=24 hours of post processing... minimum. So, for every 60 images taken, that's about one hour of post processing. WOW. 

It's so much better to get 60 great images than 600 might-have-a-good-one shots!

Time to slow down that frame rate! After all, it's not Video... but that's another story.

So how many should you get?

So how many images should you get? Honestly, in the end, you will probably get more than you need. Really the question is not so much how many should you get, but rather what is the quality of the images you receive and will they be given to you in such a way as to make it easy to find the really great images.

Perhaps in the end, the answer is really ... just one really good one!

(c) 2013 Gary Scott - Gary's Lens Photography


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