Behind the Camera – Getting the Shot

What happens behind the camera? What is the reasoning behind the choice of images you get to preview? Photography, like any other art, is very subjective. While there are rules of composition to follow, there are as many opinions as to what makes good images as there are photographers. Today I want to give you a little window into what is going through your photographer’s head when they choose the images to edit and send to you.

Let’s talk about why you don’t always see the images you are sure your photographer took. Those poses you remember in front of a tree, building, or pond but now that you have your proofs there is not a single one with that background. Why is that?

Good photographers are artists. They look at their work and decide if it measures up to their standards. A lot of digital photographers will keep only 1-2 images out of 20. Some high end sports photographers only keep about 1-2 images out of 100! 

Much of this depends on the situation. Sometimes, what I thought was going to turn out one way did not end up the way I imagined. I end up keeping more images from sessions with couples and older teens. The younger the kids, the more photos I take with a smaller rate of good images. Why? Those with kids will probably already know the answer. Small kids and pets are harder to get that perfect photo. But, that is why you hired a professional!

Here is a great example. I did a session with my niece several years ago. The session yielded some of my all time favorite photos. 

toddler girl with flowers

It also yielded a lot of images, while cute, were not ones that I would consider would make the cut for a client. Digital photography has given us the amazing ability to take more shots cheaper. I take full advantage of that!

Also, generally a good photographer will pick the best (or maybe sometimes the two best) of a series of shots and/or poses instead of sending you all of them. Why? Contrary to what you would think would be good customer service, it is actually easier on the customer to have just the best shot from each pose. Just as my mechanic would never give me a parts list and have me pick out what I think my car needs, I would not expect my clients to understand all that photography entails. They generally know what they like, but sometimes the difference between two images is a small change in focal point or added compositional detail that is a technical change that makes for a stronger photos. They are hiring someone that should understand photography and what makes a good image. Photographers should provide that service, not just a snap-shot. 


Again, here is another “keeper” image that I loved.

You can see below it the images that didn’t work. And, I bet you can imagine how the session was going. Let me say this to all the parents out there, THIS IS TOTALLY NORMAL.

This is a great time to talk about what you, as a client, should be able to expect from your photographer. If you chose a photographer that specifically states that they specialize in family portraits you can reasonably expect them to be able to have some skills in getting good photos of your kids. Also, kids are kids! No session I’ve ever done with kids was calm and peaceful.

Plus images of kids are so much better when they show their personality. 

You, as the parent, should be able to turn over the responsibility for great photos to the professional you hired. If you can’t do that then you should probably look at a different professional.

When I edit my photos, first, I find the ones I love. You will notice on my sessions page that I list a guaranteed minimum. These guaranteed images are generally those that I love the most. Then I often include the ones that I find to be okay; not amazing, but still good photos. My clients have always ended up with more than the guaranteed minimum.

Why do I do this? Some photographers only allow their best images to be seen. This falls into the category of branding (a whole other post that I can’t even do justice to so I will let the professionals try to explain branding). There is a fine line to walk with this. Yes, I want to to be known as someone that gets amazing photos and I have thought about only including the minimum images. But, one of my goals is for my clients to feel like they were well taken care of and feel like they got more than they paid for. Therefore, I include the best images and the good images in the photos I provide to my clients. 


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