The Vetting Process

It seems that the more I shoot in various capacities, the fewer shots I take in any given scenario, primarily because I am thinking “yeah, the light’s not right”, or “I don’t have the right lens”, or some other obstacle is preventing me from getting the shot I really want. Whether it’s me being more selective in the shots I take, or something else, is entirely open…case in point, at a recent sports event, I captured less than 500 photos. Of those 500, only 24 got pulled for client delivery, and of those 24, I was really only particularly happy with 2-3 of those shots. Is that being too picky?

The Whole Schmear

The Whole Schmear

The Choices

The Choices

The Selects

The Selects

The Hero

The Hero

So, (and I know this will be specific to the type of photography), the question comes to mind for me: What is a good pull rate? Should I be keeping half my shots? 25%? 10? What percentage should I be pulling from a shoot to deliver to a client?

Clearly, many of the images are thrown in the digital dumpster, but I am wondering whether I should be keeping more for delivery, or for “recovery” at a later date when software improves even further? Is it even worth keeping those? What are the odds I’ll come back in five years saying “If only I had a shot of a hockey player in a white-and-blue jersey center-framed against a white and yellow wall”? My guess is slim to none, so why bother keeping those shots?

Hence the question – what is the average pull rate for photography work? Only client pulls? Client pulls + 10%? +25%? Would really be interested in hearing what others deem to be “acceptable” pull percentages, so please – sound off in the comments and let me know your thoughts…

In the meantime, keep on shooting, and we’ll see you back here again tomorrow!

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6 comments for “The Vetting Process

  1. October 5, 2010 at 5:06 am

    24 hours of Spa (sportcar race). More than 3600 shots. Finally less than 350 have survived. 15 shots are “good shot!!” and no more than 5 are “wow!!!!”.
    As you have stated, may be this is related to the kind of event, but ….

  2. udi
    October 5, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    That depends, I think I would settle for a very few today. not far from your numbers. If the client is involved in the proofing process than I pull in more. And of course it all depends on how may photographs you promised to deliver…

  3. October 6, 2010 at 5:52 am

    I was contracted by some high school hockey parents to shoot a game last year. I took 1,350 shots and kept 448 of them. I was also shooting for faces around the bench so the parents could have a picture of each kid in uniform.

    What was your criteria for keeping a shot? Did you need to see the numbers on the jersey? Did a lot of yours turn out blurry too?

  4. October 6, 2010 at 6:29 am

    A good friend who has been a pro for decades now (the guy who pushed me to show my photos too) told me his rule. 10% of what you shoot will be good. And from that 10% you’ll find 10% of those that are gems.

    Now, I don’t sit around counting images while sorting, but when all is said and done I sure do find about 10% of the images I really like, and from those about 10% that make it on to canvas in my shop.

    • October 7, 2010 at 6:59 am

      Ah yes, the 10% rule strikes again…I’ve heard this number bandied about too. Just wondering how often it holds up under scrutiny. Thanks Rich! 🙂

  5. October 7, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    I shoot college volleyball–men’s and women’s, in season. I shoot so the players and their parents have action shots and for images I can assemble into a collage for senior pictures. I post on a web site and anyone can view or order prints. In a 5-set match I’ll shoot 250-350 images and will post 1/4 to a 1/3–60 to 100 images or so. I’m pleased when I get a couple of “wow” shots per match. VB, like hockey, is fast, so anticipation is crucial to getting the shot. Remember your audience and client base and what they want. If they’re satisfied with the images you make, then the number of images you don’t keep is irrelevant.

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