A guest post by Vivian Chen.
One question that clients often ask is “How many images are we going to get?” When you are starting out, you may also be wondering what is the proper amount of photos to release to your clients. Having worked with a lot of different photographers, everyone has their own final amount. Some may release all the unedited shot images to the client while also releasing a small set amount that have been edited and color corrected. Others may release only a set amount of edited and color corrected images to the client.
When thinking about the numbers, you must keep in mind the variables that come into play such as the amount of coverage hours, number of photographers shooting and amount of events covered. Obviously a three hour elopement wedding shoot will have significantly less images than a two-day Indian wedding celebration. Each event will have a different total to be released to your clients.
In general, when I am editing a wedding that I second shot with another photographer, we will end up with about 3-5,000 images for a six or eight hour wedding. I’ve found that after culling the images, we will end up with about 600-800 images to edit and color correct for our clients. That works out to be about 100 images per hour of coverage. 100 images per hour is a great rule of thumb to use when estimating how many images clients can expect to receive.
However, this is not a hard and fast rule. Like I mentioned before, variables of the day will alter the final number. The main thing to keep in mind is quality outweighs quantity. Releasing 1,000 images to your client will not have the same impact if the majority of those images are repetitive or don’t help in telling the story of the day. If you have 50 portraits of the bride, but 20 of them basically look the same (same angle, same lighting, similar facial expression), you will only succeed in overwhelming the bride with too many similar choices. Learning to edit effectively is important. Giving your client 500 strong images is better than 1,000 weak ones. If you need convincing on this, read How to Instantly Improve the Quality of Your Work.
Some clients may see this as getting less, when in fact by providing a stronger edit you are adding additional service. Instead of forcing the client to sort through several thousand images, you have done some of the work so it's not quite so hard on your client. Communicate this as a level of service and educate your clients to want quality over quantity.
Be mindful of this when you shoot. As long as you are capturing the key moments, the numbers will usually work out and allowing you to present a powerful collection of images to clients. The quality of your work will speak for itself. What do you think?
Vivian is a long-time studio assistant for several well known San Francisco photographers. Her roles include second shooting, editing and color correcting, album design, customer service and studio operations. Because she is familiar with the inner workings of some of the best studios in town, she knows how to streamline day to day operations to keep everything working smoothly. In her free time, she works at building her own photo business. PhotoMint readers, please sharing your thoughts in the comments below.
To read more of Vivian’s thoughts, check out 10 Tips Every Second Shooter Should Know and Shoot Like An Editor to Minimize Your Time in Post.