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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Subject: What's your photo hit rate?
Thom Hogan is a pro photographer who says a lot of interesting things.  After a recent comment of his, he followed up with this:

...it appears that some of you (used to) think that pros just go out and shoot 100% keepers. A good pro will generally have a higher keeper rate than a good amateur, but it's still not 100%. And that's for "normal" shooting. Throw in an animal moving randomly and an attempt to do something aggressive like pan blur, and the keeper rate for even the best pro will be low. If I recall correctly, Art Wolfe used to say that he shot hundreds of rolls of film (thousands of shots, perhaps more than ten thousand) to get the 125 images for his book Rhythms of the Wild.

That's a 1% hit ratio for a book.  I like to get one great shot and a dozen good shots for every 500 shots.  How well do you fare?
BLEARGH
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Member since Jul 2009 · 3 posts
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sounds a bit like fishing really..... you try and try and you suck and suck and you get a few good fish here and there, then you get that one massive fish! and you feel so great about it! and like fishing, the better you are at it, the more likely you are to catch big fish! ........ personally i would prefer fishing. at least its a great excuse to sit on your arse for most of the time and do nothing heheheeh
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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Yeah, like modelling for me would be SUCH HARD WORK, ya lazy girl.


Oh yeah, I remember why I brought this up:

People occasionally ask what they can do to improve their photography.  One of the top three things is keep shooting.  Even if your hit rate is absurdly low, if you take enough shots and keep trying, you'll end up with a decent gallery accidentally after a while.

Some days I feel like such a fraud, especially when people pay me.  Who gets paid to screw up 95% of the time, on a good day?  It's bizarre.
BLEARGH
This post was edited 2 times, last on 2010-03-25, 20:06 by NFG.
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Member since Nov 2007 · 121 posts
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Hmm well I usually take 2 of each shot and then refocus and a slightly different angle for 2 shots if it's something static that I really want a decent picture of. Given that at any given times I've taken my camera out I shoot between 150 and 300 shots and tend to end up with about 20 that are usable on a slightly higher than point and shoot level, I think that's not bad. Probably not many that are acceptable to you though. I don't spend nearly enough time using my camera and still have plenty to learn about the functions.
"...either stop and think or fuck right off" (TheOutrider)
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Member since Sep 2007 · 176 posts · Location: Kobe, Japan
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My hit rate changes from day to day and subject.
I remember a random day were I shot about 30 shots and got 10 I really liked. 30%..O_o wow..
When shooting a subject I have had experience with (rock climbing, parkour) my hit rate is probably about 10 - 15 out of 100; those photos being good by absolute amateur wannabe standards.
And when shooting something new..5 out 100? maybe? I remember doing a shoot for a small drama group, took about 200 shots, got maybe 2. That day sucked. Went back and did it again got about 10 for 200.

So thats hit rate for reasonable shots, for shots that I consider to be really good I probably only get 1 in 500 or so. I need to work on that I think.
“Be conservative in what you do; be liberal in what you accept from others.” J. Postel
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Member since Apr 2009 · 59 posts · Location: Bendigo
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My hit rate changes fairly violently depending on what I'm shooting and how long it's been since I've taken photos. When I look out my window and see good light I invariably pick up the camera and go into the garden to shoot, and often wander the streets taking shots. When this happens I usually take around 1- 200 photos, liking maybe 10 of them enough to consider actually looking at them again. But I can go out taking some parkour shots and get maybe one photo I truly like out of the 2-300 I'll take.

One thing's for sure; the more often you get that lens cap off, the better you become at finding those shots. Some of my favourite photos are the ones hidden amongst the 100's of similar shots, but they're made brilliant for the fact that I just guessed at what settings felt right and took a random shot.
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Member since Jan 2010 · 10 posts · Location: Melbourne
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Showing my age a little here, but I learnt the hard way over 22 years ago, using film (yes, that ancient stuff nobody knows about anymore). I last used film for a wedding in Sept 2007 and still have some rolls in the fridge.

Unlike with digital where you can learn instantly from your mistakes (with nil running costs), you had to finish the entire roll if you wanted to make it cost effective, wait for the lab to finish processing it (if you didn't have the facilities yourself) and then go through the prints. The quickest you could expect this would be 60-90 mins after shooting, but generally it would be a few hours/overnight (or even 4-5 days if using the likes of Kodachrome slide film). An average quality roll of 36 exposure print film would cost about $8 at the time, and another $15 or so to process, slide film about $10 and $10. I wasn't exactly well off, so in that regard, I had to learn to make every shot count, and as a result I brought my strike rate up gradually over time.

If I wasn't getting around 30 out of 36 shots right I was disappointed. I have carried that same level of expectation over to digital. I look at every opportunity as being a once-only chance to capture it, something that cannot be repeated so that in my mind I know I have to get it right the first time. The upside to this is that it also means I have less photos to edit in the end! You could shoot hundreds, if not thousands of pics at a wedding for example, but shooting economically and accurately will give the same/similar results with less time post-processing if you do it right the first time :)

So, what's my hit rate like now? If it's technically sound shots that clients/others are happy with, I'd say 90%. Right royal screw ups are deleted straight away but even so, I'm still happy with at least 70% of my shots, but then again, I am my own worst critic.

As for those right royal screw ups, I remember taking a particular shot on film about 8-10 years ago at the Gold Coast Miss Indy finals. If you'd shot it on a digital camera and reviewed it casually you'd have hit delete straight away. It was badly blurred, or so you'd think. But one thing was tack sharp - her eye, which was looking straight into the lens. Winner! Freaky shot, but you'd have never thought so looking at a 2" screen. You'd have hit "delete" and be none the wiser. So, don't delete pics until you've seen them enlarged on your computer screen ;)

Speaking of deleting digital pics vs film, I remember reading about a press photographer who took the first ever shot of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinski in public. I think he was shooting for Time magazine. When the scandal broke, he remembered seeing her before and so he dug through his film archive and found it. It was an otherwise nondescript pic of The President hugging a well-wisher at a fundraiser/convention. He was the only press photographer shooting film that day. All the others would have more than likely deleted their pics at the time as she was a nobody back then. The expression on her face, in hindsight, was priceless.
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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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What are you taking photos of, Dish?  Your comments about making every shot count are definitely true, but I kinda believe that - for the kind of photography I do, and possibly Junpei as well - a low hit rate is unavoidable.  Taking pics of girls on a beam in a gym isn't easy, and so she does the same thing six times and I take two or three shots of it each time.  That adds up, and I have to wonder if a film shooter wouldn't do the same thing when trying to shoot the same events?

Same with models.  You can get a hundred shots of a pretty girl on your couch, but only one of them will be the one with everything just perfect.  The once-only shots for me are the unexpected ones, and for that I rely on reflexes, skill and luck.  For the rest, I dunno.  I can't imagine expecting to get it right in one go no matter how awesome you are, for the stuff I shoot.  For others, like pics of cars, macro, product shots etc...  Well sure.  When you control everything, it seems easier.  For moving people, I don't know if the same expectations can apply.

Guy I work with is doing a photography course, and he spends a lot of time on each shot.  For every image he makes, I've got fifty: different angles, settings, etc.  His week-long plan for a single shot takes the fun out photography, for me.

As for deleting...  The only ones I delete are the ones that are completely wrong, blurry etc.  I keep the rest, and with HDD prices so cheap, I keep 3 copies of every shot.  =)
BLEARGH
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Member since Jan 2010 · 10 posts · Location: Melbourne
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Workwise, I am doing real estate stuff at the moment mainly. I'm usually on a tight schedule, so only have one opportunity to get the requested shots done within say 20-30mins before heading to the next appointment.
Selecting the best angle for a shot of a kitchen or bathroom, making sure that the area is tidy and devoid of distracting elements, looking at all reflective surfaces to avoid anything unappealing showing up (like a bin or my tripod and feet LOL) can take a few precious minutes. I don't have the luxury of time when there's a real estate agent standing there watching the clock and thinking of where he/she has to be next.

Having to head back for a reshoot at a later date/time because I stuffed up puts unwanted pressure on me, makes my boss look bad, aggravates the agent and vendor... so is best to be avoided!

As for weddings, as a photographer you have very little control over the timetable so you truly only get one crack at most things. I can imagine that your action photography would be in a similar boat, but in terms of mission critical stuff, a wedding just does your head in LOL

I also do a bit of automotive stuff. Last weekend I was at Phillip Island for a classic car event (just shooting for myself this time) where there were many categories out all day but only for a few laps at a time, perhaps 10-15 mins per session. If this was a paid gig as I've done in the past, you'd be out all day mapping your movements over the vast track surrounds, knowing you only had a few chances to get each session with good lighting throughout the day. Race cars aren't slow, so composing and capturing them in motion isn't an easy feat. In the pits, the cars are being constantly moved around, worked on, surrounded by spectators and other photographers. Nothing is ever still. I rarely feel in control at events like that!

Set-up shoots, whether it be cars or portraiture, are really relaxed by comparison, well for me at least :)
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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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I can see the sort of stuff you're doing lending itself well to getting it right the first time.  Your subject doesn't move, doesn't glare at you when you crack a cleavage joke, doesn't take six tries to get it exactly right.  You're in control, basically.  The instant review of digital makes you quite capable of getting it right fast.

Weddings scare me.  I'm sure I'll shoot one eventually, but at the moment I'm not keen to take on that level of stress.  =)
BLEARGH
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Member since Jan 2010 · 10 posts · Location: Melbourne
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No, very little in the way of cleavage to joke about in my line of work :D

I did have to shoot a bathroom 4 times today. Same angle. 4 times. First time, I left a bathmat in the pic that the vendor didn't want in the shot (derrrr why'd you leave it there then?). Second time I got it right sans mat but accidentally deleted that instead of the avec mat pic when showing her the results. oops. Third time it came up overexposed. Fourth time, got it, but by then it was dark outside - so I'm unhappy with it.

I did get a home-grown cucumber from her though. Yes, photography has its perks.
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