What % of your pictures do you consider worth keeping and sharing?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Keleko, Jan 2, 2012.

  1. Keleko macrumors 68000

    Mar 26, 2008
    While on vacation last week I took a little over 1,000 images. The count adds up fairly quickly when doing 3 bracketed shots of scenes for potential HDR processing, but that's still a lot of images to go through. Most of my shots are random events with family as they happened. After going through them all I found about 100 that I really like and want to share. There's probably 200-300 that are at least "ok", but don't make the final cut for various reasons.

    This 10% seems to hold true for other stuff I've done, too, like HS football, or even lower since football is harder to catch action than vacationing family. Does this hold up with everyone else's photos? And what do you do with the non-keepers? I often delete the ones I throw into the reject pile just because I don't want to use up the disk space. I usually keep everything that ends in the "OK" pile.
  2. flosseR macrumors 6502a


    Jan 1, 2009
    the cold dark north
    I have a different method but yes 10% seems to be the overall ok.. in some instances it is more, in some less.. a LOT less :)

    Personally I use the "star" system a lot.
    I do the first pass that is purely REJECT.. so i reject all the shots that definitely are rejected and on a normal day that is close to 30% right there.
    Then I use the different star levels to assign how good a shot it. 1-5, 5 being the best.
    After that i go through it again and assign the stars differently
    from 3-5 and those that don't make the cut at all. Then in the last round I do the same again but only with 5 stars or nothing.

    So, i end up with very few shots but all the ones i like. the rest gets deleted
    Reject= delete n my book.

    You could argue that I loose maybe shots that i would want later.. but I don't usually think so and i haven't regretted any deletion yet.. :)
  3. Keleko thread starter macrumors 68000

    Mar 26, 2008
    I use "stars" all the time, too. I usually don't go much beyond 2-3 stars unless I really have to weed down to a specific number for some reason. I only went to 2 stars with the vacation stuff because mostly family is going to see them, and they usually want to see more pictures. I'm considering making a photobook, too, so I may weed further to get best shots for the book and not have a huge expensive book.

    I don't actually use "reject" that often, though I did with my vacation photos because I didn't want to actually delete any until I returned home. My usual tactic is anything without at least 1 star is a reject. I will go through the reject pile one more time to make sure something didn't accidentally end up there, or I see something I thought was poor may have some use after all. Then I will delete them at some point.
  4. TheDrift- macrumors 6502a


    Mar 8, 2010
    For me I'd say 10% on a very good day...I would say more usually down to 1-5%.

    For family shots the rate is much higher, but i would only really show those to family
  5. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    No more than 10% of my shots are the 1st rate "keepers" often fewer. That said, I often will look at older shots that I didn't rate highly back then, and see something that I like after all. The benefit of time and distance.

    Following some advice I got on this thread, this is how I rate my images.

    1st pass - anything worth a 2nd look gets one star. I make this pass very quickly and don't try to analyze the images. Basically - if it is in focus and relatively well exposed it gets a star, if it's a reject it doesn't get a start.

    This step goes very quickly.

    2nd pass - again - a quick pass. Do I want to spend any time on this image or not? If I don't want to spend time on, no 2nd star. If I could see spending some time it gets a 2nd star. While this is supposed to be a quick pass, sometimes you have to zoom in to see the focus, check someone's eyes, etc - but I try to keep this to a minimum. I want this pass to be quick. Sometimes I cheat and award a 3rd star if I can already see this image has potential to go to 4 or 5 stars.

    At this point I've selected only a fraction of the images I started with, and the time investment has been small. Going from 2 to 3 stars takes a bit more time - and even more time to hit 4 and 5 stars.

    Hope this helps.
  6. steveash macrumors 6502


    Aug 7, 2008
    I think that is the great thing about digital - you can take as many pictures as you like at the same cost. Although when using film my 'keepers' number is far higher, when using digital I will experiment with more composition variations and pick out the best later. I think the lesson to learn is not to use this freedom to snap away at anything in the hope that you might get something!

    When shooting commercially (say for an advertising project) I can take hundreds of shots and only keep one for the client. So maybe between 1% and 10% will be actually used. When travelling or shooting personally between a third and half of my pictures will be good enough to put in an album and perhaps 10% I would put on the wall or sell as a print.
  7. Artful Dodger macrumors 68020

    Artful Dodger

    May 28, 2004
    In a false sense of reality...My Mind!
    Interesting, I just looked through my air show photos from 2011, 1235 photos over two days. Seems different doing an event because there were a bunch of photos that were similar in nature however "keepers" would be 400-415. Doesn't seem very good but I had never tried doing this before so it was very good practice. All in all that would be about 32% and that is because I didn't want to keep similar photos and chose the best looking ones with the sky, color, sharpness, composition and so on.

    I tend to save 5-10% above that because I can use some stuff for other art work like the background or surrounding areas. I will leave those as 1 star and file them in reference folders titled as such; 2011 air show-F18 vapor trail or whatever this way I know to toss the rest of the photo out with no lost feelings.

    I'd say for sports or family way less, I don't care how blurry, I'm not saving uncle whoever for memory when it looks like he is having a fit or passed out :cool:

    I tend to take few pictures anyway but have forced myself this year to take more, star them and ask what is wrong here which just happens to be a folder name of mine. I'll go over them and then toss them out after making a few notes about the event for later use. I think in 2010 I tossed out 15GB of photos from 20GB by doing this. I now do this every 3-4 months to keep control on my storage space and it helps me learn if I'm a repeat offender of doing something wrong.
  8. Sideonecincy macrumors 6502

    Sep 29, 2003
    If I go on a vacation, I will save every photo, just in case. I did a road trip from Ohio to Oregon this year and I saved all raw files before processing any. After processing them, I would say I actually kept 10-15% of photos.

    If I am doing more serious work or somewhere I can go back to, I delete most of the RAW photos, then might keep 5% of the processed photos.
  9. VI™ macrumors 6502a

    Aug 27, 2010
    Shepherdsturd, WV
    What's a keeper? Technically correct or a photo that's used in some context like being posted on the net or being delivered to a client?

    I rarely shoot events or times when I'm shooting massive amounts of photos and when I do I'm careful with what I shoot. I shot something like 300 photos at an all day event and delivered 100. This was for a friend's company and that why I even shot an event in the first place.

    Most of what I shoot is modeling or in the style of commerical and editorial work and involves lighting setups and posing people. After my test shots for exposure look good, I have everything set to the point where small changes here and there won't affect the overall look. Shoots like this I may shoot 50 photos and deliver between 1 and 10 depending on what the client is looking for.

    Out of all those, maybe 10%-15% get tossed for having technical issues. Maybe more if I'm shooting an event in the dark and have to result to manual focusing.


    About 300 photos for 8GB for an 18mp file, irrc. I got 266 at 21mp on my last 8gb card.

    8GB * 125 = 1TB
    300 * 125 = 37,500 photos

    So it's about $100 per 37,500 photos you keep, with the option to choose as you go and not after spending the money on film and developing.. That's a lot cheaper than film. :D
  10. andalusia macrumors 68030


    Apr 10, 2009
    Manchester, UK
    10% seems about average, although personally it feels like a bit much! I'm probably too much of a perfectionist though :p
  11. Flore macrumors regular

    Jun 21, 2008
    Usually when I shoot a "project" - be it people or cities etc - I tend to "select" around 10 to 20% of the shots that I transfer to my computer - but I do delete a lot in camera already most of the time. So the actual number is maybe more like 5%. Out of those 5% maybe 10% I consider really remarkable - on average. It's always different of course.

    So all in all - less than 1 percent :)
  12. sneil2 macrumors member


    Feb 21, 2010
    Lancashire, England
    I only photograph my dogs and pups (when we have them!) so a good 99.9% of the photographs are no good as they all fidget too much. lol
  13. andalusia macrumors 68030


    Apr 10, 2009
    Manchester, UK
    That number seems a bit low :confused: ;) :p
  14. sneil2 macrumors member


    Feb 21, 2010
    Lancashire, England
    I'm really new (3 days) to taking photo's with a real camera.
    Until I got the J1 I was just using the camera on my phone. I'm wanting to learn how to take photo's rather than just pot luck if I get a good shot or not! :p
  15. andalusia macrumors 68030


    Apr 10, 2009
    Manchester, UK
    Congratulations on your first (of many) camera purchase, and your foray into the photography world! :)

    What I meant by my post was that I'm surprised you can even get 0.1% of good photos of your pets... Mine rustle and move so much it's more like 0.0000001% :p
  16. someoldguy macrumors 68000

    Aug 2, 2009
    Usually I save everything from a session in a folder with that day's date . Then I run through the shots and pull out those I think are worthwhile . Don't use stars or anything , just " Hey that looks pretty good". THese images , maybe 15% , go into a named folder . Then I'll cull out maybe half for whatever processing I'm going to do , renaming the processed file so I know its been messed with . So , by the time I'm done , maybe 5-7%.
  17. DSPalpatine macrumors member

    Nov 9, 2009
    Back in the days of film, when each frame cost a relatively significant sum of money to develop and print, we'd worry about GOPRR- Good Ones Per Roll Ratio. Different people had different numbers- 6 of 36, 9 of 36, etc. I used to buy into this thinking, until I read an article by Dewitt Jones, who said that the only thing that matters is "Did I get the shot?" While I still don't like to run-and-gun with my camera (you know, setting your camera on continuous shooting mode and taking 9-20 shots of a non-moving scene in the span of 30 seconds), I find I'm less worried about percentages or ratios. What matters is if I got THE SHOT.

    Over the past weekend, on a trip, I shot about 500 images over 3 days. I ended up with 50 that I would be proud to post online, and three that I think would merit being enlarged to a 20" x 30" print to hang on a wall. I suppose that the OPs 10% rule applies, but it's not a conscious decision, and it varies according to the shoot. I shot a friend's wedding a few years ago, and my 'print it at 20" x 30" ' number was around 50%.

    As for what I do with them when I'm done? I rarely delete. If it's terribly out-of-focus, or if the exposure is so far out of whack that I can't recover it in Aperture or Photoshop, then I'll most likely delete it. Other than that, I keep them. Storage is cheap, and you never know if a shot will be useful somewhere else down the line.
  18. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I'm in the 30% and under category. I seems that about 1/3 of my pictures are keepers.
  19. h1r0ll3r macrumors 68040


    Dec 28, 2009
    I'd say probably around 20% or so. I take multiple shots of any given subject/event just so I have a couple to choose from at the end. I'll change up some settings, i.e. flash/without flash, higher/lower ISO, etc, to get different shots of the same shot essentially. Of the three or so shots I take, generally 2 of them are trashed just for whatever reason. For me, I find shooting in triplicates cuts down on the "damn this pic sucks, wish I had taken it using a different setting" regrets that I had when using my P&S before. Some shots are keepers just for the fact that I don't have the time to switch up settings or what have you so I'm generally stuck with those regardless of outcome.
  20. Melizard macrumors 6502


    Jun 4, 2011
    I'm a photo hoarder...

    I will go through and delete really bad ones, but then I will make a "good pics" folder for that trip/event/whatever and put the best ones in there, maybe 30% of the photos. (I don't delete the others). Most of those go on facebook. The ones I really like and share (maybe .05% of my photos) go on flickr. I've taken thousands of photos this year. I think this number will get lower when I get better. Right now I go by the theory that if I take tons of photos, maybe I will have better odds that some will turn out to be good.
  21. neutrino23 macrumors 68000

    Feb 14, 2003
    SF Bay area
    Hard to say. When I just want to document something then I keep well over half. Maybe 90%. When I'm going for an effect as in a portrait or a difficult macro shot that requires good lighting then I'm lucky to keep one in ten.

    Since I've gotten a better camera and lenses and a really good tripod and ball head the number of obviously bad shots has plummeted.
  22. Macman45 macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
    Probably most except the personal ones of my wife who passed away in 1997

    I tend to delete all photos that I'm not satisfied with.....and thats a lot. Any pro photographer will tell you they do the same.

    20 shots= maybe 9 or ten worth keeping.
  23. -hh macrumors 68020


    Jul 17, 2001
    NJ Highlands, Earth
    A good observation. In the film days, I can remember many times where I'd stumble across an opportunity and blow an entire roll. I can't say that it was "always" worth it, but usually so.

    This illustrates that there's keepers and then there's KEEPERS, so it depends on if you're asking about the yield of "3 star" or of "5 star" images.

    And similarly, the application can cause the yield rate to vary tremendously...as another example, in the old days of film for underwater photography, while novices often save ~33% of their first few rolls, once the critical eye kicks in, the rule of thumb was "1 per dive" (which is 1 per roll of 36), which mathematically is 3%. The good news for UW photo is that the deeper magazine of digital allows a lot more photos per dive, which results in more 'keepers' per day.

    I hold also (probably "too much"), partly because the digital storage is pretty cheap, but also because with the newer technologies, more shots are becoming technically 'correct' (exposure, focus, etc) and as others point out, there might be some other use for a shot someday for something I don't necessarily recognize today. for me, this even includes "really bad stuff", since even these can be useful in photography conversations to quickly illustrate what the results look like from various mistakes, etc.

  24. Phrasikleia macrumors 601


    Feb 24, 2008
    Over there------->
    I guess it depends on how you define "picture." I think of a picture as a distinct scene that I've pursued, as opposed to the total number of exposures involved, but perhaps you are asking about the latter. Anyway, at least with my landscapes, I tend to commit to a scene and then work at it until the ephemera at the time are no longer likely to produce anything better than what I've already captured. This kind of commitment may mean five, ten or even dozens of exposures of exactly the same composition. If what I'm seeing keeps getting better, I keep shooting.

    I'm extremely picky about when I will make this kind of commitment. I very often visit some beautiful location, decide it's not looking its best at that time, and then leave without taking a single photo, or maybe with only a few reference shots that I do not intend to process and share--they're just images that will help me to plan a return visit. I don't count these reference shots as "pictures" that factor into my keeper ratio.

    So, of all of my "pictures" (i.e. distinct scenes) how many ever make it out of Lightroom? I just skimmed through a bunch of my folders, and it looks like there are at least four rejected scenes for every one keeper: roughly 20% make the cut. If that seems high, it's because I'm not counting individual exposures and because I'm extraordinarily picky about when I'll even bother to take my camera out of the bag.

    That's the rough tally for my landscapes. I also do a lot of documentary, event, and product photography, and those are very separate cases. The event work is particularly challenging because the subjects (people who are not posing or being directed in any way) are so unpredictable. Murphy's law dictates that people at events will twist their lips, close their eyes, or move in some unflattering way at precisely the wrong time. My keeper rate for events is pretty low (maybe 5%?).

    As for what I do with the rejects: I keep them. I delete anything that is a complete misfire and keep the rest. If nothing else, the rejects remind me of what NOT to do in the future. ;)

    Yeah, that's a good point. I definitely have a hierarchy of keepers: 1) Those I'll share with friends. 2) Those I'll share on an online forum. 3) Those that I'll include in my printed portfolio. The last category is quite small, maybe ten or twelve shots per year.
  25. seenew macrumors 68000


    Dec 1, 2005
    I rarely delete a photo entirely. Unless it is out of focus or a misfire, I keep everything.
    How many do I share? Given my field, probably less than 5%. How many make it into my portfolio? Less than 1%. Far less.

Share This Page