We all know it, we've all answered it. It's the question that professional photographers dread hearing from clients. “Where are the rest of the images?” Typically, photographers provide clients with an estimated number of images they can expect to receive from their session. However, they also shoot a lot more at the session.
So why aren't those shared? What if you don't think you see an image you imagine you would love when it was shot? What if you feel that something was just missed? How come you can't make the final call? In short, you hired a professional based on what you saw in their portfolio, and their ability to replicate that consistently in their gallery presentations. You really just have to trust that the photographer has made the correct call in what to show you.
“Fine. But honestly, where are the rest of the images and why can't I see them? I heard you shooting almost 2-3X as many as are in the gallery.”
Photographers overshoot - the degree to which they do that, depends on the photographer, and the type of session. Some photographers have a low shoot ratio (low number of shots in relation to number of keepers), and some have a high. The reasons behind over-shooting can range from uncertainty about a situation or lighting, the inability to perhaps capture that one great family shot (eye blinks, expression changes), gear issues (trying a shot with a couple of different apertures, crops or angles), or simply not wanting to miss anything at the session. Whatever the reasons, the photographer never believes at any point in time that they will show you everything they shoot. Add to this, sometimes the photographer is testing out the light or just getting a feel for how you look behind the camera. Sometimes they want to shoot and move around you, to figure out just what makes you look best. Sometimes, especially in group shots, they are shooting quick because they are hoping that the one person whose expression or behavior isn't cooperating will turn it around without them having to address is, and that additional swapping and merging won't be necessary. Sometimes they are trying something new and there is never an intention that it will be shown, unless it surpasses their expectations. And sometimes, the shot just isn't good. Maybe there was action blur. Maybe your eyes were closed. Maybe a zipper was undone or a hand was not where it should be. Maybe they could see something inappropriate that required adjustment.
But whatever the reason, the photographer is showing you a gallery of images that has been culled and edited based on their experience of what will best represent their work that you hired them to create. For every gallery that comes out where the client wishes they saw “more,” there is a client that wishes their photographer had more carefully edited down. When clients are shown too many images, unless all are spectacular, they are left with the feeling of “These 5 family shots are all identical, I wonder if she felt she had to include them all because she didn't like the rest?” If a gallery is comprised of a few great shots and the rest “filler,” you will not feel any more satisfied than you would if you saw ALL the images.
And inevitably, if the photographer decides to include a sub-par shot from a series, that is the one shot the client will focus on and remember. So unless you feel that entire segments of your session are truly missing, or your photographer has provided you with no explanation, but less images than they promised you with your session fee, trust that they have culled their images, edited out the unusable or exact duplicates, and provided you with the range that they feel most represents their style. Quite often, asking for “more,” just because you believe more were shot, and for no other reason, will not net you with anything else that is usable, or that you would want.
As a client, do your homework and invest in someone that has the experience to create consistent galleries with variety... discuss your session goals, as well as what you can expect to receive as an outcome (not just volume, but a general idea of what is included in the gallery), and put your faith in that what you are seeing is the best of the best and enjoy what you receive rather than question or wish for what you did not!
~ The F Stops Here is an exclusive collection of articles by Design Aglow, designed to be used and shared by photographers. Look for this column twice monthly here on the Design Aglow Blog and feel free to grab & share on your site, blog and/or social media pages with a byline and link to DesignAglow.com.
From a very early age I loved taking pictures and looking at them in magazines and books, but the art of photography captured my heart when I was a teenager, on my first overseas trip to Wales. From that point, I began shooting with a little film SLR and having my friend model for me. In college I took some digital photography and visual communication courses as part of my communication studies major, and decided to pursue a career in photography. I became a legal business and took my first paid client at age 20, and it's been quite a journey and adventure over the past nine years.
I secretly bought a mail-order 35mm camera when I was 15, and took lots of ordinary photos of animals and nature for several years. Although I majored in art and studied photography in college, my career started in marketing and advertising, from the client service end. Then I had the most beautiful baby, found my old camera and realized how much I love photographing people.