Have you ever printed 250 photographs and spread them out?

Image: iPhone via Double Exposure

I am now taking my time (my spare time of course!) and sifting through the 7 rolls of film I used while on vacation. As I am going through the physical prints of the trip, something hit me. “This is a TON of pictures!”. There are 252 to be precise.

Have you ever printed out 250 prints or more and spread them out in front of you? Then after they are there in all of their splendor – search for the handful of images that best represent the story you want to tell? It’s a challenge!

It made me think about the volume of images it is so easy to give a client. Recent years has brought the “Just shoot and give me a disc of images” mentality into full force. I have heard photographers say they deliver 1500+ images as a final edit. I can only imagine printing those 1500 proofs and spreading them out in front of me. I would most likely get overwhelmed and do the out of sight out of mind routine…

I have a feeling that most people that are on the receiving end of this feel the same way. The outcome is that the images stay on that disc never to see the light of day. Where is the value in that? The treasure? I suspect it becomes an island of indecision and the favorites worthy of putting in a book are never selected.

I believe there are a few problems that need addressed:

1. As photographers, we need to do a better job of editing. Editing means trimming the fat. Removing the images that take away the value of the standout images. It’s lazy to not be a good editor, because we then pass the responsibility onto the people we serve.

2. Educate our consumers. Value the services we provide in high regard with their best interest in mind.

3. Break the mentality of “Volume is Value.”

4. Start printing our work. Feel the pain. Sifting through prints vs a computer screen is like paying with cash vs using a credit card. When you pay with cash, there is a tangible feeling of letting it go. When you pay with a card, you don’t get that same feeling. So when you feel the urge to deliver 1,000+ images, just print them. Examine them, sift through and see if they are all worthy of being delivered.

I am going to return to my image selection process to make a priceless book for my family to treasure.

Do you struggle with editing? Have you tried being more brutal on your selections? What advice can you give us?

Comments 4

  1. This is something I’ve been trying to get better at, but truly still suck at. I read this article: http://www.digital-photography-school.com/delete-ruthlessly a month or two ago and ever since, I’ve felt convicted that I need to stop being such an image packrat! My hard drive is out of space. No lie. I just save too many pictures, and I’m not really telling a story…I’m delivering a filibuster. Thanks for the additional insight. Now I just need like 2 uninterrupted weeks to sort everything and delete, delete, delete.

  2. Jen I love how you always add value with your posts and comments. I love the idea of Delete Ruthlessly. I am going to read this now. Thank you for your insight and giving back! I hope you and the baby to be born are doing well!


  3. Excellent post! I love the analogy of cash vs. credit card. I’ve really been trying to limit the number of images I show clients to 25 – 35 (for family, kids, senior type sessions.) One problem I see is that I’ve also been thinking of offering coffee table books. Unfortunately, I think I’d need more images to design a 20 or so page book. Do I include some of the images that might help “tell the story” but didn’t make the cut for the gallery? If so, what if they complain because I didn’t include those images in the gallery? Love to hear your thoughts on this?

    1. Post

      Hi Missy! Great to hear from you. Quite honestly it is up to you and your own message as to what you want to show. I think some of the best photo books out there have 25 or less images in them. I love full page images and full spread images. One image on it’s own, IMHO is very powerful. For myself and my new book making adventures I am putting together my own stripped down books to get better with less is more presentation which will (I hope) improve the way I shoot too. I will put a post together about book making inspiration to get the conversation started. Thanks for writing!

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