“My dad always used to say, ‘It’s better to have 50 unbelievable photographs than 100 mediocre ones.’ It’s true. Before I push the shutter, I always ask myself, Would someone buy this photograph? If the answer is no, then I don’t take it.” -Andy Marcus from Professional Photographer, March 2010
This quote, from one of the truly elite wedding photographers in the world today, really got me thinking.
An old school photographer, when asked how many pictures he took at a wedding said “100”. That was about 5 or 6 rolls of 220 film, depending on the exact format. He knew exactly how many rolls of film he was dedicating to every wedding. This was a bit extreme, but I guess he had his system figured out. I’m afraid that, today, as digital imaging has come of age, we may have gone over the cliff in the opposite direction, routinely shooting 1,000, 2,000, 3,000 or more images at a wedding. And at really big weddings with 2 or 3 shooters, the sky’s the limit. Who’s counting, you say, since it is free. No more film, no more processing, no more paper proofs, what’s the big deal? Well, perhaps in our quest to shoot thousands of images, from which we pick a small percentage for an album and reprints, some of us have forgotten how to slow down, choose our moments, and really concentrate on getting unbelievable photographs.
So, one might ask, “Exactly whom are we shooting all these pictures for”? Most couples would be overwhelmed if we asked them to look at 3,000 or more pictures. We usually only need a hundred or so for the album, depending on the size. Do we enjoy editing through thousands of images? No one that I know does. So is it our collective insecurity? Do we think that since we’ve heard other photographers brag about how many images they shoot, we have to shoot more? With the ballooning numbers of part time and newcomer photographers shooting weddings these days, I suspect that there are many out there who think ,”if I shoot enough images, surely a certain percentage of them will be OK”. Maybe some think it’s easier to just shoot away than it is to really think and plan what they are shooting.
I would suggest that perhaps we need to heed Fred Marcus words and start concentrating more on quality than quantity.