How Many Pictures Are Too Many?

on May 16, 2021

Dale Neill recently posted a piece on Facebook comparing the hit rate of good results between the roll-film, 35mm, and digital eras. Like Dale himself, it was funny and dead-on accurate;

6 good shots whether the shooter was using 120 film, a 35mm cassette, or a digital card with 2000+ files on it.

As Dale said, it shows that we took a darn sight more care to get the exposure and composition right when we knew we were paying a higher price for it. The 19-year-olds can stop snorting their contempt and show us old geezers just how wrong we taking a good quality Ilford Sprite 35-II camera out right now. It will be loaded with a 24 shot film, features a flash, and is simple enough that you need not know how to double de-clutch a Studebaker truck to operate it.

You'll be able to show us that you can get at least 23 award-winners. And no need to worry about battery charging.

Now that we've disposed of the scoffers, let's ask ourselves how many images is the right number for any project. We've got a nearly unlimited supply in our memory cards and batteries - and if we give the Elinchrom time to cool down, in our studio flashes as well. But, like eating, photographing should be done to a sensible limit to prevent illness.

I would venture to shoot:

a. 12 portrait shots. And then the sitter would be tired and sad.

b. 6 food shots and then the hot food would be cold and the cold food would be hot.

c. 5 shots of a model airplane.

d. 8 shots of a hot rod car.

e. 100 shots of a wedding. 5 only if it is a Hollywood marriage as you will be picking up the other 95 on the next ceremonies.

f. 24 shots for a holiday trip.

g. 6 garden shots.

And you can carry on with all the other genres. Shoot more if someone is paying for it - batteries are rechargeable and even shutter fingers eventually uncramp. But be honest with yourself when you look at the results and see if you haven't really gotten what you needed in the above numbers.

Note: NLF...Nothing Lasts Forever. The day after I typed this the memory card in my small studio camera clocked in with an irreparable card error. I was lucky to have a spare but now I need to buy a spare spare. The price of progress. At least now I can get a faster one.