Maine Family Photographer | How many pictures do you need?

When I teach photography to hobbyists one of the principles I talk about is minimizing our photography output. In the film days we had 12 -36 chances to tell the story. With digital cameras, we now have an almost unlimited number of snaps. The problem is that we can haphazardly accumulate an overabundance of digital photos. When I’m teaching moms I ask them to give me the number of photos they need to tell the story of a child’s 7th birthday. The answer is never 300. Yet, they will easily take 300 photos at a birthday party. Snapping pictures has become the thing some of us do. We don’t socialize, we don’t enjoy, we’re too busy looking for the moment we don’t want to miss with our cameras.

I coach moms to slow down and take 20-30 good, deliberate shots and keep 10 of them. Delete the rest. EVEN IF THEY’RE GOOD. Yes, you read that right, delete good pictures. You don’t need them. You can tell a story with 10 photos. Or 20. Heck, if it’s a big party with lots of details or relatives, shoot 90 and keep 30. You’ll never need more than that. I pinky promise you wont.

If you have four kids, like I do, you’ll endure (ahem) attend 72 birthday celebrations before they reach adulthood. If you took 300 photos at each birthday event, you’d have over 21,000 pictures to sort through when you want to walk down memory lane. That’s gross and downright irresponsible. And that’s just birthdays, let’s not forget all holidays, vacations, graduations, and if you’re into photography, you’ll bring your camera to every other birthday party and bbq you attend. Stop. Just stop. (that’s not me, that’s your computer’s hard drive begging you to shoot less and delete more).

As a professional photographer, I delete good photography every day. Gone. Deleted. Wiped off the face of the planet, forever. Actually I delete more than I keep. I’m a ruthless deleter, but that’s because I believe so strongly in the the ones I keep. I love them. They’re, well, keepers. They are photos that tell a story when strung together with other photos, and sometimes they tell a story on their own. You know how they say a picture is worth 1000 words, those are the pictures I want to make, and keep, and look back on. I don’t want 50,000 photos to dig through. Do you?