The best photographers get lucky far more often than other, less skilled, photographers. It's a matters of ratio!! AA was not a "one-hit-wonder".
If we're going by the 10,000 hour rule, mathematically speaking, I suppose the snapper would end up with the most filing cabinets of duds, but just as many successful images as a slow and methodical photographer. That's if we're ignoring subjectivity and only go by what the curators tell us are the great images. But I think how many photographs we need to make is entirely dependent on the temperament of the photographer and type of photography they pursue... then add luck and being there!
I think the 'shoot and hope' approach is definitely more true of photojournalists and if you look at the Magnum Contact Sheets book, it becomes clear how integral trial and error and editing are to this process. A landscape photographer may come away from a shoot with a couple of 5x4 negatives, having spent an hour composing each. His approach then depends more on clear visualisation at the shooting stage than spending hours editing post-shoot. In my mind the negative count:successes ratio is much closer with landscape photography, if your temperament and working method is suited (which means you would work more efficiently). Regardless of ability and success, I think any photojournalist would have more negatives than even the most prolific landscape photographer.
If success in photography was totally dependent on how many images we made however, surely we could all be rich stock photographers with a bit of simple hard work?
This concept has been at the front of my mind for a while. I have always been a spontaneous photographer, reacting to what I find when exploring the world that I am privileged to witness...
As I explore, I'll see something and take one or two shots of it. Each idea gets only a few shots before I feel that I've got something in the can, and I move on...
However... I too have heard that professionals will take many rolls of film in the span of time when I might take one. It is a professional way to assure success...
Taking fewer shots, you risk coming away from the scene with nothing...
And here is the thought that has been hitting me in the forehead:
Because I didn't take a lot of pictures at the Russian River, I was forced to lower my standards when I printed the set. I selected several negatives that I would normally reject as unacceptably unsharp or with dust specks. I am genuinely pleased with the prints. But the flaws are clear and could have been avoided... if I had taken more pictures.
I had never lowered my technical standards before... But I felt in this case by taking some of the emphasis off technical quality and focusing on idea quality for a brief time was necessary as a step towards improving the overall quality of my work.
I am not one to go back after a scouting adventure to re-take shots. But many successful landscape photographers do that. And photographers who build sets and carefully light them, or bring in models or celebrities, or travel to far-away places... These photographers must shoot lots of film because the film is the least of the expenses...
But me, no. I'll still restrict my usage and work carefully.
Some of the most notable 35mm photographers burned through rolls, you can see it in their contact sheets. Rarely do you see more than two or more amazing pictures on a roll. I dont think you can judge someone on how good they are by the number of shots they take, it should be the end result that should be judged, be it a high or low ratio of keepers. And then even that, the act of judging an image is so subjective, one generation may hate it, another may love it, depending on societal perceptions at that point in time.
Personally, I don't take more than 1-3 shots of a subject most of the time. You do get wrapped up sometimes and I'd just rattle off a bunch, but mostly just 1-3. I trust in myself that I would have captured what I wanted in those.
Soon they'll just shoot video on their DSLRs, go through it frame by frame and pick out the best shots as stills.
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Adams thought he was doing well if he had a dozen a year. He was certainly exposing many more sheets of film than that.
I think the idea is that you've got to shoot a lot to get some good ones, whether you're a great photographer or not, and a great photographer will not only have a few great ones in the pile of proof sheets, but will see their potential to be a great images from the straight proofs. Editing is part of the process, and so is the post-production, whatever the method.
Originally Posted by cliveh
I think there is some truth on the statement, if we take that "only" out of it. Taking many shots is not sufficient for good results. On the other hand, there are circumstances where it is necessary to take many shots and only after choose the winner image. Sport photography, photojournalism, fashion photography, or any kind of work involving models, rented apparati, children. Whenever humans are involved there's a degree of randomness in the final result. A good portrait can depend from a subtle change in expression of which neither the model nor the photographer were aware at the moment the picture was taken.
This reminds me the scene in "Blow up" by Michelangelo Antonioni, when the photographer takes many pictures of the model in a fast sequence, it's obvious he's not bothered with "choosing" while taking pictures, selection will come later.
Personally, for my kind of work, I prefer doing all the editing "in camera". Post production takes a lot of time. Productivity matters. It's rare that I take two shots and then I choose one. Choosing in itself takes a lot of time. Better no alternatives than too many alternatives . Besides, careful and meditated composition, patient waiting for the pedestrian to go off-frame, or to get in-frame, is part of the image hunting pleasure.
I spoke with a local "photographer" who worked this way. She would take as many as 500 frames in a day (of nature scenes) with her DSLR.
Then she would select 2 to 5 "good" frames. The trouble was, even the "good" frames were terrible, because she didn't know what a good photograph was.
As others have pointed out, there are situations when exposing as many frames as possible is the only way to work.
Depends on what your shooting I guess…if it’s still you should not need to shoot several shots because you should try to visualize it first, try different angles and feel it, think about it, wait for the light etc..and even with moving subjects personally I try to anticipate…sometimes I take another shot just to have a back up neg with a really good shot. But if some think that the machine gun method serves them well, I really couldn’t care less…personally I think it’s silly but it’s their business really. When you try to make everybody feel like you do you usually get frustrated.
Where to begin:
Originally Posted by cliveh
There are many avenues of photography. Product, fashion, black and white scenic, color scenic, street, sports, portrait, wedding, photojournalism.....and every one has a different technique. You may set up a food shot for days and take a couple of pictures. Fashion photography usually involves a model in motion to give the clothes movement, so they use a motor drive to be able to get a great planned/accidental shot.
Next time you shoot a wedding party with 10 people just take one shot and see how long your career lasts. Or a football game, or a war zone. Or a 3 year old's portrait.
So the original premise of the thread is so myopic and self centered that it makes no sense.
The other factors are that photographers are not like surgeons where they are (supposedly) trained and when they start operating in hospitals they are already good at it. Photography takes years of practice for someone to be able to park at a scene, set up and then only need a couple of shots to nail a masterpiece. While he/she is learning they need to blast off a lot of shots to reach a point of expertise.
So since this was intended as a film vs digital thread and large format vs 35mm sensor digital camera comparison it fails in it's simplemindedness.
Also on that topic, a person shooting a large format camera will generally behave differently that when he's shooting a 35mm.
Why? because he can.
One other thing to add: if you are driving a car that can only go 50 miles an hour, it's pretty easy to drive at 50. If you have a car that can go 100 miles an hour, driving at 50 is much much harder. Takes a lot of discipline.
I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.