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04-04-2017, 07:05 PM   #1
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How many is too many (how many is too few)?

Bit of a puzzling situation. I was recently contacted by the musician son of a family friend who had his first showcase with his new band last weekend. It was a short-ish set (1h in total) in a smallish club and instrumental-only (kinda jazzy/experimental). Being an aquaintance + all of the aforementioned, I gave him a very friendly, fair offer and promised him I'd deliver about a dozen pictures. On the phone, on a previous conversation, I promised him at least 3 upfront (aka next-day, given the concert finished around midnight) and the rest shortly after. He accepted the terms, no questions asked.

On Sunday he had seven pictures he could publish immediately, by Monday I delivered everything, which turned out to be 18 usable pictures in total. Tonight I got an email from him thanking me and all, but then he asked me if that was a strict selection or I just didn't take a lot of pictures.

Now, I honestly don't know what to make of this question. Mind you, he didn't sound mad (as far as I can tell from an email), but I'm confused. Given the circumstances (not a whole lot of action, limited space, average light show, short set), I think 18 was a fair number, which went even beyond my initial rather conservative proposal which — by the way — he had agreed on. Actually, that's even more than a lot of other more eventful concerts with better known bands in proper venues I had done in the past. Besides, beyond that number I'd be repeating angles and poses at nauseam.

So, is there a magic number or something I didn't hit? What is the consensus? Have I really gotten it backwards? Or did he just like them a lot so he wants more?

04-04-2017, 07:23 PM   #2
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I'd say if you delivered approximately what you promised, you're good. Yeah, your shots are probably better than everyone's cell phone pics, and the performers probably have a healthy vanity to want to see themselves immortalized in still pictures, but if you're being business-minded about it, I think it's reasonable to not let out "snapshot quality" images if you want to portray yourself as something other than a snapshot quality photographer (i.e. - an "artist").
04-04-2017, 07:27 PM   #3
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Too many is when you give them pics you feel are not good, that could be one. To few is when you don't have the basic angles and action covered. Thus you can both have to few and to many at the same time. Some bands are impossible to get good shots and others make it easy. You gave the shots so don't worry.
04-04-2017, 07:28 PM   #4
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I think there is a thought that because one is shooting digital that there "will" be a substantial number of photos taken.

What "non-photographers" don't realise is the number of off, or not quite there, photos which are taken to get too the one good shot. It's part of our job as photographers to "edit" the number of photos down to those that are the best.

You only have to see some proof sheets of photos to see how many were taken to get to the ONE shot.

I think you should go back to him and let him know that yes, there were many more photos taken, but that what you have presented to him are the "best" photos. All the other photos are in one way or other inferior to the presented photos. And if he asks if he can have those photos, I'd politely decline, and I would say that you only want your best work show, and that is second quality photos were shown to other people they would get a sub-standard appreciation of your work.

Regards

Chris

04-04-2017, 07:46 PM - 4 Likes   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by seventhdr Quote
I think you should go back to him and let him know that yes, there were many more photos taken, but that what you have presented to him are the "best" photos. All the other photos are in one way or other inferior to the presented photos. And if he asks if he can have those photos, I'd politely decline, and I would say that you only want your best work show, and that is second quality photos were shown to other people they would get a sub-standard appreciation of your work.

Regards

Chris
You could explain to him that photography is like music, you only want to present your best work. He wouldn't want to release an album with every cut recorded in a music session and you don't want to release every picture for the same reason.
04-04-2017, 08:05 PM   #6
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If somebody expected one keeper for every ten minutes you were shooting, you'd be able to do that.

But perhaps the issue was more coverage. Did the drummer miss out on his tight closeup? Was an UWA of the audience not there? No shot of the band just before they hit the stage? etc etc.

For this reason, wedding photographers often have a shot list beforehand they show the client and modify according to taste.

This helps avoid the challenging email you received.

I know this was partly a favour not a full cash gig but that is the curse of us amateur photographers - we are expected to have the gear, skills and attitude of a professional but not be paid like one!

Last edited by clackers; 04-04-2017 at 08:13 PM.
04-04-2017, 08:08 PM   #7
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Has he spent time in a recording studio? Ask him for the stuff that ended up on the cutting room floor* from his last session.


*or whatever lingo hip musicians use in the digital age

---------- Post added 04-04-17 at 11:09 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by onlineflyer Quote
You could explain to him that photography is like music, you only want to present your best work. He wouldn't want to release an album with every cut recorded in a music session and you don't want to release every picture for the same reason.
Whoops, I should have read the replies first, I was redundant!

04-04-2017, 09:22 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by hooverfocus Quote
Have I really gotten it backwards? Or did he just like them a lot so he wants more?
It is hard to read people when it comes to art. They are probably just interested in seeing more. Something that you may have not liked might be their favorite shot. That may include out of focus or blurred or less than perfect shots. Artist are artists! My guess is that they are not seeing something that they think represents them perfectly. If it were me, I would have made an online gallery of all the images and let them select their 12 or 18 or whatever deliverable you agreed on. I have had other photographers help me edit my work after I did the initial editing. A lot of times stuff that I threw out was among their favorites! Go figure.
04-04-2017, 09:58 PM   #9
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Don't let someone see your out takes. They invariably choose something really lame, maybe because it shows someone's shoes. That bad picture is what they will show their friends.
04-04-2017, 11:49 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by hooverfocus Quote
Bit of a puzzling situation. I was recently contacted by the musician son of a family friend who had his first showcase with his new band last weekend. It was a short-ish set (1h in total) in a smallish club and instrumental-only (kinda jazzy/experimental). Being an aquaintance + all of the aforementioned, I gave him a very friendly, fair offer and promised him I'd deliver about a dozen pictures. On the phone, on a previous conversation, I promised him at least 3 upfront (aka next-day, given the concert finished around midnight) and the rest shortly after. He accepted the terms, no questions asked.

On Sunday he had seven pictures he could publish immediately, by Monday I delivered everything, which turned out to be 18 usable pictures in total. Tonight I got an email from him thanking me and all, but then he asked me if that was a strict selection or I just didn't take a lot of pictures.

Now, I honestly don't know what to make of this question. Mind you, he didn't sound mad (as far as I can tell from an email), but I'm confused. Given the circumstances (not a whole lot of action, limited space, average light show, short set), I think 18 was a fair number, which went even beyond my initial rather conservative proposal which — by the way — he had agreed on. Actually, that's even more than a lot of other more eventful concerts with better known bands in proper venues I had done in the past. Besides, beyond that number I'd be repeating angles and poses at nauseam.

So, is there a magic number or something I didn't hit? What is the consensus? Have I really gotten it backwards? Or did he just like them a lot so he wants more?
I had a similar situation which really put my spirit down. For an event I told the person that I will deliver 40-60 pictures and the cost of it.
He came back to ask if it will be cheaper should I focus only on his partner. I said that is not fair to him since he was also part of the event, a small wedding.
He said ok. Keeping this in mind, I delivered pictures focusing mostly on the couple. This reduced the pictures to about 45, because I didn't want to produce 60 pictures of similar angles.
He was disappointed stating there are not pictures of the guest and a whole lot of other things. Luckily for me I had taken pictures of the guest too.
So I was able to deliver. But I was really pissed that he threw me such a curve ball. Now i have to deliver about 80 pictures.

I dont mind the work. But an agreement is an agreement. Whether its a gentleman agreement or not. Besides it prepares you on what you should shoot.
I am getting wiser on making agreement with people. Even people who are acquaintance.

Culture.

---------- Post added 05-04-17 at 09:53 ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by pentaxus Quote
Don't let someone see your out takes. They invariably choose something really lame, maybe because it shows someone's shoes. That bad picture is what they will show their friends.
True. True. For my post above, they wanted me to send them the pictures I took so they can make the choice themselves.
I gave them guidelines on what how to make their selections. Eyes, Light, Expression, Mood, etc.

You cant believe what the selected. I will never do that again.
04-04-2017, 11:57 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Culture Quote
I had a similar situation which really put my spirit down. .
Again, this sounds like a coverage problem.

If you agree on a shot list (and there are examples of these on the web), this issue can be neutralized.

Instead, you would rather not have him as a client again, and he's not recommending you to his contacts either - it's lose-lose.



04-05-2017, 03:02 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Culture Quote
I had a similar situation which really put my spirit down. For an event I told the person that I will deliver 40-60 pictures and the cost of it.
He came back to ask if it will be cheaper should I focus only on his partner. I said that is not fair to him since he was also part of the event, a small wedding.
If someone asked me to do that, it would be a big red flag for me. In five years of wedding photography back in mid 2000's, I ran into two difficult situations. In one situation I designed the album and the groom complained, no he threw a fit about not having enough pictures of himself in the album! That was an easy fix as I added another two pages to give him more of himself. They also gave me other headaches. This couple and their entire family is blacklisted in my book forever.

After a while you get good at picking up vibes from clients. If it does not feel right, you are better off walking away from it. I have had wedding photographer friends sued over stuff like this and believe me it is not worth the headache.

In another situation I gave the couple the digital files with no printed album as they did not have a budget for it. They paid with their Paypal. I had a bad feeling about this small wedding (30-40 people) as the mother of the groom covered her face and turned away from the camera every time I tried to photograph her with her son and other people. A month later they complained to Paypal and tried to get their money back. Luckily I had taken the money out of Paypal. We ended up in a small claims court because they sued me. I printed about a dozen of the images and brought it to court. They blew up my images to 12x18 prints. Someone, an expert friend of theirs! sat behind a computer and darkened the images and made the worst possible prints you can imagine. They presented their case and I got up and gave the judge my prints. The entire court was laughing at these clowns. Needless to say the judge threw their case out. This whole ordeal left a bad taste in my mouth, even though I won. Some people are just jerks and you have to develop a sixth sense on picking up the vibes.

I also stated that I would share out takes in a reply above. However, that only applies to creative types, musicians, concerts, dance performances, etc., never for a wedding or engagement or similar events. For weddings and other formal social events, I always selected the best images based on the criteria you listed in your post. However, I shot a lot more and the keepers were in the mid to high hundreds.
04-05-2017, 04:57 AM   #13
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For a small gig like this, so long as I got...

1) At least one good shot of every member of the band as an individual
2) At least one good shot of the entire band
3) At least one good shot of the band including some of the crowd
4) At least one good shot of the crowd...

...I would, as a band member, consider myself well-served.

@kenspo may be able to give advice on the sorts of portfolios he delivers, seeing as he does this sort of thing for a living.
04-05-2017, 07:03 AM   #14
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This is indeed a coverage problem. I have shot several cultural and religious events and coverage is of prime importance (at times more than how good the picture are). Shooting an event with no prior knowledge is definitely be a challenge and can very well cause coverage problems. here are the things that help
- Try to obtain prior knowledge of the key moments in the event. Go to a rehearsal if you are unaware of the nature of the event. Remaining completely oblivious to the content of the event is a recipe for failure.
- Knowing the content prepares you for the key moments in the event and you are unlikely to miss them.
- Great pics with no key moments in them aren't necessarily keep worthy (I use them as filler and break the monotony in the album at times). But all pictures with key moments captured are keep worthy from an event perspective even if they aren't great shots. If it is a terrible shot I would eliminate it. But if it is acceptable with post processing and is a key moment in the grand scheme of things then It is a keeper.
- Clients do think that more pictures is better than less pictures (for events especially)
- Noise, softness, etc aren't the things most people care to notice. As long as the picture captures them in the act (drummer in a head bang moment with a motion blurr for ex.) they are good or excellent for them.
- Don't skimp on taking pictures in an event. Remember quantity and coverage wins.
04-05-2017, 02:38 PM   #15
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I enjoyed reading your comments, there were a lot of good suggestions in general, which other people may also find helpful.

I'll reply to a few underneath.

In the mean time I emailed the young one back and explained I had more but those shown were those I deemed worthy, and to let me know if he had a more specific wish or request — at least I'll get an idea of what he was really aiming for when he asked the first time around. All in all I am satisfied of the job and I think he's happy too despite that question.

QuoteOriginally posted by seventhdr Quote
I think there is a thought that because one is shooting digital that there "will" be a substantial number of photos taken.

What "non-photographers" don't realise is the number of off, or not quite there, photos which are taken to get too the one good shot. It's part of our job as photographers to "edit" the number of photos down to those that are the best.

You only have to see some proof sheets of photos to see how many were taken to get to the ONE shot.

I think you should go back to him and let him know that yes, there were many more photos taken, but that what you have presented to him are the "best" photos. All the other photos are in one way or other inferior to the presented photos. And if he asks if he can have those photos, I'd politely decline, and I would say that you only want your best work show, and that is second quality photos were shown to other people they would get a sub-standard appreciation of your work.

Regards

Chris
That's some sensible advice and it's indeed what I ended up doing.

QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
If somebody expected one keeper for every ten minutes you were shooting, you'd be able to do that.

But perhaps the issue was more coverage. Did the drummer miss out on his tight closeup? Was an UWA of the audience not there? No shot of the band just before they hit the stage? etc etc.

For this reason, wedding photographers often have a shot list beforehand they show the client and modify according to taste.

This helps avoid the challenging email you received.

I know this was partly a favour not a full cash gig but that is the curse of us amateur photographers - we are expected to have the gear, skills and attitude of a professional but not be paid like one!
I've been doing concerts for a while and I should have the basics down. In this specific case I had full front stage access as well as on stage up to the side of the drum kit (which was located stage right) and the mezzanine where the soundboard was, so I pretty much had it all covered. The venue wasn't even remotely sold out, though… I had a cool shot from above, but seeing the crowd far and spare isn't exactly flattering (unless I resort to cloning people in). Same for the crowd shot from the stage, people were standing a good 4 meters back, leaving a big empty gap right in front of it. I did cheat at some point and went into the crowd to snap a few with heads all around and that kind of gives the impression there were enough people, but that's about it. (As a side note, too bad, because the music was actually quite good, and he's a very skilled guitarist).

QuoteOriginally posted by btnapa Quote
It is hard to read people when it comes to art. They are probably just interested in seeing more. Something that you may have not liked might be their favorite shot. That may include out of focus or blurred or less than perfect shots. Artist are artists! My guess is that they are not seeing something that they think represents them perfectly. If it were me, I would have made an online gallery of all the images and let them select their 12 or 18 or whatever deliverable you agreed on. I have had other photographers help me edit my work after I did the initial editing. A lot of times stuff that I threw out was among their favorites! Go figure.
I used to be a techno-nazi but I've learned to appreciate less technically perfect shots which may have other meaningful qualities, therefore when editing I generally include a handful of those — if there are any — as well. It really depends on the kind of show it was, if there was a lot of energy, stunts, etc. sometimes a blurred shot conveys more meaning than a static one, sometimes not, there's no one-size-fits-all.
I sorta agree on having a second pair of eyes for editing but I'd rather it be other professionals I trust. Subjects rarely have trained eyes other than for how they appear themselves. I wouldn't publish a picture they didn't like even though it's a great shot, but I wouldn't publish a crappy picture only because they liked themselves in it either. That is to say, I'd be wary of showing a client all the pictures before I trim them down myself.

QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
For a small gig like this, so long as I got...

1) At least one good shot of every member of the band as an individual
2) At least one good shot of the entire band
3) At least one good shot of the band including some of the crowd
4) At least one good shot of the crowd...

...I would, as a band member, consider myself well-served.

@kenspo may be able to give advice on the sorts of portfolios he delivers, seeing as he does this sort of thing for a living.
See the second quote above. Given the specificities of the concert/venue combo, I did my best to complete a similar checklist.
I'll look up kenspo's work, thanks for the suggestion.

QuoteOriginally posted by shardulm Quote
This is indeed a coverage problem. I have shot several cultural and religious events and coverage is of prime importance (at times more than how good the picture are). Shooting an event with no prior knowledge is definitely be a challenge and can very well cause coverage problems. here are the things that help
- Try to obtain prior knowledge of the key moments in the event. Go to a rehearsal if you are unaware of the nature of the event. Remaining completely oblivious to the content of the event is a recipe for failure.
- Knowing the content prepares you for the key moments in the event and you are unlikely to miss them.
- Great pics with no key moments in them aren't necessarily keep worthy (I use them as filler and break the monotony in the album at times). But all pictures with key moments captured are keep worthy from an event perspective even if they aren't great shots. If it is a terrible shot I would eliminate it. But if it is acceptable with post processing and is a key moment in the grand scheme of things then It is a keeper.
- Clients do think that more pictures is better than less pictures (for events especially)
- Noise, softness, etc aren't the things most people care to notice. As long as the picture captures them in the act (drummer in a head bang moment with a motion blurr for ex.) they are good or excellent for them.
- Don't skimp on taking pictures in an event. Remember quantity and coverage wins.
I'm all for preparation. If I don't know the band already, whenever I get the chance I try to attend another concert or at least look up videos/teasers online to get a feel for it. Same for the venue if I've never shot there before. For the rest, good points, see previous replies for answers about how I tackled them.
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