I get that question fairly often, and I can tell you straight out — it’s not as many as I’d like, that’s for sure. Yesterday, when I posted some of my favorites from my Bucs/Eagles shoot over on my Facebook page, I got a number of questions along these lines, so I thought I’d cover it here:

Q. So, how many shots did you take at the game on Sunday
A. Exactly 1,873

Q. That seems like a lot
A. I know, but I’ve been told I under-shoot by quite a bit. I talked to another shooter at a game a couple of weeks before and he had taken over 4,000 shots that game, and he chuckled that I only had taken around 1,600.

Q. So what ratio would you like to have of keepers to ones you delete?
A. When I go to a game I don’t have any ratio like that in mind whatsoever, but since you’re asking, ideally I’d like it to be around 95% keepers. Unfortunately, in reality it’s more like 5%. In fact, for this shoot, it was almost exactly 5%. I had around 92 shots that were “contenders” to send to the sports wire I shoot for.

Q. So, how many did you actually send?
A. 46.

Q. So, you cover an entire NFL game and you only get 46 publishable images?
A. Uh huh.

Q. Is it because you’re covering the Bucs and they’re 0-5 this season?
A. Yes.

Q. Really?
A. No.

Q. OK, why so few keepers?
A. Well, there are a number of reasons (and this might take a minute), so let’s look at a few:

One reason is because we take LOTS of shots that aren’t publishable because they’re simply not interesting. For example, look at the series of shots I took above. I wanted a clean shot of Eagle’s Quarterback Nick Foles, but once the ball was hiked, two players moved right into my frame, but I stayed on the QB until they moved out of the frame a second later. Out of this series, the first two frames are unusable  maybe the 3rd frame would be OK, but I felt the fourth frame looked best (and it’s the one I submitted), but the rest just look awkward or aren’t very compelling (well, at least I didn’t think so). This is a short series — just seven shots — often it’s 10 or 12 and we’re lucky if there’s a good one in there at all, but either way, you’re only “keeping” one from this series at best.

Q. OK, what else?
A. You cover a running back, and you’re dead on with your focus and you’re tracking his every move, but it’s just a “messy scene” — there’s just too many players and you can’t clearly see him or what’s going on (see above). There were 13 shots in this series, and I couldn’t use any of them. This happens quite a bit during a typical game.

Then there’s these (above). Plenty of ’em. Every game. However, this only happens after you’ve been tracking a player who breaks out for a big run and you’re waiting to capture that moment of peak action — of course the refs sense this and race to get right in your field of view.

Q. Really?
A. No. But it sure feels that way.

Q. OK, I’m with ya. What else?
A. After big plays you have to stay on the player who made the big play because capturing the “jube” (short for jubilation) is huge. These are some of the most marketable shots (provided the guy’s team actually wins the game, because there’s virtually no market for shots of a guy on the losing team celebrating), so you definitely want to “stay on” the player after the play. In this case, Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper had a big catch and run for a 44-yard gain and so I stayed on him just in case, and sure enough, he was pumped up and made a big gesture (I don’t know what else to call it) and I was right on him to capture it when the play was over (shown above).

Q. So, what’s wrong with that?
A. Nothing, it just took 19 frames to get that one frame — the other 18 frames are worthless. I had to stay with him from the moment he was down, until a while after because you don’t know if other players are coming over to celebrate with him, or a coach on the sidelines, or if there’s a penalty and the play gets called back and you get a secondary reaction when he learns that it was all for naught. Either way, that’s 19 frames after the play is over on the chance that you might get a reaction shot. You do this a dozen times or more during a game and a lot of times it yields absolutely nothing (the player doesn’t celebrate, or refs or other players walk into your frame).

Q. I notice you didn’t post any shots of Darrelle Revis’ fumble recovery for a Buc’s touchdown. How come?
A. Oh, I was right on him, from the moment LeSean McCoy coughed up the ball until Revis was celebrating in the end zone — 79 shots in all. Only one problem. It was called back. The runner was down by contact, so while the Bucs did get the turnover, the touchdown was called back, so that part of the play never happened, so those 79 shots of him recovering the fumble, running to the end zone, and celebrating with teammates, are all worthless.  That’s nearly 4% of the shots I took that day all gone in an instant. Darn refs. Silly rules. 

Q. Anything else?
A. Well, I took 110 shots of the team and individual player intros before the game (one sample is shown above).

Q. Did you submit any of those?
A. Not a one. I try a different shooting position for the player-intros each game, and this was just not a particularly interesting one, so I didn’t submit any. Next game, I’ll shoot from an entirely different position, and maybe I’ll get one or two keepers as they jump through the smoke. It’s hard to get a straight on shot of them coming through the smoke because I’d have to be standing in the Visitor’s bench area, and they’re generally not too keen on that, so I have to shoot at a weird angle, and so far I haven’t gotten anything too cool this season.

Q. What is that?!
A. These are my speciality — shots taken by accident, usually as my second camera hits my leg as I’m running down the sideline. I’ve taken so many of these over the years that I considered making a photo book of them and selling it with the proceeds going to the Springs of Hope Orphanage. I am not making this up.

Q. What about out-of-focus shots?
A. I’d like to say I have a few, but I’ve actually got plenty where I didn’t have my focus point on the right spot (as seen above). A lot of time you swing from one player to another (like from the QB to a receiver or tight end) and you just miss it. I’d like to blame it on the camera, but the Auto Focus system on the Canon 1Dx is absolutely insane — it was made for this stuff, but as good as it is, it won’t make up for my mistakes.

Above — that’s a shot of the Buc’s amazing running back Doug Martin. Even though the Bucs are losing, he’s still putting up great numbers (he’s 9th in total rushing yards in the NFL), but I don’t stay on Doug at the end of a play after a big run because he never, ever, celebrates. No emotion. No “first down” signal. No trash talking. He just gets up, tosses the ball to the ref, and gets back to the huddle. He’s a class act, but after the play he doesn’t give you any reason to stay on him for the “jube.”

Q. OK, now I’m surprised you actually came away with 92 keepers.
A. It does kind of put things in perspective, but still, it’s not as many as I would like. I’ve had more on certain games, and less on some, but I’d say one hundred or so is about average, and from there I narrow it down to the best. My goal is always to have more to choose from, and more to upload to the sports wire.

Q. How many do you upload at halftime?
A. I always think I’m going to limit it to 8-photos max at halftime, but I usually wind up sending 10 or 12. For Sunday’s game I sent 14, which made me miss the start of the 3rd quarter (well, that and I couldn’t get an Internet connection because of a problem with my laptop’s wireless, but my buddy Rob Foldy let me tether to his iPhone and I was able to upload via that — thanks Rob!).

Immediately after the game, I upload as many good ones as I have right then, but of course, I haven’t really had a lot of time with them (I tag my images in camera during the game to speed the workflow up — that way the tagged photos show up first when I import them) so once I get home, I go through all the shots again, and do a final upload (within 2 hours of the game ending), but most of those will just wind up being archive photos.

Q. So, what do you do with the rest of the photos?
A. I back them up to two different hard drives, just so I have them in case somebody needs an image down the road, and I might upload the rest of my keepers well after the game just for their archives, but outside of that, the rest are just backed up on my drive. You have to fully caption every single photo in detail, which takes quite a while, so it’s not as easy as just uploading a bunch of images — it’s long, tedious work, but it’s got to be done or your shots have zero chance of being seen or used. 

Q. OK, any words to wrap things up?
A. I hope that gives you some insight into how this all breaks down (well, at least for me). Your mileage may vary.  

About The Author

Scott is a Photographer, bestselling Author, Host of "The Grid" weekly photography show; Editor of Photoshop User magazine; Lightroom Guy; KelbyOne.com CEO; struggling guitarist. Loves Classic Rock and his arch-enemy is Cilantro. Devoted husband, dad to two super awesome kids, and pro-level babysitter to two crazy doggos.

104 Comments

  1. My theory: Take a million photos, get a dozen real good ones. :)

    • Take 1.2 million and you get a bakers-dozen. :)

      • Scott: You are a real gentleman and a sincere professional who doesn’t look down on people like me trying to make a living in this business. Now I know, that I have a chance when I go through my pictures thinking: This one sucks… and this one, and this one…. :-) I’m cuban ( I watched your video on your trip to Cuba) and I loved it. One more reason for my admiration.

      • If 1Million gets you twelve, ~1.083Million will give you the baker’s dozen. A lot less to throw away on the “light table”. ;)

        Looking forward to your review of the Canon gear btw, your posts are always educational.

        (A baker’s dozen is 13. My dad met my mom in a bakery in Nelson BC during WWII, she slipped in an extra couple beyond the bakers dozen and he finally caught on. Your usage of the term brought a good smile on a gloomy day… )

  2. It takes a lot of work, patience, and skill to get the shot. Thanks for sharing.
    I am intrigued by your comment that you tag your favorites in camera and they upload first… How do you do that in camera and what setting do you choose in LR?

  3. Howdy Scott – Great post … so question. You have fired of a sequence of 20 shots of one play … do you then have a quick gander on the back and lock down a few so when it comes to transferring to Photo Mechanic it’s 5 rather than 20? It’s at this point that I’m still honing my sports shooting workflow … trying to lock down the keepers around the play without missing something on the back of the screen (or on the field of play while looking down). If I didn’t lock down less shots then when it came to half time I may have 500 photos to look through rather than 50 … cheers,Nigel

    • I’m releasing an ebook on my Pro Sports Workflow (which includes PM obviously), and it should be out either late this week or next week. :)

      • Scott, will your eBook cover hockey too? If it does you’ve got one sale. I’ve been looking for pointers for my hockey shoots and have not found much out there. Great post, thanks for sharing!

  4. Just a quick crop and straighten and your accidental shot of the grass would look a lot like Andreas Gursky’s Rhein II, which sold at auction for $4.3 million.

  5. Hmmm….no cheerleader shots? I would think you would get a higher keeper percent if you had more of those. It seems like you’ll never lack enough material for your demotivational poster series, though!
    –John

  6. Great post…very interesting…love your sports humor

  7. Scott, one big question I think you are avoiding is how does the 1DX compare to the D4? I think it is time for a pro’s and con’s post and us the 1DX now your camera of choice for Action?, Portrait?, Street?, Landscape? Thanks…

    • I just want to do the review justice when I do it, and It’ll probably be a video review when I do, do it, so don’t worry, I’m working on it. I have only shot the 1DX for Sports so far, but I can tell you this — for sports it’s all pros and no cons. :)

  8. Ahhh…I feel your pain. Nothing like shooting a dramatic game 2 of the ALCS (Sox Tigers) only to have some of your best images be out of focus. Happens to all of us unfortunately right.

  9. Great post as always. It is good to hear that I am not the only one experiencing the mysterious ground and sky shots as the camera bangs against my leg. Can’t wait to see the Pro Sports Workflow ebook.

  10. Thanks for this post, Scott. I have been shooting football for my High School and have been disappointed that I am taking 600 shots at each game and only getting about 20-30 good photos, then only posting about 10

  11. It is very re-assuring to hear the keeper to total shot ratio. I am not shooting sports, it helps to know that even with experienced photographers, not every shot is a keeper. I once met a wedding photographer (who used to be a film wedding photographer) who told me if he shot 200 photos, he expected 195 keepers. I was skeptical, but with film being more expensive than digital, he had an incentive to use every shot he took.

    • Hi Stephen: When I shot film I was very aware that it cost about 22¢ each time I pressed the shutter, so I was a LOT more careful about when I shot. I would go a whole day and shoot a roll of 36 and that would be it, so I hear what you (and he) are saying. But even at that, he might have had 195 shots that were clean, sharp, in-focus useable shots, but I doubt he had 195 that he would post online if there were an online back then, but hey, ya never know, right? :)

  12. This made me feel so much better today. Thanks for sharing. I’m editing a concert right now and the same stuff happens: other guitars in my frame, bad lighting, autofocus in the wrong spot. It annoys me to no end that I don’t have control of my surroundings. I’m glad it’s not just me.

  13. Thanks for the honesty! I do a lot of shooting for high school sports and I domt feel so vad of all of the omes I delete! Do you shoot in raw and how big is your memory card? I use a 8gb and don’t shoit in raw just the large.

    • I shoot in JPEG, but my cards are insanely large just because that’s what I’ve got (I’m a Lexar Elite photographer, so they take care of me on cards). In my 1DX I have a 128 GB 1000x speed card, and in my 2nd body, either two 64GBs with the same specs or two 32s (depending on what was available when we packed the gear). Of course, I only use a small fraction of those cards shooting in JPEG.

  14. I don’t feel so bad now when I have a ref or an ESPN sound guy step in front of me as I’m trying to photograph the action seeing how you have the same issue as well as the out of focus shots. Can’t wait for your Ebook to come out. I just got Photo Mechanic, I’m late I know, and hoping you have tips in there to help me speed up my process

  15. Hey Scott, I love your Q&A stuff … it’s awesome! :-) Those darn refs and spectators are always in the way. :-) I was photographing my Granddaughter ice skating in Sun Valley, ID and it’s amazing how many people will walk right in front of you and never no the difference. Lot’s of butt shots! :-) I use a Canon 7D and it has zone auto focus. Do you use something similar on the 1Dx? I really struggle getting the right auto focus setup. Any suggestions?

    Fantastic shots (Keepers) by the way!

    Dennis

    • Hey Dennis: The 1Dx has a special focusing system, which is really incredible (I think the 5D Mark III shares the same auto focus system), but I use “Case 2” if that helps at all (not sure how that relates to the 7D).

  16. I had the opportunity to shoot on the sidelines for a High school game recently. Wow was that harder than I thought! When I got home I was surprised how few keepers there were. I was thinking it was just me so glad Scott and others are the same way!

  17. I would totally buy that ebook.

  18. Great post sums it up well. I have to look but I think my numbers were very similar. As a side note frequently my jubilation shots are better than the actual play.

  19. Doggone refs photobombing your photos. Don’t they know that you’re there to photograph a football game?

  20. I feel so much better reading this. Here, one of my idols has the same experience as I do. Perhaps I’m not “doing something wrong.” Thank you for the humanity!

  21. I shoot a lot of sports and you, as always, are 100% dead on. People that don’t shoot at the pro level often get discouraged and think there is something wrong with them because they get so few keepers. Your candidness and honesty, validates that even someone at your level will only get a small percent of keepers. Hopefully, this will encourage people to keep shooting!

    • Hey Lou: That’s why I did it. We only show a handful, but it takes a lot to get that handful. Things happen that are out of control, and some within our control, but you have to break a lot of eggs to bake that cake! :)

  22. Great post, very interesting. I follow you for some time now and am amazed at all the different things you do. I’m also impressed by all the stats you come up for football. Was wondering if it was part of preparation for the game or if you follow NFL so closely you know most of the relevant stats by heart? Also do you cover other sports? Would think covering football, basketball and baseball would have some common points but big differences too.

    • Hi Sebastien: I’m a big football fanatic, which is how I got into shooting sports in the first place, so I keep an eye on stuff like this, especially for my home team. NFL.com has a stats page so it’s easy to find out who is leading in what (Doug Martin was in the top five until last week — the Bucs had a bye week, so no yards for him at all, when other players have all six weeks). As for other sports, I shoot everything: major league baseball, NBA, Indy Racing, Golf, NHL, whatever they’ll assign me to cover — I love it all.

  23. Great post, Scott, thank you! My sport is rowing (indoor and on-the-water) where the subject is in constant motion and, if it’s on-water, I’m often in a bouncing boat, too. Huge challenge to get good shots. I’m going to share this to remind people they have permission to dump the dogs! Can’t wait for the eBook. I’m buying for sure.

    • My son is on Crew and absolutely LOVES it!!! He had a regatta this weekend, and his boat took 2nd place. His first single (he now has his own single) race is coming up in two weeks. We are psyched! What a great sport (but I agree, it’s hard to shoot as anything). :)

      • I was caught on-water as a course marshal/photographer recently…and it POURED. ALL. DAY. Any thoughts on being better prepared for situations like this and not going broke waterproofing your equipment?

  24. Love the Q&A format. (Until I possess a 1Dx of my own, I’ll just mark my “good ones” immediately afterwards with my hand over the lens for a couple of frames and look for them in processing).

  25. Nice post. Most this mirrors my experience of shooting pro football.

  26. To know you experience some of the same things I do, but on the much smaller High School level, is well…. very encouraging! I love your photography and you continue to help me tremendously!!! Sending a big THANK YOU!!!

  27. Great post, Scott!

  28. One of the conundrums I constantly fight with is shooting RAW vs jpg. While jpg gives you the “instant upload” freedom. I wrestle with having the control that RAW gives you post-processing. Where do I find that happy medium?

  29. How many signature referee shots did you get?

  30. I admire your work !! I really enjoyed this write up!! It Helps young shooters to get a sence of understanding or even a sence of repeatability. Keep up the great work cause I have learned quite a bit from you. Peace Love & Happiness

  31. Scott, I’ve been shooting college and pro sports for Zuma and others for the past 10 years and I’d say around 1800 shots is a good number for a three hour event. My keeper rate is about 10% overall. Mostly because, with the 1 DX, the frame rate is so high, a lot of the shots would be too repetitive to post. So you just pick a favorite from the series. I’d say your keeper rate is probably higher than you think. You just don’t want to be repetitive. If you can’t give a shot a whole new caption, it’s not worth posting because it doesn’t show/tell you anything new. Those guys who tell you they are shooting 4000-5000 per game sound like spray and pray to me. They might as well be shooting a movie. I tend to be a bit more selective through the viewfinder. Have you ever tried to shoot just ONE frame with the 1DX? It’s very difficult to do! Oh, and the parabolic microphone holders are the worst! Why they feel they need to STAND in front of you with those things is beyond me.

    • @photogoofer:disqus — that’s one thing I wish I had made more clear in my post — the repetitive shots. I kind of mentioned it in a round-about-way but I wish I had pulled that our more succinctly because that’s so very true. :)

  32. Scott, so nice to hear all you’ve said. I shoot for our boy’s team and the process is EXACTLY as described above but on a smaller scale – meaning NO ONE knows my name YET!!! Thanks for sharing. I love your writing style too. The “because you are covering the bucs” question is priceless.

  33. Scott, I started shooting high school football for the first time this year. Actually, it is my first time even attending a football game and I am 61 years old. I know hard to believe there is a male that never watched football. But I am the one. Your shots was an inspiration and I must say I have really enjoyed the experience. Every game I learn something new. First, follow the ball. “Or try to find the ball”. Capture the action, but avoid butt shots if possible. Stay outside the dotted line. Always remember you are not part of the game. And after a big play, turn around, the best shot may be in the stands. How am I doing?

    • You’re experiencing it the same way we all do, so keep it at. One thing that will really help is to really learn the game. Watch some games on Sunday and you’ll be better able to anticipate when it’s going to be a run, who it’s going to, when it going to be a pass, who is most likely to be the intended receiver and where they’ll likely be when they catch it (there are QBs who have their favorite targets and positions on the field). The more you know, the better your timing will become. I wish you the very best! :)

  34. I forgot to add a description to an image i sent to my local newspaper!!! Didn’t get a response at all. That being said they had a photographer there. Plus I was only there for fun!!!!

  35. Enjoyed this q&a post, one of my favorites. Thanks for sharing your experiences of shooting a NFL Game.

  36. Thank you so much! Fabulous blog! You have no idea how much you are helping. I am shooting high school football where my son is playing and this is his last season – he is a senior – With just few weeks left to take pictures of him I am trying to do the best possible! Your article helped a LOT!! (as well as your books – which I think i have all of them :) )
    Thank you!!

  37. Enjoyed this piece a lot so thanks for sharing Scott!

    Oh, this happens to me in every single concert I shoot: 600 shots and around 30-40 of them are keepers! xD

  38. feeling so much better now … whew!! did my first engagement couple shoot on sunday and too many of them … way too many of them … had to be deleted! thought about going back to quilting and selling my gear! you’ve given me hope and renewed determination!! oh, and btw, hugs!!

  39. I usually shoot between 1000 and 1500 images on a Friday night high school game. From that, I usually keep about 100. Of that number 95% are still crap.

    • it is so challenging with the poor lighting! I am totally with you – what lens are you using?

      • Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS, Canon 300 F/2.8 (when I rent one). I’m using my Canon 5D III, which has great autofocus and very low noise in crummy light. The “crap” I referred to is the same kind of non-keepers Scott describes.

      • I totally agree with you Steve. HS games are a lot of fun, just for the pure spirit, but there isn’t anything more challenging. Let there be light!

  40. How do you remember the plays that get called back? Do you mark them somehow? Take notes? I always tell myself I’m going to remember (while shooting High School Football) but when I go through my 1000-2500 images the game becomes a blur to me.

    • Personally….I shoot something as a marker for that series…like I will shoot a yard marker or penalty flag if close enough if it changes the outcome of a play…..

    • I try to keep track of the play in my head. You’d be amazed at how often you do remember. For NFL game there is usually a play by play recap available (online) shortly after the game. You can use the recap to refresh your memory when looking at the images (at least that’s what I do).

  41. Just a thought and a question about the images on plays that are called back… Obviously, those images wouldn’t be publishable editorially for the reason Scott gives (unless there’s a story in the fact that the play is called back I guess). But if your goal is to provide photos of a high school athlete without the context of a specific play or outcome, I’d keep a great photo of, for example, a great catch and share that with the family (free or paid). Wouldn’t you?

  42. One nice thing about shooting at the high school level, where stakes are usually not so high, is that the refs will sometimes try to accommodate you and intentionally move a few feet one way or the other to not block your shot. I’ve had this happen a few times when shooting from just behind the end zone with the players lined up inside the 5 yd line.
    I loved your post since I could easily relate to so much of what you were saying, even though I only shoot high school football. Plus you have a great writing style.

  43. Great post, Is there any way to tag photos on Nikon D3? I can’t find the way with Lightroom.

  44. Glad I’m not the only one,I undershoot also but I really don’t like going through 100’s of photographs and only edit 70 and only two or three are good shots.I think my problem is a graduate from film and I try to make every shot count.

  45. It sounds with all that work that the pain of a Bucs defeat is long lived!

  46. Wow, what an awesome post.

    One thing, If you ever, ever plan to do a Football workshop like you did with Ice Hockey this March, please sign me in, I don’t wanna miss it. I’d be flying from Switzerland to Tampa to join this class.

    *Says the Swiss guy who already joined Scott’s Ice Hockey workshop in Tampa earlier this year.*

    Way to go, Scott!

  47. I mean that is almost the gospel of shooting football…or soccer…or field hockey…or just about any sport…Recently shot almost 3000 images at a recent ACC football game and very similiar keeper rate…I think what people reading this that do not shoot sports need to understand is it is more a function of what is interesting that what is technically not usable…I had plenty of QB shots but with a few exceptions, most were boring. However at the time I took them I didnt know they would be boring….how was I to know the QB wasnt about to get blindsided….wanted to be on him when it happened….. Great post Mr. Kelby…

  48. So are you a Canon shooter now 100%? What happened and why the switch away from Nikon?

  49. This is a great entry. Thanks!

  50. Omg thank you SO much for writing this! I am not alone! I thought as I got better my percentage would increase to the point where I’d have maybe 95%…I found out awhile ago that that was so unrealistic…glad to see it happens to even the very best photographers (you ;)

  51. Scott,
    This is an AWESOME post!! This post along with your “Crush the Composition” vid are must view material for aspiring photogs! Thanks for the info!!

  52. Great post! – any thought on the Riley Cooper image and the dude in the red shirt in the background being a non-keeper? I look for ball, face and peak action + background when culling through my images.

  53. Wow! I shot a UVA football game a couple weeks ago and my numbers are almost exactly the same as yours. I shot 1854 and had 106 keepers , I thought I was doing something wrong but I think you just made my day a lot better. Great post!

  54. I don’t get to do a lot of post-processing to my football images for submission, so that’s not an issue. :) – Scott, what little post-processing you do get to do after the games, how much of this is cropping of your photos?

    • I shoot in JPEG, so the images look pretty good when they come out of the camera so they really didn’t need much tweaking at all. I crop the images (if necessary), I adjust the white balance for night games (usually not necessary for day games at all); I might add a little contrast if an image looks flat, and I sharpen every single photo. That’s about it. For more blog, I might tweak them a little bit more because I can, it’s just my blog, but for submission I do just what I mentioned above.

  55. Scott, how much, if any, processing do you do. Are you allowed to pump the image a bit, or so you have to submit them as-shot due to time restraints? I apologize if this is common knowledge among pro sports shooters. I am not, so I don’t have a clue!

    I shoot drag racing pretty much exclusively. I find my keeper rate to be right around 7-9% depending on if I do any pit work (much higher keeper rate walking around the pits than shooting on the track). Have you ever tried shooting moving motorsports? You should try it. It’s a LOT of fun. Challenging lighting (many “local” tracks have HORRIBLE lighting and don’t allow strobes due to the potential to distract the driver’s focus) so you have to really crank the ISO and catch what little light there is JUST RIGHT.

  56. Sounds about like my shooting at my son’s minor hockey games (still envious of your chance to shoot that NHL game – following the puck’s hard; isn’t it?) – only my average is about 35 useable shots. I need to get my hit ratio up. :( I think I’ll stick to wildlife.

  57. Thank you for posting this! I just finished shooting an event today, and another photographer at the event was talking about his keeper percent. With what I shoot, I no longer even think of how many are keepers, but his was the Unsettling Question. (He is a very good photographer, btw, so his question mattered to me.)

    I recalled I had one shoot where I took about 250 shots. Only 2 were keepers, but they were the right two, a flyby of the space shuttle Discovery over the Potomac. The two photos were 11 seconds apart, and were very different, one front lit and the other back lit. Many photos were practice shots before the 747 and shuttle arrived (more like warm-ups), and the rest were of the pair flying around the area. The latter shots were nice but really irrelevant in comparison to the two good ones.

    I guess the bottom like is that the keeper percent is whatever it is. Maybe it’s just better to keep track of the number of keepers. I recall during the film days that for some projects, National Geographic photographers would go through hundreds (or even thousands) of rolls of film. Their percentages would have been tiny. I’d take that tiny percentage to be published in NG. :D

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