Give 'em the duds?

I took engagement photos for a couple a few weeks ago. We had a blast and they loved the photos. I knew they loved the photos because I let them chimp[1. Viewing photos on the back of my camera] a few times.

That was probably a bad move on my part.

While my contract doesn’t entitle them to get every single photo I took, they’re politely asking for all of them. You know, for posterity.

I already deleted a lot of the bad ones:

  • blurry
  • underexposed
  • duplicates
  • mid-blink or non-flattering photos

There’s a few left that I haven’t deleted, but I’d rank them between 1-2 out of 5. Not worthy.

I can’t think of an appropriate response or metaphor to help get my point across.

Wait, what’s your point?

Trust me, you don’t want all the photos. I don’t bat 1.000. Additionally, I wouldn’t want to be associated with those mediocre photos.

Any suggestions (for now or future encounters)?

Published by

Bryan Villarin

Bryan works at Automattic. Cat whisperer. Sometimes, a photographer and card magician.

6 thoughts on “Give 'em the duds?”

  1. At the moment, i don’t mind giving them (clients/subjects) “all” of the photos. ALL = less blurry, over/under exposed, test shots, and unflattering ones. Sometimes, what you like and they like are different. You know how you have what you think is the “best photo” – exposure wise, composition, post-wise, etc. But they don’t like the way they look in it? I hate that. So now, I like the feedback of them having access to more photos. I learn more about what people like and don’t. So now, I post process a few that i like. and wait for feedback from the contact sheet of today (CD or DVD) and then proceed with post processing a few more. hope that helps!


  2. Obviously it’s your call but I think there are some legit reasons for at least showing them all the photos (sans the obviously wonky ones) and letting them choose a good number of them (and more for a fee, of course).

    * There may be a very special relative in the photo that they want to keep.
    * It might remind them of a special personal moment during the event that you were not privy to.
    * People generally like photos of themselves more than you like photos of other people. Especially in the case of their own kids, parents, close family, etc.

    My wedding photographer let us choose X number of photos for our album and then up to X+Y photos for web use. (I don’t remember the actual numbers). And we had the option for even more.

    Something I learned from many years in retail is good customer service is really about providing solutions. Not to just say no, but say, “what we can do is…”


  3. At our wedding, the photographers were actually burning DVDs of photos during the wedding. There were three photographers shooting, and one always at the computer dumping flash cards and burning DVDs. In the end, we got literally everything, including blurry shots, blink shots, 20 of the same pose, etc. I was actually glad they gave me everything, as it let me choose for myself which ones to throw out. In the end, I actually kept some of the blurry and blink shots as they represented some memories that I wanted to keep around.

    As a consumer, I say give them everything and let them worry about what to delete and what to keep.


  4. I think it depends on what/how you sell it up front.

    If you sell yourself as an artist who is trying to capture the perfect shot, then you give them the perfect shot(s) and you delete the others. If you selling yourself as capturing the memories in a more journalistic keepsake kind of role, you have to give them everything (or at least make it available).

    In wedding photography, in particular, photographers are advertising that will shoot x number of hundreds of pictures. And in our bigger/more is better culture, brides fall for the trap and pay extra to get all the pics even though it cost them nothing extra.

    In my mind, photography (and all art for that matter) is deliberate and calculated. Yes, you will occasionally capture something accidentally that is amazing, but every amazing shot is an accident, you are not a photographer, you are a monkey who can click a shutter.

    I don’t think this is you, by the way. I’ve seen the development of your art over time. Better composition, lighting etc… But your portrait & wedding work should come from the same artistic approach (again, in my opinion).

    My thought, sell them your art, not a commodity. Anybody can shoot more pictures, they are hiring YOU, theoretically, because they appreciate your eye and your art.


  5. I can definitely see both sides of it – and agree with just about everything that’s been said by previous commenters.

    Personally, when I take photos, I keep everything unless it’s REALLY bad. Usually the only photos I delete are ones of myself that I find unflattering. For the most part, this is because I have a horrible memory, and I feel like photos are the only thing I will have to remember/remind me of some of the experiences I went through. So I can definitely understand wanting every photo you snapped. And the above commenters made some good points about the possibility of there being something important in a shot that you don’t think of/notice/think is important.

    I think with wedding photography, a client hires you for both your artistic talent and to capture memories. I know I did. I NEED a photographer to capture every moment/detail so I can look back on it and smile, but I WANTED you because I love your style/talent.

    For shoots, like the engagement shot discussed here, I can understand not handing over every photo. Because then it is more about your intentional composition. You specifically created every shot.

    I may be wrong, but at an actual wedding/event, I’m assuming you take A LOT more photos and snap a lot more candids than you would at a photoshoot. For that reason, and the possibility of something personal/important to the client existing in a photo that you don’t value as important with regards to your composition/style/technique, I think maybe all those should be handed over.

    For most of us, a wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and we want to take away everything we can from it (besides our husband/wife of course =P …)

    Just my opinion.


  6. Wow. I’m overwhelmed. Thanks for the well-formulated replies, everyone!

    I’m stoked I heard something from each angle: business, photographer, and client. I feel much more confident in explaining how I’ll deliver my images in each situation (portrait sessions vs. events).

    For the record, portrait sessions will be always be more critical than events (e.g. weddings). I’m much more liberal in the number of images I deliver from a wedding. Time for a workflow post, eh?


Talk to me, Goose

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s