What's your keeper rate?


TPF Noob!
Mar 21, 2013
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Over the Whitsun holidays I was in Wales and London with my family and had the chance to shoot a few rolls. So far I've had six of the rolls developed, with one still in the camera. Of the 216 exposures that I already have, 59 have been printed on good quality paper and placed in a folder: these are what I consider the keepers .

So that's a rate of roughly 27%, which I'm very pleased about. Of course, I don't know how high (or low) my bar is compared to anyone else's, and the criteria of what makes a photo a keeper will vary from person to person; but I was wondering how this compares.

What sort of rate do you have?
It really depends on what I'm doing. My own holiday snaps? Probably 75%, but given how cheap electronic storage is, who cares if the odd dog is kept? For weddings/portraiture/fashion stuff maybe 10%, but that's because I'm shooting a greater number, especially modeling/fashion, and my personal bar is set quite high. Back in film days, especially as a high-school student, I tried for at least 50%.
I keep about 98% of what I take. :D
Because, as John said, storage is cheap.

But, "THE Keepers," that's different. And I'd say my percentage varies quite a bit from outing to outing. On a recent Osprey outing, I'd say my keepers rate was really high, probably 70% of what I shot I'd be happy to process and display for others to see.
But then I've had outings--like a trip to Hiwassee to see the sandhill cranes--where the rate is probably more like 10%. With bird photography, part of that depends on how close I'm able to get to what I want to shoot.

My "keep rate" for other things besides birds is probably more consistent, and I would GUESS it's in the 25% ballpark, but that's a complete guess.

Also: I find that my percentage of real "keepers"--those photos I want to process and show to others--has probably gone DOWN over the past 18 months. My photography skills have improved in that time, quite a bit I think--but as a result, my standard for determining "Keepers" has gotten much more stringent.

That fact really struck me just the other day, when I was going through some photos I'd taken that day and deciding what to process. I was rejecting pictures that, two years ago, I would have been incredibly pleased with. That was a nice realization. :D
It's not so much the 'keepers' as what percentage I am willing to display and that really depends on circumstance.
For sports shoots or events - maybe 35-40%
For portraits less
For street shooting, way down in single digits.
Back in my film days, shooting mostly slides, I was more careful in my shooting in metering, framing, composing, all the fun stuff, before I took a picture. I was also more judicious in my bracketing to get the right exposure doing night work. My keeper rate (mostly trains) was perhaps 35-40%.

But since going digital, the cost of each frame is only time, not money. Needless to say, I've become far more 'liberal' in my shooting and as a result, click far more often and therefore 'delete' more often as well. And, like others have noted, it depends on the subject matter of what I am shooting. Church events...perhaps 15-25% are keepers. Trains, cityscapes and landscapes (100% personal shooting, often JPG only)...30-35%.

And, as noted by sm4him, what I considered a keeper even 2 years ago would go directly to the trash today.
Hum...it's been a while since I shot film but I want to say 20% (wife was close to 100%). Digital is different with storage being small and cheap. I keep about 75% but probably only print up about 10-20%.
On my holiday last week, I took about 500 frames, culled 5-10% in camera, then 107 made their way onto facebook and 10 (some but not all among the facebook ones) onto my flickr.

A lot of the loss, though, is that I'll take 4-5 slight variations of a shot, keeping my favourite but with the others not being 'bad', just redundant.

On a recent fashion shoot, I took 600 frames, and of those made available to the client proofs of about 200 that were fine (no models blinking, all in focus, poses and composition not ghastly), for her to pick the final 20 agreed to be edited from.

Hard to compare to film, because my personal standards are way higher now than the last time I shot film, but with film I'd generally take 2 variations of a shot instead of 4-5.
Why would you even compute it, or care?

It does nothing to improve your photography skill level and with basically free digital 'film', it has no impact on your charge rate. I'm sure mine is very low, a rough guess would be 10%, but I don't approach the experience trying to shoot a high keeper ratio. I also shoot a lot of 9 exposure HDR and always use the Automatic Exposure Bracketing (AEB) mode while shooting assignments, a habit from the bad old film days, so how do you compute the 'keeper ratio' for that.
It depends on what I'm shooting.

I may take 7 frames for an HDR. Do the individual frames count as 'keepers'? Or the 15 for a focus stack? Or the 30 shots taken for a panoramic? How about the 150 frames to create one gigapan?

What about the 'test shots' taken to check for focus point, exposure, framing, etc. before taking 'the' shot?

Depends on your definition of keeper.

If we're talking an image that's delivered to the client, I'm about 7-8% of images snapped this year. That number is pretty low because of my shooting style...very natural, always trying to catch just the right expression on someone's face. Very few posed images.

If we're talking images I keep on hand for my own purposes / later use, probably ~30%.

The longer I do this, the pickier I get.
Around 85%, several images may end up being close to the same, but slight changes in expression or background and I'll keep them. I shoot a lot of generic type artsy photos and I will keep almost all of them, clients often ask for this kind of thing, many would rather have a good generic image to work from than try and create something from scratch in photoshop, saves them time and money. So basically a lot of what I do keep may not be what I consider outstanding images, but they serve a future purpose. Out of a hundred of the best, sometimes only 50-60 will get used by the client, but at least they have options.

I try and shoot as close to the way I used to shoot film, when it cost me and my client a lot more money. My keepers from film were still about the same, although I shot fewer images of the same subject.
For family snapshots, 20% to 40% percent "keepers" generally. I take several variations on every "shot", maybe half the "shot"s are worth sharing with family, so I pick the best version of each of those.

More serious stuff is anywhere from 0% to 10%. Sometimes a concept or a shoot just leads noplace I am interested in.

Still lifes, I usually make a small number of tests, and then nail it on the last one. Depending on what you think of the test shots, I am either keeping very close to 100% or more like 10%, here.
Snapshots of kids is very high....75%+. Some have some really unique facial expressions or actions, even if I missed the shot. I don't like to delete those images from my memory.
But those are just my kids I'm speaking of.

The other 25% is just multiples of the same blurry shots.
There are different levels of keeping, as has been alluded to by other posters.

Keeping on a hard drive: Very low bar. Probably 50% (I'm not counting situations where I take 4 shots of the same thing to increase likelihood of no motion blur, etc.)
Bothering to do any editing on: 25%
Keeping on any sort of publicly visible forum or gallery, or something I would be comfortable selling to a client: <10%
Usually about five per cent. I don't know if I'm really bad, or my standards are too high.

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