Quality and Quantity of Photographs - Contributing Factors

Some clients are confused over the quality and quantity of photos, especially for event shoots. This group of people may prioritize the quantity of photos and insist their photographers to promise them a certain number of photos.

There are various factors and limitations in getting good quality and large quantity of photos. Eventually, you should trust your photographer to get the best out of the shoot.

Quality of photos

Quality of photos refers to the presentation of the photos.

Given good lighting condition, any professional photographer should be able to produce at least satisfactory quality of photos. However, it is often not the case that lighting is a luxury.

For any outdoor shoot, the most challenging thing is the sun and its constant changing exposure, partly due to the moving clouds. The worst scenario is when the shoot is held around noon time when the sun is (1) scorching hot that will melt makeup and cause perspiration while the subject may have problems (2) opening his/her eyes; the (3) direction of light is from the top and thu sharp and ugly shadows will be casted on the face and the (4) harshness of light highlights flaws on skin. Of course, if the intention of the photographer is to produce very high contrast photos, it may be a favourable situation instead.

For outdoor shoot in the evening when the sun has gone into retreat, quantity (availability) of light is another challenge. It is often dependable on the existing continuous light from the street lamps. At times, the photographer may have to resort to mounting a speedlite on top of the camera in order to light up the subject(s), which may produce very flat light that will "hide" features of the face and reduce the gradient effect of the exposure that helps to make the photos look more 3-dimensional (3D). For a portrait shoot, the photographer can set up off camera lighting with light modifiers to light up the subject(s), which takes times; however, event shoots are usually too fast paced and spontaneous.

For indoor shoot, having dim light is the beginning of the horror, which is subjected to various factors of the interior. In such cases, photographers usually try to bounce light off the ceiling and walls to create soft and directional light, and thus depend a lot on the interior. In event that bouncing of light is required, (1) high ceiling will reduce the efficiency of the light, while (2) black or dark ceiling/walls will also absorb light. (3) Non white ceiling/walls will add weird colour tone as the light bounces off and hit the subject(s). Another horror is the existence of (4) reflective surfaces such as mirrors, door grinds or metal cable/pipe trucking, which will cause unforeseeable amount of additional harsh light to fall onto the subject(s) and cause overexposure.

Another challenging factor for indoor shoot is during day time and near the glass door/windows where natural sunlight will shine in. Many indoor places use orange (warm) light and the sunlight's colour temperature is leaning towards blue (cool). The mixture of colours may not be very attractive in most situations.

Quantity of photos

Quantity of photos refer to the number of photos.

For a portrait shoot, if light modifiers have to be set up, it will take extra time not only to (1) assemble them, but also for extra (2) light testing. Whenever the model moves or the sunlight changes, additional testing may be required. Shifting of location with the heavy and bulky equipment will further delay the shoot.

For event shoot, the quantity of photos is mostly affected by the nature of event, the programme outline of the event and the guests. For example, if the programme outline is mainly about having meal, there is very limited chance to take photos since most guests would not want their unglamorous moments to be taken. If the event is a formal one, especially about a talk or panel, there may be less expression to capture. Layout of the tables and chairs is another factor. Having interesting guests will spice up the entire event. I always wish my clients would put in more efforts to arrange for more interesting activities.

Having a night shoot or in the darkness may also affect the quantity of photos because it may take longer for the camera to focus on the subject. There are also a high percentage of chance for the camera to make mistake on the focusing and thus losing the shoot. The demand for group shots where many guests have to get ready or get together will require more time. The additional cameramen and/or videographers around will also take up time and thus reducing number of photos from the official photographer. In many cases, the additional enthusiastists will also become photobombs to reduce the number of good photos.

Due to too many unforeseeable situations that photographers cannot control, many photographers do not promise any client any minimum number of photos, unless they are very hard up for money (jobs). Or in some situation, a very conservative number may be stated.

You may be interested in:
- Photography shooting style
- Photography post-production (editing)
- FAQ about photography
- Misconceptions and myths in professional photography
- Why can't professional photographers take up cheap jobs
- Differences between professional and casual portrait photoshoots

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