What happened to the rest of my images??

For an hour long session with a client I can take upwards of 100-200 pictures. Depending on the size of the family or number of clients, backdrops that I like, different viewpoints... I experiment to give myself a lot to work with. However, when a client logs in to view their gallery for the first time, I only supply about 30 of the "best images from their session". That may beg the question from a client, "What happened to the rest of my images?"

Imagine walking into a bakery full of cupcakes - cupcakes are in now, right? Imagine 100 different flavors and combinations of cupcakes. The amount of choices is absolutely overwhelming. Would you really want to taste every single cupcake? What if instead the baker had weeded out the recipes that didn't quite work and instead only offered you the 20 best cupcakes - melt in your mouth, sweet but not too sweet, delicious, amazing cupcakes. You'd be able to weed out your favorites right away. For me? It would be peanut butter and chocolate combination, hands down.

The same applies to your session photos. Most experienced photographers will tell you that giving a client too many options overwhelms them. Instead, as photographers we painstakingly sort through your session images to select the best photos. That way each of your photos is a "keeper" instead of a handful of great ones and a big pile of "just okay" images. You may think you want to see all 100 images, but trust me, you don't. You'll walk away much happier from your experience when every image leaves you feeling confident and happy about your experience during your session.

So, how do I narrow it down?
It's hard. When I come in from a session, I immediately delete the outtakes - the eyes are closed, I was testing the light, someone was mid-sentence... the obvious ones no sane person wants to send out on their Christmas card.

From there, I delete the "multiple images". I may take up to 6 photos of the exact same pose and I choose the best of those 6. The images are almost identical and I select the most flattering. At this point I've probably narrowed the gallery from 100 - 50 images. I still have a way to go.

That's when I walk away.

I leave it for a day or two.

When I come back to the gallery, I can really look at the images and decide which are the strongest. This is when you really have to trust your photographer. This is where I decide which images are composed the strongest, the most flattering to the client, variations of poses, the best lighting, and so forth. "Time and talent of the photographer"? You've heard that right? Time and talent certainly applies here. The time I've taken to study photography, experience I've gained working with clients and my talents in finding the best images all around. What a trained photographer and client see are two very different things. I'm going to be a lot more nit-picky than the average Joe. Or Mary.

So there you have it. That's where the "rest of your images go". In the end, all that matters if you've captured that perfect image for your Christmas card, that you'll display over the mantel, proudly beam to Facebook friends everywhere, and cherish for years to come. Sometimes, all that takes is one, beautiful image.


  1. Great article! Thank you for taking the time to explain. :) I think I will have to share this with my clients!

  2. I need to repost this immediately. Thanks, Kelli!

  3. this is a great tip and i agree with you 100% on only giving the client the best but i am going to have to disagree completely on deleting images... DON'T DO IT! even if they are terrible and you will never use them deletion can be dangerous. to many times I've been told about that perfect spot someone accidentally deleted bc they were going through getting rid of the bad ones. also what if you have the perfect spot just one thing is out of place? perhaps you can go through and find a similar photo that was horrible but you could swap the out of place element? just a thought.