A while back in an article in Digital Photo Pro magazine, long-time National Geographic photographer, Jim Richardson, admitted he snaps between 20,000 and 40,000 images for a given assignment. He does this, he says, in hopes of capturing a very small number of amazing photos.
Generally, Richardson's assignments take 8 to 12 weeks to shoot. A lot of those days are spent doing things other than capturing the twenty to forty-thousand pictures he mentioned. According to Richardson, about 20% of his assignment time is spent with cameras in his hands. The rest of it is spent on logistics-- planning, coordinating, researching, and more. Still, 20k to 40k photos is a whole lot of images to shoot then edit!
None of the above is intended to infer that photographers of Richardson's caliber are employed by businesses like NatGeo simply because they are sprayers-and-prayers. It isn't about luck and it isn't about how many pics he snaps. NatGeo doesn't employ proven photographers like Bill Richardson because the odds are in favor of him getting lucky and capturing a few great photos out of thousands. They hire him because he's good. Really good. And because they know he's going to deliver great photos, whether he shoots hundreds or thousands.
I would imagine many of the subjects Richardson shoots for NatGeo aren't "directable."
"Could you lower your head a bit and cheat your trunk to the left? I'd like to see both tusks in my frame."
In fact, the numbers of images Richardson captures for his assignments probably has lots to do with him being, as a photographer, more of an observer documenting what's in front of him than a photographer with much control over what's in front of him.
Someone like me, a glamour photographer, has plenty of control over what I'm photographing. That's why I don't shoot anywhere near thousands of photos for my assignments. I can control not only how my camera is capturing what's in front of me, I can also control what's in front of me... if that makes sense. You know, I can control my lighting, I can place the model where I want her, I can direct her pose, her expressions, her emotional projections... that sort of stuff. I imagine someone like Bill Richardson shooting for NatGeo doesn't often have those luxuries.
Still, I see and hear about photographers shooting models and capturing thousands of images during their time with those models. In other words, they're spraying-and-praying. When I've been in the presence of sprayers-and-prayers, I've noticed they tend to be shooters who communicate less with their models than someone who, well, who isn't a sprayer-and-prayer.
I don't know about any of you but I refuse to depend on luck or prayer to help me capture good images. Sure, sometimes I do get lucky and capture something with unintended elements and that unintended capture results in an amazing photo. But I can't count on that sort of thing happening with any sort of consistency or dependability.
Besides, most of the time I don't have time to capture thousands of images... not that I'd want to. Who wants to edit through thousands of images if you don't have to? I know I don't.
Glamour photographers have two options: Capturing excellent photos by design or capturing excellent photos by luck. The choice is obvious if you ask me.
The gratuitious eye candy on the stairs is Brook, captured in a location house near Los Angeles.