How much do you shoot?

The Dresden Dolls @ the Pageant -- 2008.01.06

Q&A How much do you shoot, and what factors determine the success and failure of your images? A look at the “hit rate” for concert photography.

Hi Todd,

I was just wondering on how many shots, on average, you take at a show? And out of the total set, how many are keepers?


Hi Rob,

Thanks for your question. For my concert photography, I'd say my percentage of “keepers” averages between 10% and 30%. In terms of total images made for a given band, this number may range from a few dozen to several hundred. I generally shoot a minimum of 100 images for a headlining band with a three-song limit, with 200-250 images as the average raw output.

Hit Rate

What you're asking about is what's sometimes called a “hit rate” – essentially, a rough figure for how many “good” shots one produces for a given shoot relative to the total number of images made. For me, this is the set of images that best tells the story of the event with a minimum of redundancy.

Shooting Factors

There are various factors that will indirectly influence my shooting habits in terms of quantity, all of which also exert some effect creating conditions for success in the images themselves.

These variables include:

  • Genre
  • Lighting
  • Song Limits
  • Shooting Position
  • Venue
  • Technique

In addition, the general mood and energy of the band can have a tremendous effect on one's output. I know that I personally shoot more and shoot better when I can feed of the energy of a band having the time of their lives on stage.

For large shows with a veteran band and a great vibe, it's not uncommon for me to blast through upwards of 500 frames. One recent instance of this was on Metallica‘s recent tour, which created fantastic conditions for concert photography.

The Editor

One other important thing to note is that one's hit rate when self-editing may be very different in final images than if another photographer edited the same set of images, as the threshold for an event's key images may vary from one individual to another. More than anything else, a photographer's hit rate is more of a reflection on their own preferences and taste.

In a later Q&A segment, we'll take a look at the qualities of compelling concert photography, as well as the importance of the editing process.

What's Your Hit Rate?

Concert photographers: What's your hit rate? How much do you shoot? What factors are most important to you in the success or failure of your images?