Why Do Photographers Take So Many Photos?

Whether it’s photographers at a news conference or just shooting a wedding, it’s guaranteed you’ll hear their camera snapping what sounds like a thousand photos a minute. Especially when the thing they’re photographing isn’t moving around, it might seem a bit confusing why photographers take so many pictures. However, as it turns out, there’s actually a method to this shutter clicking frenzy.

By taking a lot of photos at once, photographers can get more variety in their images and guarantee the perfect shot. For example, you may hear the rattle of camera shutters at a news conference photographing someone speaking. By taking more photos, the photographer has better odds of capturing the perfect expression or an exciting moment that may arise.

Now, this doesn’t just happen amongst professional photographers. Even iPhone photographers are guilty of taking more photos than they really need. To help you better understand the value of taking more photos, let’s break down 6 reasons why photographers like to take so many.

6 Reasons Why Photographers Take A Lot Of Pictures

Depending on the situation or the scene someone’s photographing, the reason for taking multiple photos can vary. Below highlights each of these reasons and what types of situations they would apply to.

1. So They Don’t Miss The Perfect Moment

The biggest reason why photographers like to take a lot of photos is so they don’t miss the perfect moment. This is especially true with sports, events, wildlife, or any other photography that captures a moving subject.

The idea here is simple. With more photos, the better the odds are that you’ll get the perfect shot. Perhaps the perfect candid photo is that millisecond after someone looks at the camera with a natural expression. Maybe the best shot of your dog running is while it’s mid-stride.

(Which it totally is by the way)

The unfortunate reality for us photographers is that we never know when the perfect moment will be. By taking more photos at once, you can drastically improve your odds.

2. To Experiment With Different Angles

There are a hundred ways you can take photos of something. With different angles and compositions, you can change the entire look and feel of a picture. That’s why most photographers will move the camera around while they’re taking photos to see what they can find.

In some cases, a photographer will have a predetermined idea of what angles they want to photograph. However, most like to just play around and see what they can find in more run and gun situations.

Then, later on, in the culling process, the best angles from the bunch will be selected and edited.

3. To Nail The Focus

Whether you’re shooting with autofocus or manual focus, it’s crucial to get it right. If your focus point wasn’t where it should be, then you’ll need to take another shot.

Especially when a subject is moving, it’s not uncommon for the camera to miss focus. That means the photographer will have to take more photos until everything looks sharp.

This is another common reason why photographers of all levels end up taking a lot of photos. After all, without sharp focus, you don’t have a useable image!

4. To Capture Multiple Exposures

One technique that’s especially common amongst landscape and fine art photographers is exposure blending. In a nutshell, this means you capture the same photo at varying exposures to later combine with photo editing. The result gives you a perfectly exposed image from your shadows to highlights.

This is only used with people are photographing something that doesn’t require them to move the camera. Often seen set up on tripods with a variety of lens filters, you can capture a lot of amazing looks using this technique.

Example of a blended exposure image.

The only trouble is that you’ll end up taking a lot more photos than you anticipated. Most people will capture 3-5 exposures of the same composition before setting up another shot. Combine that with a few dozen angles, and you got yourself a ton of photos to work with!

5. For Focus Stacking

Another technique used by some photographers is called focus stacking. This process blends photos with different focal points together to create a depth of field that wouldn’t be possible in one shot.

Just like with exposure blending, focus stacking requires multiple photos, even from the same angle. Depending on how many shots you’re looking for, the photos can add up fast.

I’ve found myself with hundreds of focus stacked images from a shoot. Although taking the same photo over and over made sense to me, it definitely wouldn’t for a passerby. Maybe that’s why I was getting the weird looks…

6. To Capture More Variety In Moving Subjects

The last reason why photographers take so many photos is to get more variety in moving subjects. Things like the traffic in the background, the clouds in the sky, or the way the water looks in a waterfall.

Although these may not seem like much, the perfect positioning of something in your background makes a big difference. When it’s a moving object, you don’t always know what you’re going to get; but with multiple shots, there’s more to choose from.

To give you an example, photographers may take the same long exposure multiple times until the clouds look just right. Since the clouds are changing and moving in the wind, each shot looks a little bit different. By taking a bunch of photos at once, you get a few options to choose from when photo editing.

So How Many Pictures Should You Take?

If you’re new to photography or just take photos on your phone, hearing the quick rattle of a camera’s shutter can be a bit intimidating.

“If that person’s taking a lot of photos, maybe I should be too.”

The truth is, the number of photos you take is completely up to you. There’s no right or wrong; all that matters is that you got the shot you wanted. Sometimes I’ll take a few dozen photos of the same thing, while other times, I only take one.

Whether you want to capture every moment or just have an extra one for “backup,” don’t be afraid to take more photos with your camera. Just remember that taking a million photos of the same thing still won’t guarantee you a perfect photo. Before you set up for a shot, think about what you want the end result to look like.

A great starting ground to help you visualize this is with these 5 rules of composition to figure out how to frame the shot. From there, choose your camera settings and start getting your camera into position. After taking a quick test shot, see what you want to improve on and go from there.

Rinse and repeat until you have the perfect shot you were going for!

You know you have the perfect photo when there’s nothing you would want to change. You’re happy with the framing, exposure, focus, and everything in between. At that point, you’re ready to look for a new angle to photograph from. As you take more photos, you’ll have an easier time finding that perfect shot faster than when you’re just starting out.

To help get you started, check out this post on the top things every photographer should learn and practice.

Happy shooting!

– Brendan 🙂