After a photo shoot, it is common practice to send the client a set of image to choose the final image(s) from. The initial set are called “selects” and the final images are called “final selects”. Several things affect the number of selects you send in and there can be competing interests at play. A few (really big) photographers just send in one final image – Dan Winters for example – but most of us don’t have that luxury, especially when we’re just starting out. So how many selects do you send clients?
The two competing factors are the client’s needs versus your own. Your needs are simple – you want the best photo possible to represent you in the world. Most likely your name will end up beside the image and a poor image will reflect badly on you. Also, you want to please the client so that they will give you repeat work, though this should be your second priority.
From the client side, things are a bit more complicated. Apart from the image itself, they have several other concerns. The photo must:
- Reflect the content it’s presented with (article, ad, etc.)
- Fit the format (dimensions) required
- Go with the direction of the brand
This results in the client wanting more images to choose from rather than less. So how do you balance the client’s needs without sacrificing your own?
I tend to lean towards tighter selects (less images), but still leave some choice. On portrait shoots I submit around 3-5 variations per set-up (perhaps with a variety of expressions). If on an editorial shoot I am able to do three different setups, I would submit around 15 selects. On locations shoots – for example a story on a part of town – I submit more images per location (around 10), since the content of the photos is broader.
There are times when I try to submit more photos. If you will be paid per image it makes sense to overshoot and offer a bit more choice – perhaps the client will see something they did think of when working on the quote and decide to buy more images. It is important however to keep the number of selects reasonable. Partly to manage expectations for future shoots when you might not be able to take as many images and also not to overwhelm the client with hundreds of photos.
Please let us know your thoughts in the comments, on how many selects to submit given various types of shoots. Perhaps we can arrive on some sort of group consensus. Be sure to let us know your reasoning as well.
Image by See-ming Lee