Are You Shooting More but Enjoying it Less?

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

One of the most interesting aspects of digital photograph is that we, or so it appears to me, seem to shoot more images during a photo session than we did when shooting film for a similar project. For an typical model test shoot, I used to expose two to three rolls of 35mm film. Sometimes these were 24 exposure rolls, so a model shoot might consist of 72 to 108 images.

I’m now shooting these same kinds of sessions using mirrorless cameras and am making many more shots. How many more? These days a typical shoot consists of 200 photographs, more than double my film-based sessions. By comparison a typical shoot with my new muse Erin Valakiri (at left) produces 300+ shots.

Are my photographs any better than when I was shooting film? I wasn’t sure but am convinced that not worrying about film and processing costs lets me produce more images faster. That’s my theory anyway, so I asked a few friends.

A former Shutterbug editor told me that it “could be true. I did a shoot with a model where I shot three rolls of 120 film, two rolls of 35mm but 600 shots with my DSLR! When working with digital, I tend to shoot a lot faster and take shots I might have passed on with film.”

One wedding photographer told me, “Just thinking about film and processing costs eases my resistance to pressing the shutter.” But here is where that the law of unintended consequences begins to peek its head out of the water. He then told me “at a wedding I did Sunday I found myself holding back toward the end because I was about out of memory cards! So I went through images, deleting a few that wouldn’t make the first edit.”

It’s not just on assignments where we shoot more digital frames than we would have shot with film in the past. Another part of any photo shoot is making tests to check exposure, much as we would use Polaroid film in the past. So maybe a better question might be: Is making all of these additional exposures adding premature wear and tear on our digital cameras, especially shutters, than their film counterparts might have experienced? Sure it is. Is this hastening these camera’s demise? I dunno.

But to answer the original question, I do think my digital photographs are better because the process allows me the freedom to explore variations that I might not have otherwise made. When making portraits it’s a concept that I call “shooting through a pose.” More info on the linked post.



If you’re interested in shooting portraits and how I use the cameras, lenses and lighting in my in-home studio, please pick up a copy of Studio Lighting Anywhere that’s available from with new copies selling for $23.34 and used copies at $2.23, as I write this, which is a heckuva deal. Kindle versions are $19.99.