make money from photography

Showing too many photos

Mark Lait

Mark Lait

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Showing too many photos

If you show you’re showing too many photos, there’s a very good chance that you’ll have a small or a no sale, why – have you ever seen the menu in a Chinese restaurant?

When you show them their photos, you’ll see your clients start to think ‘how am I going to choose, there are so many’ and that will introduce other unwanted thoughts like ‘how much is this going to cost me’ or ‘I didn’t expect to be here this long’  There is an optimum number of photos to show your client and in my studio I work on between 35 and 45, any more than that and they’ll start to lose interest, I’ve seen it time and again. Sites like this may offer a different perspective and please understand that this is just my experience. I want to tell you a story about one of my trainee photographers.

She wanted to do a shoot with some of her friends one day, it was a practise shoot – a young couple with a small child, so I let her use the studio and gave her free reign to do what she thought she needed to. She took about 200 photos and edited them down to about 80 or 90 to show the client – Many people think that having a digital camera means blasting away for as long as you can get away with it, and they see this as giving the client value but it’s just the opposite.


I’m Mark Lait and I’ve spent years and years drilling down into making the whole experience efficient and pleasant for everyone involved, if you want to accelerate your photography business knowledge, subscribe to my youtube channel, like this video, and give us the thumbs up.

A couple of things happened that day, firstly it took her about 2 hours to do the shoot which is way too long for everyone involved. By this time the baby had had enough and wanted to go home, he didn’t care what his parents were doing.

So after the shoot, they waited about an hour and a half for the edit to be done, I think the baby went to sleep or something – we usually edit live when we’re at work but this is a great example of what can happen to a solo operator – so by now they were 3 and a half hours in and the clients are about to be forced to choose their favourites from all those photos.

Let me tell you this, showing too many photos confuses the client, they are unable to choose between similar ones and they become frustrated. I’ve found that showing between 35 and 45 photos, you’ll have the best chance of a sale and it’s good advice because it’s come from more than a decade of seeing what the best way to do it is.


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I know one guy who takes only about 15 photos – that’s the entire shoot! and he sells them for enormous amounts of money – it’s that scarcity thing again.

If you create desire by showing your client the optimum number of images you’ll have a much greater chance of a sale. Back to the story – the photoshoot, editing, viewing and sale that day took 6 hours all up. Everyone was exhausted by the time it was finished and the result? 3 photos for $500, that’s all they bought, so when you take the cost of the session away from that, we theoretically lost $1000 by doing that shoot and this is what you really need to get your head around if you want to be a money making photographer, it’s not how much you charge, it’s how much did it cost – because that will determine what you charge otherwise your business is heading to an early grave. I’ve seen it many times.

It’s none of my business but when I see photographers showing people hundreds of photos or giving them the option of 17 different packages available in 12 different sizes I wonder how they make money – it’s the Chinese restaurant again – how are people going to choose from all of those options? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we don’t sell packages, we individualise them for each client if that’s what they want, we only sell one size print and we have 3 products in total.

It keeps it very simple and your client will appreciate that, so will your bank account. You can find a pdf of this blog in our tips section here and for an overview of the business of photography, check out the ‘Roadmap to Success’

When that photographer debriefed me on her photoshoot she said ‘I can see why we only show them 40 photos Mark’ it took her the whole day to do that shoot by time she set everything up and packed it all away. My method comes from a system I created and it’s worked ever since we’ve been using it but you know what? People have to find out for themselves and it’s good education to try different things and see what works the best, that’s all I did but if you want to shave years off figuring all this stuff out, join me at one of my training courses, I’ve already done it –  there’s a link below to get you there.

Next week I’m going to talk about one of the most shocking things I’ve ever heard a photography business owner say so stay tuned and I’ll see you then.