What Percentage of Your Shots Are Worth Hanging?

Nobody shoots 100% on the ball, especially in the digital age. I’m sure we all have some percentage of our photos that are “keepers” — and by “keepers” I mean those shots that are worth saving and possibly showing somebody else. The digital Photography School Forum ran a “keepers” poll last week and the results show that a majority of photographers fall into the “less than 25%” category. But what about those photos that are really outstanding? You know, the ones that you’d hang on your wall… or better yet, the ones that somebody else would hang on their wall.

So honestly, how many of your shots turn out to be worthy of hanging? And as you gain experience, do you find that this percentage is increasing, decreasing, or staying the same?

What Percentage of Your Shots Are Worth Hanging?

Be sure to check out the results from the last poll on Color Space for Black and White Photos. It pretty much shows that we’re programmed to only use sRGB and Adobe RGB, even when working with grayscale images. Almost nobody uses grayscale color spaces, and a surprising amount of voters don’t know what a color space is. Well folks, it’s kind of a dry topic so it’s perfectly understandable.

23 thoughts on “What Percentage of Your Shots Are Worth Hanging?

  1. Janne

    None. I’m not nearly good enough to create something anybody wouldd want to see every day in their home; I doubt I ever be. Which is fine. I don’t do photography despite being bad at it – I do it precisely _because_ I’m bad. This is one part of my life where I can do something I really love doing, and have zero pressure to accomplish anything in the process. If I were ever to accidentally become good at it, I’d have to find another hobby.

  2. Damien Franco

    I put my vote on the 1-5% for outstanding. As I’ve gained experience as a photographer I found that the number has pretty much stayed the same. The majority of my shots are well thought out and planned. I will study a subject for quite some time before taking a few shots from different angles. What I truly found was that even though I was becoming a better photographer, I was also more picky on what constituted a great shot! I wouldn’t hang most of the stuff I was doing five years ago on my walls today!

  3. Brian Auer Post author

    I feel the same way about getting pickier as time goes on. I look back at shots from 4 or 5 years ago that I was so proud of and I’m really not impressed with them anymore.

  4. ramin

    I’m also quite firmly in the 1-5% camp. At least for shots that I plan and think ahead for. Of course then there are the shots I take of our dogs (or others dogs) and then we’re firmly in the < 1% camp.

    I think becoming pickier as your skills increase is only natural. I know that I also feel the same way about many of my older shots. Having a photoblog is a good way to look back and see the progress (or in my case, our dogs photoblog ;).

  5. Mustanir

    I think a lot of it comes down to subject matter as well. A lot of my photos aren’t of things I would think about sticking up on a wall.

    I’d also bet that if this was a poll of “how many of your photos ARE on your or other people’s walls” the result would be really minimal. In my case, of the nearly 4,000 photos on my Flickr so far only 3 have been hung up anyway as far as I know :p

  6. Antoine Khater

    I did say 1% 5% but that is the ones I am willing to hang in my own home or offer to friends and family. If we are talking about the ones I think that are worth to be sold then <1%

  7. the_wolf_brigade

    I too went with 1-5%. Initially when I started last year I would have answered none, though I find that I’m getting the hang of things now.

    I’m trying to shoot more film than digital, so generally from a 10 shot roll of 120 on my Pentax 6×7 I get 2-3 that I absolutely love. However, as it’s film and therefore has processing costs I’m much more careful with this medium.

    As for digital I tend to use it mainly for shooting the kids and test shots for my film so the “winner” rate is probably less than 1%, though taken in context of when I’m actually serious about shooting I have about the same wall worthy percentage.

  8. My Camera World

    A very interesting topic for discussion Brian:

    I find that I am way more critical of my images than others are. Many of my images find favour with others, but I tend to be looking for the ultimate WOW factor and these are harder to come by.

    A lot of my photography focuses on a photo shoot that I have planned. During a shoot I will take about a hundred photos. About 10-15% has real flaws in them, maybe only I can see but flaws no less. About 10-20% I will rate as workable and over a period of time will go back and enhance as a fine art image.

    The bulk of the other images 40-60% are almost duplicates, in that they have minor positional or focus changes and therefore would be a repetition of the others I have selected.. When others view the folder they seem to enjoy them and I guess would be willing to hang them.

    I find that most non-professional photographers are way to critical of their own work and underestimate how many of the images would find enjoyment in the homes of others.

    Janne: On your blog there are some good photos that I would be willing to hang on a wall.
    I just love the man in blue T-shirt sitting against the blue-green wall.. (The manager of an outside eatery behind the Saigon Central Mosque is taking a rest.)

    Niels Henriksen

  9. Michael

    I choose 1 – 5% but that is for landscape and nature work. I tend to shoot a lot more when outdoors. This is my passion and I tend to experiment a lot when in the field. I tend to bracket more as well just to find the best exposure and to work with HDR in post-processing.

    In the studio, the percentage would be more like 50% because it is a much more controlled environment.

  10. Neil Creek

    I have taken a LOT of photos, and I have very little wallspace. I only have two of my photos framed and hung, and I have to compete for wall space with my very talented painter wife :) So in reality, I’ve only hung about 0.0001% of every photo that has come out of my cameras.

    As for photos that I WOULD hang, if I had enough wall space, or a nice digital picture frame, it still falls well under the 1% mark. I tend to take a lot of photos and only end up using a very few of them. Only the best of those are worth returning to, and only the best of several shoots are ones I would consider favourites. Only the very best of my favourites would be ones I’d hang.

    As others have said, I guess being very picky means you can really be confident that your picks of the picks are really very strong photos. Besides, I like impressing people :)

  11. dawn

    Out of the 15 pieces hanging in my house, 14 are my own photography (the 15th is a painting by my grandmother). My photography hangs in my office, in my colleagues’ offices, and a few other places. If someone asks for a print, I give it to them. It makes me happy to do so and if they like it, then that’s great. :-)

  12. libeco

    I have interpreted the poll a little differently because I don’t really hang anthing on my wall. I went for 5%-10% of the images I’m happy about. Sometimes it’s not a beautiful picture, but I’m just happy I was able to end up with a picture the way I intended it…

  13. Mark Quinn

    I think that my ratio has actually decreased since I have started shooting professionally. True outstanding levels of photography are getting very hard to attain I am finding that as I learn more and study ture experts, and the work of my peers my standard continue to rise and the ratio drops. I start to get better stuff, learn more and cycle repeats.

  14. Rob

    I think the answer to this question will have just as much to with what kind of shooter you are as how “good” you are. I’ve been doing almost exclusively documentary photography. On a given day I will take minimum 200 shots. I would say I’m happy with 5-10% of them, and they become part of my project, so that’s what I answered. But I don’t think anyone would hang very many of those on a wall, just because they aren’t the kind of shots that people hang. I would think that a well practiced fine art photographer would be much much higher, because 1) they are trying to get that kind of image and 2) they shoot slower and work harder for each one.

  15. Chica

    I’ve thought of this before, and I voted 25-50% because I love having stuff on my walls. I actually enjoy every single thing I make or do, and they would have that 25% chance of getting on my wall, if I had the space. It’s not really because I love every photograph, it’s because I have this obsession of covering my walls with things. Can’t stand a bare wall. :)

  16. CyberCarsten

    I went for 1-5%. Actually I applied little steelropes to the walls so I can hang prints without framing and change them easily (space for around 20 prints in A3 / A2). If I still like them after a few week; I’ll frame them.

    A printed shot has a total better visual quality than on screen,

  17. Chris

    Interesting and very subjective; when I was a freelance I sold pictures that I didn’t like particularly and failed to sell shots Iiked a lot…not sure what that say’s about me or editors?

  18. Jim Goldstein

    Funny thing is a lot of my photographs are worthy of framing. Ironically as many images as I have framed most of those framed photographs end up sitting in a closet versus hanging on my wall. I need to change that. Just to give you an idea of how behind I am… all the photographs hanging in my home (all 4 of them) are from my film days.

  19. the_wolf_brigade


    As film is now making a comeback, at least most in the form of ‘toy’ cameras, maybe in your case this is one of those moments where retro has become cool again? :D You might just be up with the times and not even know it!

    (My two that are framed and hanging on my wall are also film…I don’t have more because my wife is not keen on removing the wedding pictures for me to put something of mine there :) )

  20. Glen

    I take each photo batch through a multi-step elimination process. Of the out-of-the-camera group only about 25% are saved for possible processing. Of those, about half are actually processed. Then maybe half of those are printed. Of those, I really like and consider frameworthy only one or two. They don’t get framed, though, as I’m short of wall space.

  21. Pingback: What’s Your Experience With Film?

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