You Need To Be Creating 10-20 Amazing Images A Day Regardless Of Circumstances

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Every year, I have countless college seniors come by to meet and show me their portfolios, many of which show very good work. Then I pose the question, “How long did it take to create those 12-20 images?” The answer is always the same, “This is my work, which I did over the last year.”

That’s wonderful, but in the professional world, that you need to be creating 12-20 AMAZING images day-in and day-out, everyday, regardless of circumstances, since that’s what is demanded (expected?) of you as a professional.

via feinknopf: The Value of Experience.

There Are 101 Comments On This Article.

      • Stu & Christian,
        I worked for Richard Avedon, Robert Mapplethorpe, Arnold Newman, Joyce Tenneson & Horst. Never once did I see them come into work where they did not create great imagery day in and day out. It was a commitment to quality of which I speak. Resource Magazine recently showed a stat that 3 years after entering the marketplace as a photographer, only 15% remain as photographers. Those lucky 15% probably remain because they understand the need to produce quality work daily. I have manged to survive the last 25 years so, I think I understand a bit about quality work, as well. Throw out the 10-20 if you wish but do understand that producing good work everyday is what is critical. It cannot merely be happenstance.

        • Which is by the way something that applies to all careers.

          Every career is made up of a few elements, but two at the center are (1) skill & knowledge and (2) professionalism. There’s also social skills, desire to advance, etc. etc.

          In Corporate America there is a metric called ‘span of control’ – the ideal number of employees a manager should oversee for the balance of effectiveness and efficiency. Depending on company it’s somewhere between 8-12.

          What that also means, in the hierarchy of jobs (whether as an employee or as an entrepreneur), only one in 8 on average will advance to the next level of the game. The rest will stagnate and fall behind. Or will will have to start over in a new game.

          What percentage is 1 in 8? 12.5% – sound close to the 15% in Resource magazine, doesn’t it?

          This is not unique to photographers. This is what people who work for a living do (or should do). For everyone else there is Wellfare (or was).

        • Hey Brad

          Sorry I didn’t respond earlier I’ve been at work. Ta daa. etc etc…

          Anyway my only complaint was the wording, everyone seems to of covered this in below threads. Its not realistic to set goals like this, and you’ll put alot of people off along the way. College seniors don’t get paid like pro’s because they are just starting out. They can’t be expected to produce like pro’s too. After working in photography for 10+ years I still find it amazing how much misinformation is out there. How to really make it etc is such bullshit, its different for everyone. Rules like this just infuriate me as they do far more harm than good. Not everybody is fully confident in what they want, can accomplish or want to do, isn’t teaching a nurturing game?

          Also, not being rude mate, but aren’t all those Photographers, as prestigious as they are, pretty old or dead by now? You must be getting on abit yourself, and with the greatest respect, maybe you built your rep and portfolio and experience in a different era. Its not the same now, as I am sure you know.

          Anyway, I didn’t mean offence, I just think these sort of posts should be about encouragement, not about setting people up for failure. It took me years to realize I could do it at all, let alone produce things I thought were great. Your website is lovely but eveyone is different. Anyway, enough.

          • Thank you for your reply.

            Please read Andrew Frasz’s comments in this thread as he was a former assistant and can put the comments, which taken out of context, into context.

            As far as getting on abit, I am 49 and truly feel I am hitting my stride as an architectural photographer. I grew up son on an architect, studied architecture and it takes years of looking at architecture to develop your vision and know the vocabulary to create good work. It is a different era much much remains the same and I still reflect on many of the lessons I learned working with those greats.

            Thank you for your kind words about my work. I wish to inspire and not degrade or demoralize and I am sorry if that is what some took away. It is also why I spent the time I have on this thread to try to further explain and clarify my intent.

            If I were a jackass or douche, as some contend, I would have let it be and just said, F*** You!

            Take good care.

            • Hi Brad – well that was my agreement with Stu – I think to present the comment/critique in such a way that one leaves a full time student feel they need to make that many excellent photos in such a short time, is unrealistic. If you were to say, ‘now, if you want to work in the field, you will have to be able to do that kind of work in a few days, not a year’ or something to that effect, that would make more sense. A full time college student can’t put out the same kind of quantity and quality of work as a working professional.

              • Christian,
                That is the point. Here are the realities of collegiate life and these are the realities of the professional world. Prepare yourself for what will be expected of you. We are NOT talking about the world of “art”, though I hope we may aspire to the artistic but, the realities of what it means to be a commercial photographer.

    • Bullshit was the word that first popped into my head, but I agree with your sentiment. This seems to be one of the side-effects of the content-starved Internet age — articles by self-proclaimed experts that set rules for everyone else to follow. This approach might work for some people, but proclaiming it to be a universal rule is pretty stupid. Following it is even more stupid.

  1. Indeed, instagram phone pics? what you ate, what you did, where you are & le pet kind?


  2. Stu & Stan,
    It’s the way of professionals. Creating consistent good images. One to two images an hour is hampered mostly by travel between locations.

  3. Ansel Adams considered his year a success if he got a dozen solid images. And, this douche posed the question as a trap anyway. Who in their right mind is going to show up for a portfolio review, etc. with images they’ve shot in the past 24 hours? Or even a week or a month?

    I understand that, as a pro, you’ve got to bring your A-game every day you’re on the job, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk in getting your point across.

      • Yes, douche. An experienced douche.

        Just because someone has experience, talent, whatever doesn’t give them carte blanche to be an asshole/douchebag/jerk. This guy was very obviously setting these students up to fail his question, his criteria. Setting someone up to fail straightaway is just being a bully and it serves no purpose other than to puff his ego and deflate their spirits. He could say the same things without being rude about it, but he chose to be rude, and to highlight his rudeness, so I called him a douche.

        Everyone is a douche from time to time. You, for example, telling me that you hate me, is a douche response. I’ve been a douche on occasion. It’s a fact of life – we all do stupid, arrogant things from time to time. I’m not saying this dude has to remain a douche the rest of his life. I just wish he’d pull his head out of his ass, retract his statement, and rethink the way he approaches recent graduates. The culture of hazing is wholly unproductive, and that’s essentially what he’s doing, albeit in a somewhat mild form. I’m not saying treat each new photographer as if they’re the Messiah, but being realistic goes both ways.

        By the way, I don’t care if you hate me :) And, I doubt if you actually mean hate anyway. I’ve done nothing to warrant a true and burning hatred. If you do legitimately hate me, I feel sorry for you.

        • I think it’s good for those students to get rejected. If they stop there they never had drive to be a professional photographer. Being honest and blunt isn’t being a douche.

          • Being honest and blunt is perfectly acceptable. But, that’s not what this dude is talking about. He’s talking about them having put the time and effort into assembling a proper portfolio then, out of the blue, expecting them to know they should only have included work done within x period of time. That is what I’m critical of, not honest feedback.

        • JR

          I am anything but a douche. I just got off the phone with a fellow photographer, trying to help him by giving advice as I spend several hours every week trying to help others. Anyone who knows me, including many students, know I am not a douche and that is not the point here. Lots of people have “happy little accidents” even with their iPhone, me included, and over a couple years you can string together a portfolio that might not even look half bad. My point to these students is that you will be expected, as a professional, to do this caliber of work day in and day out. It cannot merely be luck. No art director or photo editor will except, “Sorry I didn’t produce today. I just wasn’t having a good day.” Everyday need to be a good day and you need to have the skills and vision to make it so.

          • I do understand the overall point.

            I would still contend, though, that it could have, and should have, been made a different way. Saying something akin to “you’re not good enough because you made this work over the course of a year instead of a day” is rather harsh. Just because the work was made over the course of a year certainly doesn’t indicate they cannot produce solid work in a day. Day in and day out, the technical proficiency and developed creativity must be present. On this, we can both agree. Weeding out those who have the happy accidents from those who can produce on demand is an important function, but there, again, is a better way to communicate that point.

            • An hour with a student, carefully looking at image by image and discussing them, critically, technically and conceptually is being broken down into two sentences. No one walking into my studio, gets 5 minutes of my time and I merely throw them out on the street. I am warm, nurturing and caring but I do want them to have an understanding of that which they will face in the working world. The collegiate world largely isolates them from this and they need someone to help to understand these realities. Come to me, we will talk and we can see how well you feel I communicate.

              • I appreciate that tone much better, for what it’s worth. I have the feeling that, after we would work through our communication styles and any misunderstandings, we’d probably get on all right. I don’t, however, often make it to Columbus. Should, by some chance, I make it to your area in the near future, I’d be glad to drop by for a chat.

              • And, I retract calling you a douche after reading your responses to me and some of the other commenters. I still disagree with how you made your point, but on the point itself we can agree.

                  • I know I’m coming to this conversation a little late but I do want to offer my opinion since I have a unique perspective here. I worked with Brad for 3 years as a full-time assistant straight out of college. Brad and I had this same exact conversation the first time I met him in 2004 when I came to interview for an internship. At no point in our first conversation did it ever strike me that he was trying to be rude or harsh or intimidating. He did not immediately scoff or discard the work I shared with him (and I don’t think I ever saw him do that with other students in my 3 years). What he did say is you’re on the right track. “Keep this up and you can go as far as you like.” I was impressed, to say the least. Knowing now how much Brad works (which when I was there we were shooting 150-200 days a year), that fact that he took the time to sit down with me was pretty selfless.

                    I work in New York City now as a professional photographer and assistant to some amazing people as well. The ability and success I’ve had is directly related to skills and advice I received while working with Brad. Every successful career I’ve witnessed can attest to the ability to create 10-20 great pictures in a given day. Perhaps what Brad should amend his advice to say is “you need to be able to produce these kinds of images, on demand, under the pressure of a harsh critic, without excuses, day in and day out if.”

                    • Thank you kindly, Andrew. Things written often do not share the tome in what way they are presented and this is the case here. You know first hand how much I give to my clients, my staff and my feelow photographers so I appreciate your support.

                      I write my blog to to aggrandize myself but to help others along the way. In an upcoming post to discuss my past assistants I say, “If I leave this world and all I have to show is the fact that I have helped them along their journey, the great work that all of them are producing will be enough. ” and that is where my heart is.

                      Take good care, my friend.

          • Respectfully sir, I have to agree with JR on this one. You’re original post came off a little as an industry guy bloviating about his own success and lecturing others on how to measure up.

            You said 12-20 AMAZING images EVERYDAY, not per shoot, or per working day. Does that mean I’m not a professional because I don’t make 12-20 AMAZING images on my day off? On days I didn’t book work does that make me less of a photographer? If a client backs out at the last minute and I don’t produce that day does that make me less of a photographer? Are you producing 12-20 AMAZING images on the days you’re donating your time to those students? The whole thing CAME ACROSS a little douchey, not implying you are a full-time jerk. The words AMAZING and EVERYDAY are what set it off for me.

            If I shoot 100 images for a client, I narrow them down to about 40-60 useable images. I then whittle those down to 10 solid images. I wait a day or two then whittle those down to 1-4 images that I would actually use in my book to showcase my work as I was taught in school. Does this make me any less of a photographer? I see so much crap out there that people try to pass off as AMAZING, that when I hear comments like you made, I roll my eye and think of Instagram and the nauseating sunset/sunrise/flower/kitten/puppy/girlfriend/food pictures that actually look interesting because they’ve been covered with something interesting…a filter.

            We all learn different, and I can appreciate you trying to pass across a work ethic needed to succeed in this industry. But touting longevity and a rigid technique for success isn’t a precursor to having people respect ones work.

  4. I don’t think that’s fair to be telling students beginning their photographic journey. Not every photographer wants/should be a journalistic photographer where maybe (but probably not) these demands are realistic. There is nothing wrong with being selective and taking your time to create a quality body of work. In a world where we are overexposed with thousands of images a day, I think we do need to think about the photographs we are making and it’s completely natural that this process take time.

  5. While I think it’s impractical to go out and shoot 20 amazing images every single day while trying to juggle everything that goes on during a typical day, if you can’t do it, what does that tell whoever is hiring you? Pretty much says that if you’re hired for this job, it could look amazing or it could be total junk/mediocre. I think this is great advice.

  6. Catchy point, but poorly stated.

    A career is not a switch that goes from off to on, it’s a journey. Is a professional photographer at the top of his career, with a full shooting calendar, a rep, etc. etc. creating that 10-12 images of high quality (or let’s say good enough for client delivery of his/her type of client roster)? Yes. Did he/she get there the day they walked out of school. Of course not. Does every student getting out of school have a client roste like that? No. Does every student getting ouf of school have a full shooting calendar and a whole team? No. Are they aspiring to get there? Most of them do. Are they working to get there eventually? Most of them do.

    And another point – does that photographer have 80,000 images in his portfolio (10-12 amazing images * 365 days * 20 years experience)? No, when has his rep show his book, there are probably still only less than 100, possibly less than 36 images in there. The most amazing of his work.

    And let’s close with another thought: In the fashion industry designers used to show two collections a year, a Fall and a Spring runway show. Today many designers have to show 8 collections a year to meet demand of retailers (Resort, pre-Fall, etc.). At a recent panel discussion there was a good debate about that, and how it has negatively impacted creativity. In the old days designes could take a breather and get creatively inspired, and their next collection would have a new take . Now they have to start the next one as the previous one wraps up. No time for a creative pause and recharge. So the demand that someone creates 10-12 amazing pictures may be the reality of a ‘commercial’ photographer, but it’s not the essence of someone who is focused on ‘creating amazing images’. No one can be that creative – it will all be a soup of rehashed minor tweaks of what he did the day before….

    • I think the 10-20 images point is being overstated. The analogy to the students was that the work you do as a professional, day in and day out needs to be of the same caliber as that which you have produced to create your portfolio. Many of the students I see, these are their only 10-15 good pieces that they have done over the past two years. I merely want them to understand the harsh realities of quality and consistency.

      • You also have to remember that they may have had “20 image portfolios” hammered into their heads over and over again like I did and still do to this day.

  7. If you go to the link and actually read the whole post, it puts this quote in perspective. I’ve never met, or even heard of, a professional photographer who is creating 12-20 amazing images every single day. The reality is that running a successful photo business involves a lot more than just taking pictures all the time. I think his point is that it takes time to hone your vision and become experienced enough that you can go into any situation at any time and come out with extraordinary results.

    It is kind of ironic that his grammar in the second paragraph is so bad. He should take the time to write 12-20 AMAZING sentences every day to hone his writing skills, or at least edit his post before he publishes it.

    • James,
      I accept that I am a better photographer than a writer or I would be a writer. I will say, I “try” with my blog to give back to fellow photographer and give what I hope is helpful advice. It is what I believe Rob tries to do here everyday with his blog and what I hope to do, though my writing may fall a bit short from time to time.

      • Brad – I just thought the juxtaposition of demanding excellence with the grammar error was kind of funny (to me). I wasn’t trying to criticize your efforts to give back to fellow photographers. I admire how much time you spend as a mentor. All of us learned from someone else at some point in our career, so people shouldn’t be giving you a hard time. Keep up the good work!

  8. Anyone consider the expenses involved in such a scenario? If you’re talking about paid work, how does one find that much work, (‘every day’) in an oversaturated market? The intent however is noted.

  9. I was completely angered by this statement at first. It’s the biggest pile of horse shit I’ve heard in a long time.

    It’s this kind of mentality that has created this mess that the world is in. This whole mass consumption, churn and burn, generic, homogenised crap of the world ideal. Is there no value for what is special and for what is real? No honouring of artistic process and for actual content?

    But then I searched for the author’s website where I saw nothing but faceless, generic, homogenised, commercial photos. Why is his ‘recent work’ category not brimming with the kind of photos he is preaching about taking every day?

    When an artist and a photographer tells me this and one who’s work stands for what they are preaching, then I’ll listen and be concerned. In the meantime I hope people see the wood for the trees because this guy is sprouting nothing but shit.

    • Add to that, that photographers who are that professional should know that a portfolio website coded in Flash is not an effective marketing tool in this day and age. That debate concluded 5 years ago.

    • Joe,
      Very sorry you feel that way. I am an architectural photographer. Six projects I shot appeared in Architectural Record in 2012 and we just did a tally and nearly 200 projects I have shot have won either a national or international design award with my images. I am not so arrogant as to say that I do great work but I think the work is good and far from the shit you deem it. From you comment, “faceless, generic, homogenised, commercial photos”, I really wonder if you bothered to look at the website at all or just fired off a comment. You comment reminds me of a term my High School English teacher used to use, Schadenfreude – pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.

      • Brian,

        Bold statements such as the one you made are always going to provoke a response in people. If you don’t want to hear the reaction to it I suggest, for your own sake, you either don’t read the comments or blogs or perhaps be a little more mindful of the people you are writing to in the first place. Particularly when the statement you made insults those working their lives to create the best images they can. To suggest someone’s folio, who is based upon images they have spent making over the past year, is inferior because it’s a year old is really quite insulting, arrogant and is in context no different from the schadenfreude you are are speaking of because the way you have written it suggests the photographer is inferior.

        It’s especially worrying to me since in my 20 year career I have learned things to be different. A photographer spends their life developing their style, their voice. It can take time to be inspired. It takes time to generate original ideas and concepts. Weeks to produce the details, a day or two to shoot them and then sometimes days, weeks in post to finish the image to ones expectations.

        I’m sorry, I stand by what I said. Photography takes time and to lessen another’s work and output by declaring they should be doing this every days is beyond absurd.


        • Joe,
          You completely misconstrue what I am saying and how I am saying it. If you go and read the WHOLE blog post you will see that I refer to Malcolm Gladwell and his 10,000 hours to perfect one’s skills so I know it takes time. I have NEVER ever said to ANY student their work is inferior. In fact, I am always quite complimentary and try to give constructive criticism. The fact is, regardless of how incredible their portfolio may be, they need to understand that they will need to produce this work, on demand, in the Professional world. Maybe you didn’t take that away from what I was trying to say but that was what is at the heart of my statement. There aren’t any BAD DAYS, as a professional. Add the book “The War of Art” to your nightstand as it addresses that concept throughout.

          • Brad,

            When this many people “misconstrue” what you said, it’s time to accept that it’s not everyone else, but you who needs to make an adjustment. I only say this as a fellow teacher. Just like being a professional photographer, you have to build your craft as a teacher. Every statement made will have impact when it is imparted as a path to being successful. Whittle away the generalizations, strip away the opinions, and get down to the barebones of how you’ve been able to survive in your field. That information would be very beneficial to hear, and greatly appreciated by me as a photographer trying to eek out a meager living.

            • Michael,
              The reason I am being misconstrued is not that what I am saying is necessarily wrong but taken out of context. The title of the blog piece from which it is drawn is called, “The Value of Experience” not, “If you can’t make 20 great images a day, YOU SUCK!” This is no more than the sound bite culture we have become. It is no different than when Obama said, “You didn’t build that” in the context of a greater speech and the Republicans jumped all over that sound bite. I think that when Rob put this out there, he thought people might look further as oppose to merely comment on two sentences alone. Read the rest of my blog post and maybe some of the information you seek you will find within. If you can teach a class by distilling all your knowledge into two sentences, you are a better man than I.

              • Brad, I did read your original blog post before I made any of my comments here and I still believe your lack of clarity is what caused the fire storm. Through the day, your responses you’ve clarified and honed your argument. I’d suggest doing that type of editing of yourself in the future to have a firm, yet clear purpose to your statements. This will help your students and people looking to you for advice understand better the lessons you’re trying to impart. The written word is a difficult medium to master, not respecting it can lead to reactions you’ve seen today. “I meant to say” can’t be an excuse with regards to a post about excellence in the arts.

                • See I did it to myself. I made and edit that disrupted a later sentence.

                  “Through the day, your responses HAVE clarified and honed your argument.”

                  • Michael, I am sadly not Jon Stewart with a team of writers making me look good. I am merely one man who is trying desperately to do excellent work for my clients, day in and day out, and “hope” along the way I may impart some knowledge to help other in the field along. Yes, I maybe could have used the word GREAT and not AMAZING. Yes, the 10-20 analogy was referring to a similar volume of work they are producing in a couple of years, work of that same caliber will be needed to be produced on a daily basis. What is at the core of this? To survive professionally you need to be able to create great work every day, consistently or you will not survive and I stand by that.

                    • I’m not arguing that point sir, I’m only saying there was probably a less inflammatory way of saying it. If your goal is to impart some small knowledge, then take it seriously and think out what you want to say instead of charging in and expecting others to figure out what “you mean.” Would you create so blindly with your photography? I think not? Not taking the same amount of time in the teaching tells a story of a man who doesn’t take it seriously. As you noted about being a photographer working with clients, perception is very important.

  10. Everything in photography can begin and end with the photographer’s passion and enthusiasm as well as their obsession or compulsion for looking. Garry Winogrand’s photographs clearly demonstrate, that an otherwise pretty undistinguished looking guy when investigating a very real world circumstance and condition, and responding to that condition in a extraordinarily personal, specific, selected, and highly considered way made some of the most special photographs of his time. Consider that his photographs were not at his expense, but more of an expression of his joy of seeing. He said that he photographed in order to see what a thing looked like when photographed. This is a critical statement about his connection to a larger idea about art, photography and personal track in regards to a treatment of content by an interpreter who is also as much a practitioner.

    When speaking of Winogrand’s life and work, try to take into account that on
    his passing, he left behind some two thousand, five hundred rolls of undeveloped 35mm film, six thousand, five hundred rolls that were developed , but not contacted to proofs and another three hundred rolls with contact proofs, but without any frames selected on them. Those alone total around three
    hundred – thousand images. Then, add all the edited rolls, the remarkable photographs and the number of phenomenal books, collections and bodies of work. Winogrand’s life and work would be all the proof necessary of the joyful commitment one makes for a full life, a busy career and artistic resolution.

    • I don’t know and I am surprised, as well. I guess people don’t want to be expected to produce high quality work daily. Why else would you argue with the concept of trying to create great work, day in, day out, every day of your life. I may not succeed but, at least I try.

  11. I am not a professional Photographer, but i do really like photography. I do no agree with that statement, but in a way I undestand the point. I do have some experience in photojournalism and documentary photography and from what i do understand and experience, that statemet only put unecessary extra pressure on my work. There are so many factors that are out of my control. Maybe in a more controled environment you will have more chances to achived those 15 or 20 amazing photos in a day. For me personally that statement do not apply, even when i would really like to achive that, but then again, so many factors out of my control. I may reach some ideas and realize diferent ways to approach my subjetc, and return to the same place for a week , a month….and be happy if i can achieve ac ouple of amazing photos.

  12. Feinkopf is an architectural photographer. What he says applies to architectural photography and he is right! You better be able to produce stunning architectural images each time you photograph a building because otherwise you are out of the game. Having said that, you don’t need 10,000 to master only architectural photography, instead you should be able to master photography as art and craft in general, from every aspect of it, be it in portraiture or photojournalism. Architectural photography requires certain regime of work. I think you will be able to reproduce good results when you plan dusk or dawn, use the right gear and think like architects do. That’s all. There should be an element of surprisse to attract the viewer but that aplies to all photography. Julius Shulman, whom I had the privilege of interviewing for two European magazines photographed a “boring” gas station in Anaheim in broad daylight and he made it interesting by breaking the boring structure with a a contour of a convertible and a female hands in gloves with a bracelet made of pearls. Shulman asked the architect’s wife to pull in front of the camera with her MG and put her pearl necklace on her hand. That’s genius. That’s the 10,000 hour theory in practice. 20 great images a day – YES, but please, leave the adjective: AMAZING for special occasions like this:

    • Slav,
      Thank you for your support and I will concur, maybe I should have used the term GREAT and not AMAZING. I will say, when I get flown cross country to shoot 25 images over 3 days for a client (granted that is 8 shots a day), they expect 25 great images. If I provided them with 2 or 3 and 20+ crummy images, I would not be going photography much longer.
      All the Best,


    • I feel like the arbitrator in the Hockey dispute:

      Owners, the players say they can only score a maximum of 5 goals in a game, will that be enough?

      Forget about a f***ing number. Just go out and do GREAT work!

  13. From my vantage point all Mr Feinknopf is attempting to accomplish is to make an impression upon the college students regarding the mountain of dedication it will take to having a remote chance of earning a living, let alone becoming a successful photographer. His own mentor Richard Avedon summed it up best:

    “And if a day goes by without my doing something related to photography, it’s as though I’ve neglected something essential to my existence, as though I had forgotten to wake up. I know that the accident of my being a photographer has made my life possible. – Richard Avedon”

    Richard Avedon also said if he had to start over today it would be much harder. And he said this in 1965! Wrap your head around that :)

    To those who are not photographers, but consider themselves experts on photography, I suggest they put together a portfolio of photographs and see how it goes.

    As for the attrition rate of photography students and photographers, it’s significantly higher than 85%. One can only pray hard work and talent will be enough.

    As a side note, I hope to see the day when infighting among photographers ends.

  14. The question here is not 20 are too many, the question is what the “quality” of those 20 has to be.

    Really, by looking around I can see I can churn out 40 pics that would be considered “GREAT” work. Just as an example this is the same thing I see over and over again everywhere so I guess that is the “great” work. I can take 50 a day of those if you want, but it would be quite boring, just like working at mcdonalds churining out mcmenus.

    The question here is how shitty publications are nowadays and how closed the world of photography is. I’m sorry but editors, you guys are all an ego of your own (except for some respectable ones), there’s no way a photographer can now what you want, you are worse than a bad girlfriend.

    First of all, you guys have to promote MEANINGFUL photography, make up your mind and go for what you want, not for what sells the most. Then you can go cocky if you want.

    • Agreed. When I speak with a student I want to inspire them to AMAZE me, to go out and aspire to do GREAT work not to just produce the good. People can poke holes at the word AMAZING or at the QUANTITY but the professional world is a demanding one. I would rather encourage a student to push himself to greatness than to merely say, “If you great a good shot every now and again but the rest is rather mediocre, you will be just fine in the world of photography”, as I would be lying.

  15. Please post for us the 600 amazing images you have created this year alone, so you can prove to all of us lesser photographers how prolific and talented you are.

    • Dan,
      My pleasure!
      Here is my Archive,
      Most of the work you see there was produced in 2012! There is easily 600 images within. Is every shot AMAZING & GREAT, No! I am my own harshest critic and I rarely like any of my own work. That said, the work seen is consistently good, day in and day out. My clients can attest that I produce great results for them consistently. In the past few years I have shot several projects, side by side with some of the best, by my standards, in the world and my images hold up. Please feel free to look at the work and call it shit but the clients whom have won nearly 200 national or international design awards may beg to differ.

    • What constitutes an ‘amazing’ image is a very subject and relative notion.

      A photography student may consider a shot amazing, that leaves a 20 year veteran totally cold. It may well be amazing based on the students point of reference, experience, and abilities.

      Likewise, something we might shoot for a commercial client, may be an amazing shot for that campaign or that annual report. It may make the client truckloads of money because it is visually effective. But if someone saw it out of context, it may look totally bland and boring.

      A shot may be amazing to the creator based on the most challenging circumstances under which it was achieved. Yet without that context, it may be the most boring shot in the history of man kind.

      A shot of a celebrity may be very exciting, not because of the shot, but because of the subject. Show it to someone from another country who doesn’t know the subject, and it may totally fall flat.

      Such the notion of a portfolio of ‘amazing’ shots is somewhat misguided to start with.

      As has been clarified in the comments above already, it’s really about the fact that as a photographer we should always do the most professional work in the context of the assignment, always be on our ‘A’ game. Being successful at that may pay a lot of bills and still leave you with a portfolio that is creatively totally non-inspiring.

      Such is the challenge in a field that is both commercial and artistic at the same time. Amazing is artistic. Professional is commercial. We always want both, and we usually do one or the other most times.

    • Dan,
      BTW, if you look at the project and the number of images and divide by 8-18 you can probably figure how many days I was at that project to shoot it.

    • Dan,
      Well, what did you find as I stepped up to your challenge. I will not contend being talented for that is not for me to judge but I think you found a solid body of work that represented 600+ images as you asked that was shot in the past year.

      • Well, actually I asked that you show us 600 images produced THIS year, as that is what the math of your proclamation dictates. But from the work you show, you are undoubtedly a talented and prolific photographer of empty rooms. Now, I get what you’re saying- photographers need to PRODUCE. But it’s entirely conditional on the subject matter one chooses as a photographer. I know professional sports shooters that may go several games without getting an “amazing” image. It’s the nature of that genre. I just think that instantly dismissing photo students for showing work produced within a year is incredibly insulting, and I say this as both a photographer and teacher.
        I think a better method of critique would be to ask photographers to show their portfolio, as well as their last three shoots. If the work doesn’t resemble or rise to nearly the same level as their portfolio, then it’s disingenuous, and a misrepresentation of their true ability. Yes, anyone can come up with the occasional “happy accident”. But when it comes to portfolios, or a way to show a client the caliber of work one is capable of, I see no problem in having work that is from years past.
        Yours is a genre of photography that may lend itself to getting 20 perfectly usable images in a single day. A cookbook photographer might get two. A combat photographer, wildlife photographer, or bottom-feeding Paparazzi might not get any.
        I understand the intent in your statement, it’s just that the hyperbole used had many shooters turned off by what they considered an arrogant boast. As an exercise, say “I personally create fifteen amazing images every day regardless of the circumstances.” Out loud. To a group of professional photographers. Note the reaction.

        • Those who are good will feel up to the challenge and will go out and produce great work. Those who are not will sigh and roll their eyes, as we have found here. Sorry but that is the reality. ‘Nuf said.

          • Not ONE person here has sighed and rolled their eyes because they don’t want to do great work. You just can’t accept the fact you miscommunicated an idea that was misunderstood by people in droves here. Instead you blame it on everyone else. It seems all you are saying then is you need to turn up to your job and do great work. Wow. Great advice. But my dad beat you to it when I got my first job at the age of 13 and I think you’ll find most are the same.

  16. Meh. I wait until the 30th of every month then produce 300 awesome images in a day. Leaves a lot of free time for reading and such.

    Seriously though, I’m a younger photog from a different generation. I know my photo history and have a great photo book collection from which to refer.
    I think that Brad is being NY centric. Avedon, Mapplethorpe, Von Unwerth, Rankin etc.. are HUGE commercial photogs and have to keep up that production schedule. Weston, on the other hand, produced MAYBE a shot a day. If he found the right pepper. Is he any less AWESOME? He was working in a small market where he would rarely get work as a commercial photog but focused more on fine art. Same with Brassai and a great number of old masters.
    10-20 AWESOME shots a day is great if you’ve got shoots for Harpers, Purple Magazine, Vogue, Homme, Wallpaper, Ogilvy and Nat Geo lined up in your work queue. But if you live in a smaller market or are the type of photog who spends most the day churning out pitches it’s just not going to happen. Is it something to strive for? Sure. Is it realistic? Nope.
    I think that Robb should sponsor a contest. Set up a flickr page. Each photog that posts has to post a minimum of 10 max of 20 in ONE day. All date stamped and put into individual folders with the photogs name. Open group.

    In the end, if i go to bed knowing that I made one image that day that will resonate with someone, I’ve done my job.

  17. Not much to comment on, as we don’t know what kind of photographic portfolios he’s referring to. A sports photographer will perhaps generate finished work faster than a still life photographer.
    Regardless, its pretty safe advice to tell a young photographer he/she needs to produce more. And probably not that helpful.

  18. How about something in between?

    I think the message, however construed is, maybe more of a metaphor for what it takes for a young person to be a photographer. And that means shooting every day, as much as possible every day. Will everything be amazing? No.

    I was going to mention Gladwell, but then I finally saw it mentioned. After 10,000 hours of shooting, should a student get so far, that student should be pretty good, no matter the realm of photography.

    As an aside, I am the son of a NYC photographer. Was lucky to help him run a incredible gallery. Was very lucky to walk the streets with him and Mr. Winogrand and many other amazing photographers (my right shoulder hurts right now thinking about schlepping his bag all those miles over the years). My dad shot tons every day and it will take me years as I continue editing his work. And think about it, those 10-20 images constitute only half a roll of film. Students can and should be shooting that much EVERY day (by the way, students, there used to be this thing called a roll of film…)

    I also happen to know Joe and he is a great photographer as well. I think the message is, practice makes perfect. The message may not have been perfectly written, but I think the sentiment is right on.

  19. I am a painter weighing in on this so what it is worth, I believe the fine art photographer has much the same criteria as a fine art painter.
    Maybe if you are a commercial photographer working for an art director you have to produce so many excellent photos per day. When it comes to fine art photography that’s another story. The possibilities of the creative process are infinite. Time becomes irrelevant when the daily deadline is not a factor, then the making of a work of art becomes purely about the making of a visual image that is in keeping with a personal direction. Then it is up to the happenings in the world of critical dialogue to decide if, when and where that work has a place in history.

  20. Dear Everyone,
    I’m actually quite surprised this debate is STILL happening. Yikes. If you read the comment history on this blog it’s pretty evident that everyone’s points of view have been thoroughly discussed, picked apart and generally beaten with a stick. That being said, let’s take sometime to point out some very interesting points that have been said and do remain truthful:

    1.) Feinknopf is an ARCHITECTURAL photographer. That being said, if you can’t make a building look great in roughly 5-10 shots than either A.) The building only lends itself so much to tell the story (which is the job of the architectural photographer) or B.) You need to rethink the type of work you enjoy photographing.

    2.) Not everyone is going to shoot 10 AMAZING/GREAT images for the project they are working on….it really is based upon the the work you are creating, who your client is, and the intent for the work.

    3.) Photo students do depend greatly on the work they produce over the course of 2-3 years. Is this wrong? Hell no….students are very busy trying to make it through college and only have so much time to shoot. Doesn’t mean they can’t be told that they need to KEEP working on their portfolio and to not just depend on those shots they have created during that time period. That will not only make them lazy photographers, but how can they possibly continue to learn, get a job or even improve their work if they just depend on that work?

    4.) We are not machines that can keep shooting day in a day out. So yes, are there days that photographers won’t be shooting? You betcha. But when we do shoot we should strive for great images. This isn’t that hard of a concept. I mean do you really feel good after a shoot if you’ve just produced absolutely nothing worth while? I definitely don’t. It doesn’t have to be 10-20 images…hell even one would be great.

    and 5.) I believe Ajay was correct….it is like a sports bar on this particular blog post. Its funny, but I’m sure all of you could have produced at least five great images while sitting here arguing about this. And they can even be pictures of a toilet (shown in it’s best light, looks damn good sitting there and is what the client (if there is one) wants).

    Instead of arguing about what one person believes is a good number of images to produce to make a good body of work…try focusing on your own body of work. Because in the long run, it’s really only about your own photography and how successful you are at your job at the end of the day.

    • yeah. you’re correct. there’s no more opinion on this. Everyone go out and shoot. Thanks for ending thread, finally! Can you go to other blogs and end discussion there too? that would be so helpful. In fact, after a few opinions on a topic, it should be shut down with one long comment. It would make the internet ever so more efficient!

      • Oh I wish it would have ended! But thank you for the recognition of me at least trying to take a stab at it. You are terribly correct in what you say….the internet would be much more efficient if there wasn’t all this extra (even though currently I am adding to it) jazz floating around.

  21. As far as I’m concerned you’re all douches. Kidding, I’ve really enjoyed the back and forth. I just wish this conversation was happening at my favorite watering hole. Cheers to all and to all the wonderful images you all daily create! :)

  22. Wow, a lot of you guys are being VERY harsh with the name calling. I know Brad personally and he’s one of the nicest most helpful men you ever want to meet.

    What Brad is speaking of gets to the heart of sustainability. You cannot have a long term professional career if your work is inconsistent AND if you are not out there shooting EVERYDAY. This is the only way you will be able to produce 12-20 amazing images daily. What it boils down to is simple…as a professional photographer/ball player/dentist etc. it is EXPECTED of you to give your absolute very best each and everyday. That’s why you get hired/signed/called etc.

    Brad’s point is right on point. How many times have any of you had a professor/employer ask you a question hoping that you would give the answer he wants? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

    • Personally, I think that anyone that calls out “douche” etc.. over a perfectly fine, non confrontational blog post should be banned. Civility starts at home kids :)

  23. Interesting comments here. I think some are thinking into Brads comments way to far and not getting the point.

    Brad has been very generous helping other photographers with his advice and experience. You won’t find many photographers who are secure enough in their own abilities to share info with future potential competition. Brad helps because it’s good for the profession to communicate, share resources and offer support. Insulting such a person is just immoral.

    Brad’s comment was about the basic requirements of being a professional photographer. Not hobbyist, not a student and not a casual practitioner. This is a really, really tough profession. It takes dedication, talent, inspiration and time to be successful. When I’m not working for clients, I’m taking photos fro my own personal project. I love what I do. Brad is giving straight forward insight into what to expect. If reading Brad’s comments makes you feel so touchy feely and makes you want to shoot the messenger then reexamine your career choice.

    Your clients won’t be nice about it. Your images are representing their business, their livelihood and values. If you can’t offer quality images each time your client hires you for a photo shoot, they will find someone else who can.

    I’ve been a professional photographer for 14yrs. I started my business before my senior year in college because I had a great mentor at the time who helped out. Today, I’m doing very well and only scratching the surface. I often contact great photographers like Brad and others I look up to. Please don’t cast a negative light on such people. You need them!

  24. Ha ha ha – pretty funny quote. Every working photographer who’s been in the biz more than 3 years knows this is meant to be provocative – nothing more.

  25. Question: Are these great images that have been compiled over a year their only great images? Because my portfolio doesn’t include all of my photos that I feel are good enough. It contains two or three great shots of each subject. Also, as my own worst critic, I may feel my work isn’t good enough when it actually is…

  26. I couldn’t read all the replies, too painful.
    But what Brad said hits the nail on the head. He never said that spending the past year creating images was wrong, we all show our best work that was taken over time. He just said to put on your seatbelt cause things are different in the real world if you aspire to be a working commercial photographer.
    Patrick Demarchelier has always said that he is as good as his last shoot, would you jump down his throat for that statement?
    All either mean is that you need to be producing excellent work everytime you are hired by a client otherwise you wont be hired again.
    This is one big bound pantie convention…

  27. I read the word douche one too many times so I skipped past many comments to add my 2 cents.

    I’ve been without a studio space for almost a year. I gave up the space I had mainly for cost cutting reasons even though I was paying modest rent for a nice sized office and studio space which I shared. I rationalized that since most of my work was on location, I did not need the space.

    What I find is I don’t have creative studio time. My gear is locked up in climate controlled storage awaiting the next call and in the meantime the only studio style images I take are for selling crap on Ebay. Using the iPhone!

    Getting to the point: without dedicated space, I have lost the opportunity to ‘play’ in the studio.

    Messing with lights, experimenting, creating. And now I contemplate is it worth spending rent money I don’t want to spend to have that back again? To invigorate creativity, pre-visualizing and seeing light, in studio. Perhaps even generating more business because I’m keeping the passion to work, alive.

    Brad’s blog post brings to light that a photographer cannot let go of that passion for creating. It is a requirement. 10-20 images per day is up for debate but do not lose the spirit of what he is saying if you disagree.

  28. As someone who is just starting out in the industry this quote really struck a cord. I have no illusions that it will ever be an easy career. I don’t want to be a photographer, I HAVE to be a photographer. Any doubts about my skill, my ability to own and run my own business, I’ve had to sweep under the rug to allow myself to take the first step. You could call it an active exercise in cognitive dissonance.

    The reaction’s here are a bit ridiculous, it’s either some of you have poor reading comprehension and completely missed the point, or are getting caught up on the word “AMAZING.” Who care’s if they’re not “amazing” images from the get go? As long as you’re out there shooting, they’ll gradually become better. If you’re not constantly honing your craft you will become dull.

    10 to 20 images a day is perfectly doable in the age of digital camera’s. I’m not an architectural photographer (strictly speaking) but I try to bring a camera everywhere I go (or at least I should). Out going to the shops? Bring a camera. Walking the dog? Bring a camera. Drinks with friends? Bring a camera.

    With the proliferation of new technologies anybody with a decent camera set on the automatic mode can make a “perfect” image from a technical standpoint. So you better be pretty damn creative or else no one will care (and more importantly; pay you).

    At the end of the day only thing that really matters is results. I have to be better, because there’s no other choice.


  29. Sorry, but I am laughing at this whole thread. When I read the original post, all it did to me was knock me in the head and made me realize I need to get out and shoot more (which I believe was the point of the blog). 97 posts later, people are still arguing semantics?

    I will also attest to Brad’s un-douche-like qualities: if I email him with a question regarding lighting, pricing, etc, I get a phone call back, usually within minutes. He is an open book and will help a fellow photographer out at the drop of a hat (thank you Brad!).

    As for the people ripping on his images of empty rooms, he’s an ARCHITECTURAL PHOTOGRAPHER, that’s what he shoots! Yes, people actually PAY him to do that. Go figure.

    Thank you for the chuckle, I’m heading off to take 5, maybe even 10, if I’m lucky 20, incredible shots today.

  30. It doesn’t matter how long it takes one to get where they’re going, the true measure is where they end up. That said, I do believe that most of us need to practice our craft until our fingers bleed to become masters. If the students portfolio is full of amazing images it really doesn’t matter how many pictures he/she had to sift through to edit down his portfolio. Sounds like someone needs to focus on making more images themselves.