The keeper ratio - only keep your best shots

Whether your travelling or going down to the park for a quick photo session, it is really easy to fill your memory card with hundreds of photos. Whilst we all like to think that we’re ace photographers and every shot we take is superb, the reality is other wise. 

The keeper ratio

Introducing the “keeper ratio” i.e. that amount of good photos worth keeping compared to the ones that should go in the bin.

Always strive to take  better photos, don’t keep the bad ones as they’re just going to hold you back.Be ruthless and cull all those that are not worthy to be kept. Keep and show only your absolute best and strive to do better the next time you go out photographing. By showing only your best photos, it will also give the appearance to those viewing them that you are great photographer. Everyone takes dud photos, but not everybody needs to know about those.

Questions to ask yourself

Before throwing out the non-keepers though, quickly examine why it isn’ t a good photo. Things to ask yourself:

  • How could the composition be better? – Framing, subject position, camera angle, background details.
  • How could the lighting be improved  – Light source direction, too sunny, too dark, wrong time of day?
  • Should I have used different camera settings – F-stop, focal length, ISO, lens

What’s a good ratio?

The keeper ratio depends on the situation. For landscapes, I spend time composing a scene before I take the photo, in essence I’m already throwing out bad shots before I take them. In this scenario my keeper ratio would be roughly 20% – 40%.

For insect/bug macro photos, my keeper ration is usually pretty low due to technical constraints. For example, the slightest amount of wind or subject movement can ruin a photo so I take plenty of photos to cover my but. I might only keep 10-20% of photos in this situation.

If your keeper ratio is high, say greater than 75%, it means that you’re either an exceptionally good photographer in which case you don’t need to be reading this, or you’re not being harsh enough with your photo culling. Generally a keeper ratio around 10-40% seems to be about the norm.


The beauty of digital photography is that you can take as many photos as you like and it won’t cost you a single cent more.  The important thing to remember is that you need to be your harshest critic – think carefully before taking a photo and keep only the best.