In an exchange of emails from a woman who came across some of my photos on a website, she asked: “Do you know how many photos you have taken over the years?”
“I have no idea,” I replied. “Hundreds of thousands, probably. Possibly more than a million.”
My first published photo in a newspaper was shot on a Yashica Mat twin-reflex 120mm film camera in 1958, when I was 10 years old. I shot 12 images (the total number of frames on a roll of Kodak Tri-X film for that camera) and one was, I thought, right for the shot.
In 1964, I bought my first 33mm single lens reflex camera, a Nikon F. It used 35mm and a roll of Tri-X had a choice of either 24 or 36 exposures. I bought the 36-exposure rolls and would shoot, for example, three to four rolls photographing a sporting event. From a total 144 images from four rolls, I could find about 10 for newspaper publication.
By the end of the 60s, I carried two Nikons, usually one with a 28mm wide angle lens and the other with a 200mm medium telephoto and my image total at the end of a game or event could be 288 or even sometimes over 500 images.
I had learned that shooting more images gave me a better chance of getting the right shot at the precise time.
Now, 50 years and more later, I still shoot with two single-reflex cameras, a Canon EOS-1 DX and a EOS 5D, MKIII. For most assignments, one has a 24-70 zoom and the other a 70-200 mm. Both are digital with two “flash” memory cards that store thousands of images in each.
At a football or volleyball game, I is not unusual to shoot more than 2000 images. Both cameras have motor drives with the 1DX capturing action at 12 frames a second, so the images can and do pile up when shooting good games.
In the first two volleyball matches photographed so far this year, I shot more than 4,000 images. I will shoot another 2,500 or more at a football game this Friday.
Why shoot so many? Because the cameras can deliver them and it is always better to shoot more images and too few. For example, capturing a runner sprinting through the line at a football game, evading tacklers, can result in hundreds of images and one of them can have just the right nanosecond of action and framing that makes the shot memorable.
Digital now allows us to shot more photos without changing film. It also allows changing ISO settings on the fly and capturing different resolutions on one of the two cards in the camera body. I normally shoot with 512 GB flash cards in each of the cameras.