Why You Should Consider Keeping Your Outtakes


I recently posted an engagement photo in a Facebook group and immediately got a comment on it. The comment said: "Awful expression on her face... would not keep this picture." Although I have pretty thick skin when it comes to snide comments and CC on my images, this comment really got under my skin. 

The photo (which is pictured above) is clearly a fun, goofy photo. It shows what kind of couple they are and how they naturally are with one another. It's honestly one of my favorites from their set. Honestly, I probably wouldn't have posted it if she hadn't already put it on social media and clearly was ok with it being shared. 

The whole conversation made me think about why I actually deliver a lot of the outtakes to my clients. The photos you shouldn't keep are usually the ones with the most character. Who wouldn't want silly photos of themselves? It makes me question this industry and our obsession with only the "epic" shots. You're not always going to have a mountain or a cliff to put people on, and even though I really love those images, it's not always attainable or real. 

As a community, we need to stop taking everything so seriously and realize that the silly photos are actually the ones we should probably be keeping. So, here are are three reasons why you shouldn't toss all of your outtakes. 

Out takes

Clients Love Them

I have literally never had a couple angry at me for delivering the crazy-faced, silly photos. It normally provides them with a really good laugh, and it allows them to remember the session and our time together as happy and fun. It makes them forget if they were awkward or stiff. 

It Shows Real Personality

Your clients don't always have a stern look or a huge fake smile plastered on their face. It's hard to convey someone's real personality through staged photos. Having your clients goof off or jump around and be silly is a great way to let that shine through. You want them to be able to see themselves in their images and not just deliver a bunch of photos in which they don't recognize the people in them.  

It's a Real Moment

I don't think this needs much explaining. Real moments will normally trump staged ones. 


The main thing I want you to take away from this is to not automatically discard the less than desirable faces. Take into account whether your clients would get a good laugh or would love to have them first. Who cares if you give them something that's not portfolio worthy? They'll love it and will hopefully give you referrals and tell their friends how much fun they had. Making our clients happy should come first, and if that means stepping outside of the "epic" shot box, then we should do it. 

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I think along with the great advice in this article, cc from Facebook groups should generally be completely disregarded. People on there don't view or cc a photo as a client or non photographer, they download your pictures, zoom into 100% and scrutinise every pixel and detail, and usually if you check out their work it's all crap anyway! lol

Brandi Potter's picture

I've noticed that most of the CC is very snide and catty. Unless you're in a great community of photographers I would be wary to listen to any of it!

Umar Junaid's picture

I generally wouldn't worry about any comments on Facebook. Does your client like those pictures? That's pretty much all that matters.

I specialize in outtakes because I'm a lazy perfectionist.

Brandi Potter's picture

Being a lazy perfectionist is the best.

stir photos's picture

As an amateur, I'm still very interested and like the "epic" shots, but I like this article because on my first wedding alone, I was hesitant to include the not so great and sometimes goofy expressions on some faces. I just did it, and all was good. I'll be sure to keep the insightful conclusion in mind as I keep on keepin' on.

Here's a funny expression I had....

Brandi Potter's picture

Like I said I LOVE epic shots, I do. Clients love them as well for the most part, but they aren't always attainable. I love this photo too! I think it shows the moment perfectly.

Brian Reed's picture

I agree 100% with the article. My favorite part was, "Having your clients goof off or jump around and be silly is a great way to let that shine through." YES!!! That is so important, the personality. I had one client cry because her boyfriend NEVER smiles. He got on set with me and about one minute into the shoot he was grinning like the Cheshire Cat. He had the most beautiful smile. When she saw the images on the back of the camera ... she cried. So ... I fully agree. Get your clients to having FUN and you will get images that are far better than anyone could imagine. :-)

Brandi Potter's picture

Yes! Having fun and being comfortable is the most important part about sessions!

Ty Poland's picture

I really like this article, photography has to be fun too and I feel like a lot of people would really laugh at these photos which would normally be discarded by us. I'll be keeping this in mind!

Great article, Brandi! Whoever wrote that dumb comment on your Facebook page is simply not a creative at heart. Well, duh, yeah there's an awful expression on the woman's face ... hello! That's the point!

I took this set a few days ago and love how natural this shot is, and much more telling about their relationship than the staged boring ones.

No, the goofy ones aren't going to end up in frames or albums but they are much more fun and worth treasuring. Anyone can look pretty and smile - the formula can be repeated ad infinitum. But the little moments, that funny face or mischievous look or when a belly laugh breaks out, can never be recreated.

Brandi Potter's picture

I've had some clients print out their "out takes"! It just goes to show that every photo is important, not just the one's that can please other photographers or ourselves!

I definitely agree that every photo tells a different side of the story and can help the client to see themselves differently to how they ever have before. Even when they're trying not to, people tend to either put on the photo persona or clamp up in front of the camera. And you know what, you show them the images and they've seen that face a million times before. Show a side of themselves that NOBODY else has captured, well that's gold.

Richard Neal's picture

Totally agree, unless you have a couple that hate each other then they love the goofy ones, most of the time they end up putting them on facebook.
Also agree with most of the comments about facebook groups, most of them are full of bored trolls who like nothing better than to pull people apart to make themselves feel better :)

Matt McGarr's picture

I think one of the best skills to learn as a photographer is learning when to listen to critique and when to ignore it! I actually feel a bit sorry for someone who would look at that first photo and react like that.

Keep up the good work.

The expression on the second is so genuine (with a perfect technic), it would be a great lost not to keep that one.