What is your keeper rate?

Article Dedication

in honor of

Jeanloup Sieff & Cecil Beaton


That is a perennial question the photo forums. It varies too much for me to say. We all have different values, likes and dislikes to say anything definitive on this subject.

I aspire to put photos in museums, artist’s books or my portfolio. As such, I trash a lot of junk that is not going to be museum, book or portfolio worthy. In the old film days sometimes I would go for weeks or months and not produce a keeper. Digital makes it easier.

At a New Year’s Eve party I shot about 200+ pix…I only got one great shot for my infrared flash project Piercing Darkness.

Infrared Flash Photo

For A Day in the Life of a Drag Queen project I shot enough in 4-1/2 hours to make a small book of say 35 to 40 pix.


The 4-1/2 hours also included travel time to multiple locations. Being a doc photog I work very, very fast.

DQ 2015 Daniel D. Teoli Jr. mr

For the drag queen project I was lucky the transgal could pose, as I am not glam photog. My expertise is in street and doc photography. I had a time limit but still had to make the book, so I tried to get enough decent pix for the book within the time offered. But not the pix are all masterpieces. Maybe will have a 5% to 7% keeper rate for that shoot.

For my ‘Gay Bar’ project I shot enough in 45 minutes to make a small artist’s book. But they are not all masterpieces. With it, they just have to be decent pix, as the bars kept throwing me out.

Transwoman &amp; Friend 2015 Daniel D. Teoli Jr. hr

Infrared Flash Photo

I was shooting in Times Square and got 1 keeper that night…Sad Buskers. (no one wanted to hire them for a photo of their bare boobies)


Infrared Flash Photo

I could go back to Times Square for a week and not get anything great.

I was shooting almost an entire weekend. I only got one great shot…The Lost Princess

Lost Princess Copyright 2013 Daniel D. Teoli Jr. mr

I was shooting on the Staten Island Ferry. Took 2 trips and only got one great shot…


As the old saying goes…if I knew how to take great photos I’d do it every time. I find if I put in the footwork hopefully things will happen for me. For Piercing Darkness infrared flash photography, I may shoot multiple sessions and get nothing.

Piercing Darkness Infrared Flash 2015 Daniel D. Teoli Jr. mr - C

Infrared Flash Photo

When I was acquiring photographs for my archival collection of found photography,  I would sometimes look through 40,000 to 50,000 snapshots in a month. These were no ordinary snapshots either. They were distinguished as noteworthy from dealers that had hand picked through the garbage to find them. Out of these tens of thousands snapshots I may have found 200 to 300 I liked enough to acquire.

The Flappers -Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection (9)m

When Robert Frank shot Pull My Daisy, I read they shot 30 hours of footage. Out of the 30 hours (1800 minutes) they kept about 20 minutes for the film. That is a keeper rate of 1.1%. Now, they did all staged, bullshit shots with full cooperation. For my on- the-fly work, with no cooperation for the most part. I’d be happy if I was guaranteed a 1% keeper rate.

The bottom line is street photography is like fishing, you can throw you hook in the water, but there are no guarantees you will get anything.

De Wallen Graffiti 2014 Daniel D. Teoli Jr.