How many photographs should I be taking?

There are no hard and fast rules. It depends upon your subject and your intent.

If you have a specific subject, perhaps a landscape from a particular view and you are going with the intent of capturing a specific image, then you only need as many to get that photograph right. However it is always worth taking a range of images to allow for unexpected things in the edit.

If you are venturing out with no particular shot in mind, you could shoot a hundred plus images very easily. Try taking images in different aspects, from different viewpoints, wide and close-up shots, make the most of your subject while you have the chance. As you progress with your photography and you have a better idea of how everything works and looks as a final image, the number of images you create will reduce.

Another approach is to slow the process down, find a subject and focus on taking images until you get the image exactly right. You could limit or restrict yourself, perhaps limit the number of shots you take or only use a specific lens or focal length. This is excellent way to improve your observation and to move around and consider your subject more. The ‘Nifty Fifty’ or 50mm prime lens (or 35mm for crop sensor cameras) is a great lens to instil some discipline when taking photographs. A relatively cheap lens available for most cameras, you need to move towards and away from your subject to get the image you want, far more than when you are using a zoom lens.

A more important thing to consider rather than how many shots you should take, is are you getting the shots that you want. It costs nothing to shoot with digital, so while learning take all of the photographs you need to take.

Contact sheet of images to show the variation in photographs taken during a photoshoot on location
The image above shows 84 images shot over approx. 30 minutes. The variations in the images are experiments with depth of field, to capture different movement in the water or to adjust position, focal length or distance from the subject.