I’m so excited to start a new feature, “Ask the vendor.” Today, Josh Barry of Maryland Photo Video is answering a pressing photography question.
Q: How long does it take to receive photographs from a professional photographer? My daughter’s Bat Mitzvah was a month ago, but the photographer has only sent me 5 photos with his logo on them. Why is this taking so darn long?!?! I want to see all my photos!!!!
A: I empathize with your excitement and desire to see your images as soon as possible. As your photographer, I am just as excited to share my work with you as you are to see them. Most photographers do this for a living because we love photos just as much as you do.
The industry has evolved so much since the dawn of digital photography. It was not long ago that most photographers had an 8-12 week turnaround time when digital photography was still new to the world and the events industry. Over the past years, these turnaround times have improved due to advances in processing abilities, technologies, etc with digital photography and editing.
So many factors can influence turnaround times (and this is not an exhaustive list): how many events your photographer has before your event that is in their queue, whether or not they themselves edit their images (slower) or pay an outside individual to edit them (faster), how busy they are as a company (those that aren’t very busy can usually turn things around faster than busier companies), and even what file format the photographer used to shoot in JPG vs RAW. I can tell you for sure that most photographers who are worth their salt shoot what is called a RAW file which is essentially the equivalent of an undeveloped roll of film.
Once your photographer has edited the event prior to yours here is what we do: First, we must load all of your images into our processing software. Then we go through each and every image and cull out the bad ones. We delete the duplicates, the blinks, the misfires, the disinteresting, and unusable images so that each and every image you receive reflects the vision of our quality of work as well as framing the essence, mood, and spirit of your party and portraits properly. After we do that, we then go through all of the ‘keepers’ and make adjustments to each and every image we plan to deliver to you. We go through anywhere from 800-1200 images on average and tweak or ‘develop’ each RAW file by adjusting exposure, contrast, white balance, shadows, highlights, color toning, choosing black and whites, creative edits, etc. When I start on an event to cull, edit, upload, etc., it takes a large portion of an entire workweek. The backend for processing 6-8 hours of photography is usually triple the total photography time at a minimum.
With regards to your watermarked images (the ones with the logos), we do as a courtesy to our clients, so they have a great photo to post to social media. We call these sneak peeks. These are created quickly and shortly after your event to whet your whistle and satisfy your curiosity and excitement while we go back to our queue and work on your full event edit.
An average turnaround time for digital photography is 4-6 weeks. In busier times where we have 6-8 events in one month, it can stretch to even longer. I’d be concerned if your photographer got all of your photos to you right away. S/he would be doing absolutely no processing and just taking them right off of her/his card to get to you right away. This is something that I’ve never seen good photographers do because the processing is so important to create a final product that you will love. There is a big difference between an unprocessed image vs a processed image.
I’d recommend first, double checking your contract to see if the photo delivery timeframe is included. If not, wait until week 6 and check in with them. My guess is he or she is just as excited to finish them as you are to see them.
Josh Barry has been an event/wedding/mitzvah photographer for about 19 years and is the owner of Maryland Photo Video – Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania Wedding, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, and Event Photographer.