Your Photos Aren’t Ready

I had a conversation with the mother of a groom who told me that they had not received the final images from her son’s wedding. This wedding had happened more than a-month-and-a-half prior to our talk. Did you hear me? More than 45 days had passed since the wedding, and the couple still had not received their final images. In addition, this mother was told that it would be a full 90 days until the images would be delivered. That’s three months! That’s one-quarter of a year! That’s unbelievable!

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Have you ever wondered why on Earth some wedding photographers take so long to deliver the images to their clients? I put together a list of all the reasons I have heard over the years. I also put them in the same order of occurrence that I believe they happen in the real world.

19 Reasons Why Your Photos Aren’t Ready

  1. To put it plain and simple, your photographer is a procrastinator.
  2. Your photographer is not a full-time photographer and also works another full-time job. They don’t have enough time.
  3. Your photographer didn’t charge enough money and now feels resentment for working all these hours.
  4. Your photographer is really inexpensive, or rather really cheap, and has to book multiple weddings per weekend to run their business. They don’t have enough time to edit all these weddings. They may have to wait until the busy wedding season is over (after October) to find any time to do any post-production.
  5. Your photographer is too cheap to outsource this task to speed up their workflow.
  6. Your photographer doesn’t charge enough for their work and can’t afford to outsource this task to speed up their workflow.
  7. Your photographer doesn’t believe that good customer service skills are vital for a good customer experience.
  8. Your photographer is lazy.
  9. If you heard your photographer say, “Oh, I’ll photoshop that,” a lot on your wedding day… well, that’s probably what they’re doing. Not taking their time to make great captures in-camera is costing them a lot of time in the post-production stage.
  10. Your photographer is trying to create the illusion that it takes a long time to complete the images and therefore should be as expensive as he or she is charging you.
  11. Your photographer lacks adequate software to make global adjustments and batch exports.
  12. Your photographer doesn’t have a good understanding how to utilize their software.
  13. Your photographer doesn’t have adequate knowledge about post-processing.
  14. Your photographer is not excited about your images. They are mustering up the creative energy to work on them.
  15. Your photographer may have a misunderstanding with their second shooter and the second shooter may be unwilling to release the images. This happens frequently when there is no written agreement between those two parties.
  16. The photographer is looking to pay you back for something. Maybe they thought you were a bridezilla.
  17. Your photographer may be frantically trying to recover images from a corrupt memory card. (#17 and #18 stem from the inability to back up your images on site and not utilizing a camera body with dual card slots.)
  18. Second Worst Case: The photographer may have lost some (or all) of your images and they are scared to tell you. (I actually second shot a wedding where the main photographer lost a bunch of 4GB cards.** She eventually found them, but spent weeks making up excuses about delays in image processing and telling them to her clients.)
  19. Worst Case: (I actually hear of this more often than I should.) You’ve been scammed and your photographer ran off with your images.

The Truth About Your Wedding Day Images

I’m going to deliver the truth here. It doesn’t take all that long to post-process your wedding day images. If a photographer has the appropriate software, is reasonably skilled (both in capturing and processing) and is self-disciplined, they should be able to turn out wedding images within 30 days. Period. Most wedding images just do not require the same level of editing that a portrait session does. Well, I say that, but that also depends on how the images were shot and whether or not they will ultimately be printed and on what medium and how large. Some of the images from your wedding day may need more attention and much more detailed retouching, but most of the images do not.

Generally speaking, wedding images need to be culled (the bad ones thrown out), color corrected, straightened and maybe slightly re-cropped. I usually always also make minor adjustments to shadows, highlights, contrast, vibrancy, saturation, levels and sharpening, but the software I use allows me to make these adjustments quickly and efficiently. Usually, I can cull and edit 1,600 images (my average for eight hours of coverage with a second shooter) somewhere in ten to 16 hours. I prefer to do this in a straight stretch, or over the course of two consecutive days, so that my editing stays consistent. Depending on my schedule after I shoot a wedding, it might take me a few days to block off a solid day to work on one project.

Again, images that do make it to your wedding album or will become wall art will require more detailed post-processing and a higher level of editing.

Out of curiosity, I reviewed the very first wedding I was paid to shoot. (Thank you, Amanda and Andrew!) That was in 2011. It took me 37 days to deliver the images. Gosh, even then and without the proper software—#11 applied to me—I could still beat a 90-day turnaround.

My Average Wedding Day Image Delivery

I went back to look at the last couple of weddings I’ve shot that I was the primary shooter and researched how long it took me to deliver the final images to the client. Here are the results:

  • Wedding on June 18, delivered 12 days later 
  • Wedding on August 3, delivered 8 days later
  • Wedding on October 3, delivered 12 days later
  • Wedding on October 8, delivered 10 days later
  • Wedding on October 15, delivered 15 days later
  • Wedding on October 17, delivered 19 days later
  • Wedding on October 22, delivered 19 days later

My Guarantee for Delivery of Your Wedding Day Images

To recap, I currently guarantee, in writing, that my clients will receive their processed wedding images within ten days! And for the record, all of my wedding albums have been delivered within four months of the wedding… and they’re coming from Italy!! 🙂 If your wedding photographer isn’t going to deliver customer service along these lines, keep shopping.

**Some photographers have the theory that they should shoot your wedding on a bunch of smaller-sized memory cards… like 4GB. However, this causes them to constantly change cards because they fill up so quickly, especially if they are shooting in a RAW format like they should be. They may even have to change cards in the middle of your wedding ceremony and miss precious shots. The theory is that if they lose a card or if a card becomes corrupt, they only lose a small number of images as opposed to all of the images.

I live in the camp that I shoot on either 32GB or 64GB memory cards. I can shoot your eight-hour wedding coverage and never have to change my memory card. I can shoot in a RAW format all day long. I don’t have to fumble around changing cards all day, risk missing key parts of your special day, keep track of multiple memory cards, and determine which ones have your images on them and which ones are still blank. And, I can do all this without even the slightest worry of corruption or loss.

What if my card does become corrupt? My camera bodies have two separate memory card slots. When I take a picture, the image is simultaneously written to both cards so an instant backup is made on site. If one card does become corrupt, I already have an exact copy. I shoot RAW to both cards (something else that a lot of photographers choose not to do.)

I have absolutely no worries that I’m going to lose your images due to a corrupt memory card, by accidentally overwriting your images or losing or misplacing a memory card on your wedding day.

The post, 19 Reasons Why Your Photos Aren’t Ready, first appeared on Ata-Girl Photography Co.’s website and blog. Please feel free to comment here, or share this post with your friends via Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. Please email me if you have any questions about this article or want to share a neat idea for a future blog post with me.