Why do wedding photos take so long to get back? This is a great question! To tell you the truth, they don’t always take a long time, but if you are hiring an AWESOME photographer, it definitely might take them a decent amount of time. Every photographer will quote a different timeframe. For us, we quote 4-6 weeks, but typically deliver your photos to you in two weeks or less. Yeah! Two weeks or less! How do we do it? Simple. We have a very well oiled machine and workflows that we’ve developed with experience to ensure we can be efficient at what we do, but also deliver our highest quality.
Let’s break it down a little. ( Note: Again, every photographer is different. We all have different processes, so don’t assume that every photographer will have the same turn around time, or that there is even a “standard” turnaround time). With that said, I will say that if you shouldn’t be waiting months or more to see your wedding photos, albums, and other products.
STEP 1 UPLOAD. BACKUP. REPEAT.
I upload all of my memory cards to our on-site backup, yes, we back up our photos at the actual wedding. We don’t like to take chances. From there we upload all those photos to our main office computer the minute we get back from any job. It’s the very first thing we do when I walk through the door. This can be a very time-consuming process especially for weddings with LOTS of photos. Then, all of the RAW files are backed up for safe keeping to 6 external hard drives. YES! 6 external hard drives. Two of those drives are rotated out with other drives that are kept off-site in another location.
For destination weddings, we upload them to our laptop and back them up on 2 external hard drives at the end of each day. One drive is shipped back home and the other stays with us at all times in case my stuff is stolen, lost, or the plane goes down, we still have a safe backup version.
STEP 2 THE SNEAK PEEK
A few favorite photos that jump out are processed and posted on our Facebook page as a sneak peek of what’s to come, normally the day of the wedding or the next.
STEP 3 LOTS OF PHOTOS ARE REVIEWED, LOTS OF COFFEE IS DRANK, & ONLY THE BEST OF THE BEST ARE KEPT.
The reason for this is simple, it makes your life easier. We take a lot of photos to make sure I have a great selection to choose from as well as duplicates to make sure the moments are captured. We go through each photo, one by one, and choose which ones make the cut and which ones don’t. Not only for my photos, but also for our second photographer’s photos as well. It could be hundreds to thousands of photos to go through! This is one of the most tedious processes and can take hours and hours. There is no glory in this, but it has to be done.
STEP 4 THE BEST OF THE BEST HAVE ARRIVED!
Now that I have it narrowed down to the best photos, the actual processing of the images begins. Each one starts off with basic color correction. Then each image is touched up and fine tuned individually the way it needs to be. Especially true for weddings where the lighting can change drastically and fast, each photo may require different things. After that, they are processed with “signature look” to create the final. Aside from our particular style of shooting, the post-processing is another factor that determines the look of the finished product and makes each photographer different. This is also a very extensive and the most time-consuming part of the process.
STEP 5 PICK. WRITE. BLOG.
A blog post is typically created so we are able to share a bigger glimpse of your story and you are able to share a little AWESOME with your family and friends. I like to make each blog post as personal and special as each one of my couples is, so sometimes choosing just the right photo or writing the right thing can take some time. So, share your blog post with everyone! Email it, Facebook it, Tweet it, and everything else. It’s a great way to share an important day in your life, especially for the people that couldn’t be there.
STEP 6 BACKUP, PLAN AHEAD, & ARCHIVE!
What!? More backing up? Yep. Once everything is finalized I backup all of your finished images to 6 separate external hard drives, two of those drives are swapped out with two others that are off-site drives after each job, and finally, we upload them to an online cloud service so they are stored off-site on a server located in another state. There is always at least one drive that’s stays in a fire proof safe in our office, another drive is kept off-site at another location locally for safe keeping.
At the end of the year, two hard drives are kept with all of my finished photographs I’ve shot for that year. One hard drive stays in our office in fireproof storage, the other off-site in storage, as well as, our cloud storage. Forever. Then two new hard drives take their place and the process repeats. That goes for all of my weddings, portraits, editorial, and even personal work.
CRAZY right!? No, not really. At least not to me. Your images are that important to us and I know they are to you! If your photographer doesn’t have a great backup process, not just for weddings but for portraits or anything else too, you might want to consider someone else.
What happens if lightning strikes and kills their computer along with all of your photos since that was the only copy? What about a fire, tornado, or other natural disasters? Maybe someone steals their equipment? Or, what if 6 months from now or even 2 years, you decide you want to have an album made, or lost all of your photos? Exactly!
Step 7) UPLOAD, VIEW, LOVE!
Finally, all of the finished images are uploaded to our website and a personal, password protected gallery is made just for you, your family, and friends to view and enjoy. Meanwhile, finalized versions of your products like albums and wall art, are created, packaged, and delivered to you.
There you have it! It takes an average of 120ish hours or more just to get to this point and that’s only one wedding! Sometimes longer, sometimes shorter. Every wedding is different. Also, every photographer works differently, but they should ALL give you a general timeframe. Don’t be shocked if they tell you 6-8 weeks or more. You’ve already seen the basic break down and how long that takes by itself. We strive and are successful at delivering photos within two weeks turnaround, but always quote 6-8 to be safe. ;) Yeah! I work really HARD and LONG hours.
There are other factors you also have to consider as well. One is that if you are hiring an awesome photographer, then a lot of other people probably are too! After all, we can’t make a living off just one client. There are other photography sessions to shoot, traveling, client meetings, emails, phone calls, guest books, albums, wall art, and other product designs, proofing, placing orders, practice shoots, continuing education, bookkeeping, and all of the other business things we have to do because we own a business. It’s a delicate balance trying to be an artist and a business person at the same time.
So, while it might take some time for your photographer to get your wedding photos back to you, please be patient. It will be well worth the wait! I personally want to make sure all wedding photos, product, and packaging is perfect and upholds to my highest standards. You paid good money for great wedding photography, customer service, and an AWESOME experience. At the same time, I typically quote 6-8 weeks, but always like to deliver full wedding photo galleries within 2 weeks!
If you like these tips you can find other wedding planning tips on my blog at Tips For Clients. If you have a topic you would like to see covered, please let me know! :D
Contact me now to check availability, ask questions, and to talk about your unique wedding experience! Use the form below or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
My name is Matt Druin and I’m an Atlanta wedding photographer that specializes in unique, offbeat weddings for all awesome people! Not only do I shoot amazing Atlanta weddings, but I also travel frequently for destination weddings, and weddings all over, with no travel fees in the US for amazing wedding photography. I also shoot Atlanta engagement sessions for newly engaged couples. I’ve even been known to travel, and far, for engagement sessions too!
Contact Atlanta Wedding Photographer Matthew Druin
Address 225 Parkway 575 #66 Woodstock, Georgia 30188