Among fellow photographer friends, most of us have got the question at some point:
“I love the photos from my wedding! Can I get all of the images that you shot? You don’t need to edit them or anything.”
The short answer is no. I have got this question a few times lately however, so I want to explain what’s going on here.
You have all the good images, really!
The industry standard among professional wedding photographers is that RAW files and unedited jpegs are not available for purchase. It’s detailed in the contract you’ll sign but reading the fine print is a chore few of us engage in.
That’s why when you sign with me, I’ll provide you with a summarized version of the main points to draw your attention to on my contract. However, that doesn’t replace the need to understand each clause of the contract and ask your questions beforehand.
What comes home with me… are the raw ingredients.
The gallery in its final form represents every image that is worthy of inclusion. They are the images which aren’t out of focus, blurry, under/overexposed, a near duplicate, badly composed, with blinking/ bad expressions etc.
Each image represents my brand. I am proud to stand behind that, given that there is so much more to creating images than clicking the shutter. In fact, what comes home with me at the end of the wedding day are just the raw ingredients.
What happens when I select images
When I cull through the photos, which takes several hours together with years of experience, there is a quality control process that happens. This ensures that you receive every image that is a worthy representation of both my work and the moments of your wedding day.
Much like the leftover ingredients used to prepare your wedding cake, the images that are not selected for inclusion are a byproduct of creating the product for which I am commissioned.
They are not suitable to represent the standard you set for your wedding or the measure of the quality that I seek to provide as your photographer. I haven’t left out any gems or halfway-decent images by mistake.
At the end of the day, you need professional-quality images, and my assignment is to provide them.
We take dozens or hundreds of images of every aspect of your wedding. We give you those that are good enough to tell the story of your day, keeping in mind variety, pace and flow of the finished gallery.
It’s just like writing a book, where all the elements come together – the overarching plot, the fine details, setting the scene, introducing the characters and continuing the narrative, all the while building pace and momentum, then wrapping up the tale in a satisfying way.
The agreed-upon expectations
There will be an agreed set of expectations where the final number of images are concerned. This takes into account what I have to charge in order to remain in business and the corresponding editing time.
That said, I never restrict the image count. I simply deliver what I need to in order to tell the complete story. That’s why it’s so important you trust your photographer. I write this in the very first email you’ll receive from me.
It’s my job to be open and upfront.
It’s my job to be open and upfront. I do everything I can to inform, educate and manage expectations.
We are in the business of protecting our brand, assets and livelihood without compromising our integrity. We are also in the business of keeping our clients happy.
Like many aspects of being a business owner, it’s a fine balance.
I’m a San Francisco-based wedding photographer specializing in City Hall weddings. Zoe creates images that evoke a range of emotions, combining documentary photography with a stylized edge. My work has been published on A Practical Wedding, Offbeat Bride, Rock n’ Roll Bride, Equally Wed and Catalyst Wed Co among others.