How long is it reasonable to wait for wedding photos?

Your wedding day is over, you have been on your honeymoon, and your dress is already stored away in the loft for safekeeping; the one thing left is those wedding photos that you are excited to get back to relive your day and see moments you missed. But where are those photos?! If you need advice on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography.

They say patience is a virtue—but it’s just so darn hard to be patient when you’re waiting for something as exciting as wedding photos. But the good news is, the reason it takes time to get your snaps back is that your wedding photographer is busy making all of them—often thousands of them—look perfect. To avoid going crazy with anticipation, here’s everything you need to know to manage your expectations when it comes to receiving your wedding photos.

How Long Does It Take To Get Wedding Photos Back From Photographers?

Your photographer should be able to advise when you are likely to get your photos. They should also inform you before you book them; experienced photographers will know based on past experiences and the time f year your wedding is. If it is peak season, they will also be capturing lots of weddings meaning they are away from the computer for the day.

What’s the Typical Turnaround Time?

You could be waiting for your photos anywhere from 3 to 12 weeks after your wedding date; The big misconception is that once the wedding day’s done, that was the big chunk of work for the photographer and that everything else is just easy. In reality, your photographer is just getting started.

Average Wait Time For Wedding Photos

The time it takes to get your wedding photos will vary depending on the photographer, their schedule and also how many images were taken on the day, if they were there all day from the moment you got ready through to that first dance at 8 pm, then they will have a lot of photos to edit and go through.

Typically it can average anywhere between 2-6 weeks. Of course, photographers will try and get your photos to you as soon as possible; many will send some sneak peek photos of a selection that have been edited for you to view. However, it can take some time for the whole album, but it is essential that what they are doing does take time, and it is usually worth the wait.

Why Do Wedding Photos Take So Long To Get Back?

Of course, the excitement of seeing your beautiful wedding photos makes us impatient and question what the hell we are waiting for. We have an in-depth article and wedding photography infographic that shows what a photographer does here; the fact is wedding photographers spend more time editing photos than they do capture them!

In summary, what you are waiting for is your photographer to go 100’s or maybe over a thousand photos binning those test shots, those awful shots; those shots where people have their eyes closed. Then there is the editing, cropping pictures, adjusting the colour balance and creating that finished style you hired them for. There is a lot more work to be done once the photos are captured. At Wild Romantic Photography, we have the best Melbourne wedding photographer to take memorable photos on your wedding day.

What’s the Holdup?

How long is it reasonable to wait for wedding photos?

How long you wait will depend on your specific pro and a few other factors, like how many photos they’re dealing with, how large their staff is, and whether they outsource their editing. 

If editing is outsourced and done right, the average turnaround could be four weeks for the full gallery—may be less if the photographer has an entire staff. But some photographers prefer to handle everything themselves, which can take a bit more time.

See? Your shooter isn’t trying to torture you—promise! Good photographers want you to have the best finished product possible. We’ve heard of [couples] getting photos back too quickly when the editing isn’t entirely done.

And it’s not just the meticulous editing that takes time—the process of actually uploading the images can take up to several days, depending on the quality of the photos and your pro’s editing software. And remember, yours likely isn’t the only album they’re working hard to turn around, especially if your “I dos” are in peak wedding season. Each wedding takes me about 30 working hours to get through on the back end from beginning to end. Multiply that by the number of weddings per year, and you’ve got a ton of work on your hands.

Be Patient; it Will Be Worth The Wait.

You have hired a fantastic wedding photographer, be patient, it will be worth the wait, and when you see your photos, I am sure there will be smiles, joy, happiness, and even some happy tears as all those emotions come back as you relive the best day of your life.

Get a Sense of Timing on the Front End

Before you hire a photographer (or any wedding vendor, for that matter), hop on the phone or meet in person to ask them a bunch of questions, including what their usual turnaround time is. This will ensure there are (hopefully) no surprises down the line. Most important of all is to make sure it’s mentioned in your contract (aka please read through it!). If there’s no line specifying turnaround time, add it.

Ask for a Little Preview

Many shooters are happy to send you a few finished images within a week of your wedding. I always send my couples a sneak peek within the wedding week to hold them over until my blog comes out or receive the whole gallery. It’s a nice touch, and my couples love it. You’ll be so psyched to see a preview of what’s to come and even share them on social media (but ask your photographer before posting—that could be a point in your contract as well).

How Is Long Too Long?

If it’s been a week since your wedding and you haven’t gotten anything, that’s normal. But if the turnaround date in your contract has flown by without a peep from your photographer, that’s when you know it’s time to speak up. Be proactive in asking the photographer about the deliverables and timing. I wouldn’t necessarily be worried if your photographer gets back to you and communicates clearly that the photos will be ready by X date, but it’s time to take action if that day passes. Hopefully, this won’t happen to you, but a signed contract will be a lifesaver if you do have issues. 

Why does it take so long to get my wedding pictures?

Shooting a wedding is a big undertaking and something that a professional wedding photographer doesn’t take lightly. Managing your expectations goes a long way to ensuring that there are no nasty surprises down the pike. So why does it take so long to get your finished wedding pictures?

Every business works differently, so this is intended to be a more general introduction. Anyone that wants to understand why it isn’t precisely a quick turnaround.

Planning your dream wedding and don’t want to miss out on the special moments on your big day? Worry no more, Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.

We Have A Lot Of Other Weddings

Even though editing is a HUGE part of our jobs, it has to fit into the rest of our schedules. For me, that involves shooting a lot of weddings along with the day to day reality of running a business.

Currently, we spend probably 60 – 80 hours a week running a business. Yikes! Yes, we sometimes take a random day off or decide not to work, but I’m pretty much at full tilt most of the time.

We Have Businesses To Run

When we know we have a lot of editing to do, we try to clear our schedule as much as possible to allow for uninterrupted editing time. The day-to-day things are still there, such as bookkeeping, answering emails, talking to new clients, doing venue visits, marketing, blogging, scheduling Instagram posts, working on branding, networking, client care and so on.

One funny thing to consider is that an amateur photographer may even get you the photos faster! They may download the few they took onto the computer, slap a quick preset or filter on them the next day, stick them on Dropbox and Bob’s yer uncle! (In fact, it probably was uncle Bob that took those photos.)

Although it seems comparable at first glance, avoid conflating the time it takes a guest to upload her ‘fancy camera’ snaps to a Facebook album, to the four weeks, six weeks, three months or whatever that your wedding photographer informs you that they will take.

New Client Procurement (Marketing) Always Has To Come First

The reality of running a business is that the number of tasks every day is always marketing. We need to make sure we’re constantly replying to new leads inquiring with us immediately. It may not be cool to admit, because our clients are ALL important, but without the highest touch given to new clients coming in, our businesses would suffer.

We aim to get back to all new inquiries within 5 minutes of their hitting our inbox. Depending on the number of leads coming in every day, it can be disruptive to the tasks I’m trying to go deep with, but it’s a vital part of the business.

The same goes for new client meetings and phone calls once people have got in touch with us. They have to come first. Otherwise, we’ll lose that business, and they’ll find someone who can be more attentive. We have the best wedding photographer in Yarra Valley to capture your beautiful moments on your wedding day.

We’re Doing Non-photography Stuff And Can’t Edit Around The Clock.

On the flip side, another photographer may have a 9-5 full-time job, young kids, caring responsibilities, vacation plans, or limit the time they spend working/editing for sanity reasons.

Many people pick up a camera because they are looking for a bit of supplemental income. Nothing wrong with that! A lot are hugely talented, and respected professionals that you may not even know do photography as their side hustle. They won’t even mention to you or post anywhere online that they have a regular job besides wedding photography.

Backlogs Are Baked Into Reality Of Photographing Weddings

When the full force of the wedding season is upon us, we will always run into a backlog. Why?

We take about 14 hours to edit a wedding optimistically. (I heard other photographers take 2 hours, and we know another that takes 150 hours). Pretty efficient on the whole.

Suppose we had a wedding two days before. Yours, the editing process won’t have even started by the time we shoot yours. And what if there were another one five days before that, and yet another the previous weekend.

We’re not always going to find those 14 hours between weddings to start editing before the next wedding comes up. So when we come home from yours, the next job on the docket is to edit the weddings previous to yours.

We want to be fair to all our clients, so we don’t rush to edit our ‘favourite’ ones – everyone’s treated the same in the order the events took place.

Note: turnaround time should always be outlined with specific timeframes in your wedding photography contract. Photographers need to be realistic with their turnaround times, given that workload varies and life can throw a curveball, but what was agreed upon should not change after the contract is signed.

We Need To Allow A Contingency

Okay, so we’ve established it doesn’t take a solid eight weeks of working my skinny butt off to complete your wedding edits. Other things take up a significant portion of our time, on top of that backlog. So we have to allow longer than it might take.

We always want to exceed – no, smash expectations. Under promise, over deliver and all that jazz.

We don’t want to tell you that your images will take only four weeks, but at that time, I was expecting to be quietly editing your wedding and get booked for a bunch of last-minute weddings. Some of them involve a night away from home.

We don’t want to be calling you up to say, ‘hey, it’s going to take twice the time estimate I set for you’. By this time, you’re expecting to get your thank-you cards out and fielding questions from everyone asking, ‘are the pics ready yet?!’

My current turnaround time that we will sign & agree on is within two months for most weddings.

Have we ever taken that long to deliver a gallery? No. Sometimes we get it done within two weeks. But we do ask that my clients understand that two months is the expected and agreed timeframe. We’ve never had a scenario like the one described above happen… yet.

We All Approach Editing Differently

How long is it reasonable to wait for wedding photos?

Most photographers get onto this career path because they love taking pictures, being at weddings and interacting with their fun clients.

We have never heard of anyone getting into wedding photography because they want more time quality locked in a dark room with Lightroom.

If not super motivated, procrastination is…. likely. Think going through your 300 phone snaps from your vacay in Santorini is a daunting process? Try tackling 200GB of RAW files!

Outsourcing Vs In-house Editing?

Typically once a photographer reaches a specific volume of bookings, it becomes infeasible for them to cull/edit all the work themselves. This is especially the case if they use associate photographers working for them, so effectively, their business can shoot multiple events on the same day.

There would not be enough hours in the day. So many higher-end or high volume photographers are forced to outsource the post-processing work. Some may use an employee or an independent contractor who can do this. The editor can do just the culling (picking out the best images) or just the editing (putting the photos into Lightroom and tweaking them) or both.

What does that mean for you? Well, it might not mean anything but the photographer is at the mercy of that editing company or contractor. If the editor goes out of business, makes mistakes, or transfers the massive files, the photographer has to step in and put things right. Now there’s a delay. There’s always an element of risk and a trade-off involved when outsourcing work to other companies or imposing it on a contractor. But this isn’t generally something for clients to be concerned about.

No-one will work as hard as me getting my images just right, executing the creative vision I saw in my mind’s eye when I hit the shutter button. However, I realise this is somewhat unsustainable with the insane hours I work solely on my business. We have an exclusive range of wedding photography Mornington Peninsula services. Check them out here.

Rest Assured, It Isn’t You! And It Isn’t Because The Photographer Lost The Photos!

From reading about this online, I gather that some marriers are nervous when days, weeks, and months go by. Still, no shiny gallery link appears in their inbox.

They start to worry – what if our pictures were unusable? What if we did a lousy job at posing and our photographer can’t work with the images? Was our venue too dark? What if our photographer accidentally lost all our photos?

This never happens, at least not with a professional. We love working with every kind of couple and bringing out the best.

It’s a similar story for the different lighting scenarios. Like boy scouts, we’re prepared for anything.

We have multiple steps to make sure that we don’t accidentally lose your files or forget to record them to our cameras in the first place! That is part of why you use a pro, not a ‘cousin who has a Nikon’.

One of the many reasons I send out sneak peeks (a sample preview of 20-30 images from your day) is so you can see that everything’s good. You look amazing. I’ve got the pics. The whole day is on film.

TO CONCLUDE

Excitement IS high, I know, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not long to wait for images you’ll have forever! The work you commissioned me for takes time, and we will already have communicated and agreed in our contract. I assume that delivery date very seriously; that’s why I overestimate it. I’d never want to let you down!

I would be super bummed if I missed a deadline. No matter what might be going on in my business or personal life. That isn’t your concern.

The biggest takeaway I can offer you here is:

Always ask your photographer, ‘how long will it take for us to receive our finished wedding images?’ Ask that question before you agree on the arrangement. Get it in writing, and then ask them about it to be sure. Ask that question whether it’s a friend with a camera, a newbie photographer or an established professional.

If your photographer is saying a challenging three months and you cannot wait that long, that’s a deal-breaker. Search for a different photographer that prioritises quick turnaround. If your photographer doesn’t deliver by the date, they said they would reach out and ask them what’s happening. A responsible photographer should at least tell you what’s going on if they haven’t been able to perform the services in the contracted timescale. If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.

A true professional should be able to stick to their agreed-on delivery schedule as that was their end of the deal. But… we’re human. Sometimes life throws a curveball. Reality doesn’t align with intention. Something comes up. Accidents and emergencies happen. We make mistakes. Just ask, and we will let you know what’s going on.