Why are you taking so long to deliver my wedding photos?

I’ve noticed something this year, more so than in any previous years. I’ve been receiving messages from my clients, less than 1 week after having photographed their weddings, wondering how the pictures are looking or if there is any news about them. Sometimes my clients will even say that they are asking because their family is wondering when they will receive their wedding photos. I totally get it. It’s a fast moving Hi-Tech world. We can snap a beautiful smartphone pic, edit it, share it on multiple social media platforms, tag our loved ones and attach it to a DM that can be forwarded to 300 people all over the globe in less than 3 minutes. All while we’re waiting in line for our Mobile Pick-Up Starbucks order. I understand 100%. You just celebrated the biggest day of your life and you just can’t wait to re-live it.

Let me provide you with a little insight about what happens after my assisting photographer and I pack up our equipment and leave your wedding, in order to create some understanding as to why many professional photographers take so much time to process, edit and deliver their clients treasured images.

Just prior to leaving for the night I pull the backup SD card out of my camera and place it in its protective case and carefully pop it into my pocket. I leave the primary card inserted in the camera until I get to my computer. This way, if something were to happen to me or my camera during the journey between the event and my office, the primary card and the back-up card are separated.

At this point there are already two copies of your raw unedited wedding photos in two different locations. Upon arriving at my office I will transfer the images from the primary card onto one of my external hard drives. The back-up card is stored away in a safe place for now. There are now 3 copies of your raw unedited wedding photos safe and sound all while you are still partying the night away. Often I will take 30 minutes or so to pull a few highlights out of the mix while all the moments are still fresh in my mind. I will save them in an easily accessible folder so that they can be edited and shared within the next week or two. And now it’s time for me to get some sleep.

To give you some perspective, I often photograph at least one wedding each weekend from June to November. Some years I photograph anywhere from twenty-five to thirty-five weddings each year. This makes for a seemingly endless amount of editing which can quickly become boring and tedious, affecting my attention span and ultimately the quality of my work.

Generally the day after a wedding, or sometimes two days because of back to back weddings, I like to spend little to no time at the computer screen. Maybe it’s my age, but I feel that it is essential to take some time to recuperate mentally and physically after a long day or two of hauling 30lbs of equipment around. This mental and physical break also allows me the opportunity for a creative reboot.

As I’m sure you can imagine, editing photos, photographing family sessions, headshots, engagement sessions, newborn or maternity sessions, answering seemingly endless emails, booking new clients, networking, handling the promotion of my business and keeping my social media and website up to date can be quite daunting. Since this is my only source of income, all of these elements need to work seamlessly like cogs in a machine in order to ensure continued success.

In order to be successful I like to edit weddings in manageable chunks of about one or two hours at a time. This saves me from zoning out and making bad decisions when culling or editing the photos. As a professional the last thing that I would want to do is to sprint through the editing process and ultimately deliver a product that is sub-par.

For this reason I generally estimate the entire post shoot process of a wedding, from downloading through editing to upload and delivery, to be around the same time spent capturing the event. If an assistant photographer was included in the package this entire process is repeated a second time. While there are editing services available to photographers, I am not interested in giving up my creative license to a complete stranger somewhere else in the world.

That creative license or vision is incredibly important to me. It is the essence of my art. I am so grateful to not only have been given the opportunity to have been a part of such an incredibly special day but to also be able to present it to you through my creative lens.

While the creative process can seem lengthy at times and require a lot of patience from all sides, myself, the eager bride and groom and their families, the rewards are priceless.

So from the moment I say goodbye to you at the end of your big day, all I ask for are three months. Three months to keep new business coming in to ensure that my bills are covered, spend time with my family and my friends, to care for my physical and mental well being and to take the time to lovingly finish your collection of photographic wedding day memories.

For this, I thank you in advance.

Mike Streeter.

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