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Typical Photo Turnaround Times: How Long is Too Long?

Typical Photo Turnaround Times:
How Long is Too Long?

We’ve all heard the horror story before: “My photographer STILL hasn’t sent my photos, and it’s been 6 months! Is this normal?” The answer to this one is pretty clearly “No!” but just how long is too long?

Did you know that your photographer probably spends more time editing your images than they do taking them? For an average 8-hour wedding with two photographers, we may shoot 2,000-3,000 images or more! It takes a lot of time to sort through them, sync them in chronological order, choose the best ones, rename them and then edit them to reflect our signature style.

Every photographer works a little bit differently, so keep in mind these turnaround times are generalizations based on my own workflow. Life happens and schedules sometimes get out of whack a little bit, but if your delivery time is significantly longer than these, it may be time to follow up with your photographer to find out what’s going on.

Typical Turnaround Times

Type of ShootProofsFinal Products
(6-10 hours)
1 to 3 weeks, usually 1 week

*Some photographers deliver a small set of Sneak Peeks within a few days
High-res Files: Same as proofs
Albums: 4-6 weeks from date of approval
Prints: 5-10 days
Small Corporate/Special Events
(up to 10 hours)
1 to 5 days, usually 2 daysHigh-res Files: Same as proofs
Prints: 5-10 days
Multi-Day Corporate Events3 to 7 days, usually 2 days from end of eventHigh-res Files: Same as proofs
Portrait Sessions 1 to 3 days, usually 2 days High-res Files: 1-2 days from client selection
Prints: 5-10 days
Head Shots 1 to 3 days, usually 2 days High-res Files: 1-2 days from client selection
Real Estate MLS Shoots12 to 36 hours, usually 24 hours or lessHigh-res Files: Same as proofs
Culling, flagging, rating, renaming & editing in Adobe Lightroom

Things That May Impact Delivery

In-House Editing vs. Outsourcing

If your photographer is in high demand, they may be out shooting rather than in the office editing. Or maybe they have another full- or part-time job. Photographers outsource their culling & editing for a variety of reasons, so turnaround times may be slightly slower based on their editor’s turnaround times. In the example table above, I’d add 5-7 days to estimates if your photographer is outsourcing to another agency.

Peak Season

Hopefully your photographer makes you feel like you are their only client! But the truth is, successful photographers usually have a few other sessions in their queue before their shoot with you. We may need some time to wrap up a previous client’s editing before we can start on yours.

Unexpected Delays

Unexpected delays do happen. We can’t always control things like family emergencies, computer problems, etc. so please be understanding if your photographer is running a little behind schedule. We know you are excited to see your photos, and we can’t wait to share them with you!

The Bottom Line

Talk to your photographer about their estimated turnaround times BEFORE you book them. If something is critical, don’t be afraid to ask them to put it in writing. If you ever have any concerns or questions about when you can expect to see your proofs or receive any finished products, please contact your photographer so they can address these with you immediately. We’ve all heard the horror stories about the bad apples in the business, but most of us really do care about our clients and we’ll bend over backwards to make sure you’re happy!

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