A common question photographers get asked is, "When will I get my photos back?"
The answer is going to be different from every photographer, because it all depends on our processes. These processes are also dependent on things like lighting, skin texture, whether it's a close-up headshot or a full-body shot, the purpose of the image, and more.
For example, a professional corporate headshot will require a lot of time retouching and editing very fine details. This might take 30 minutes to an hour if the subject's skin needs extra work. A full-body shot of a couple running in a field won't require so much time because the details in their faces aren't as prominent and don't require retouching.
Here is an example of a photo that took me about 30 minutes to edit.
The version on the left was the photo straight out of the camera, and the right is what I delivered. I re-painted his cheeks with color from his nose to fix the rosiness, smoothened some skin under his eyes, re-colored the top lip to match the bottom more, and smoothened some skin on the forehead.
This is not an intense headshot edit, but it serves the purpose as an example.
here is a photo that took me 5 minutes to edit.
Because I was farther away, the camera didn't pick up as much detail in their faces so hardly any retouching or blemish removal was required at all. I exposed the way I wanted in camera so all I had to do was increase the warmth, enhance the coloring a bit, and bring the shadows a tad brighter so the subjects weren't too dark.
Typically, I deliver images within 7 days.
After uploading, I select 1-2 favorites from each "set" during the session and run them through a quick edit to get a base edit for each set. After this, I like to take a day or 2 without looking at them at all so that when I go back to edit them I am looking at them with fresh, objective eyes. It is very common to get hyped on a session while editing right after and during this hype it's very easy to miss some things!
When I sit down to edit the session, I go through the whole shoot and pick out usable images with a rating system. Every usable photo gets 1 star. This cuts the selection pool to about 20% of the whole session. Our example will be an engagement session. If there are 500 photos from an engagement session, maybe 70-100 will get a star.
Next, I go through the rated photos and select the "definite yes" photos and I weed out the "on second thought, never mind" photos. There are always photos that fall into the middle, and those stay and get edited. I'll weed those out later. After this step, there are usually around 45-55 photos to edit. Depending on my schedule, sometimes a whole session can be edited in 1 day. Sometimes it takes me 2-3 days to finish editing a session if I am extra busy in between.
After editing all of the photos, I put them away until the next day. After staring at a screen for multiple hours, or looking at the same thing for too long, our minds may start to play tricks on us and we see things that aren't there, or don't see things that are there. That's why when giving someone the same photo and telling them to spot the differences, some people really believe they see differences.
The next day I'll look at them again with fresh eyes, and sometimes tweaks need to be made. After these tweaks, I will wait a couple hours before looking at them again. This is when I cut from 45-55 down to the 40 best of the best photos from the session, upload them, and deliver your gallery.
This process is similar with weddings, however due to the extremely large volume of photos, expect it to take a lot longer. I currently deliver wedding photos within 1 month of the wedding date, with some sneak peaks along the way.
Trust me, your wedding photos are worth the wait!
In general, every photographer is different and the waiting time is something that should be discussed between you and your photographer.