Hiring a professional versus amateur makes a difference

It’s very common for a professional photographer to have a customer ask to be given all of the photo files from a day of shooting. Invariably, the photographer will try to persuade the customer against it, or even refuse outright. It leaves some customers confused—or possibly even angry. So why won’t your photographer let you have the product of the entire photo shoot? Many inexperience shooters do not the skill to retouch so give the unedited images on a disk. If that is what a client is looking for, there are plenty of “photographers” who are trying to increase their portfolio and start a business and this is how they are managing. The costs of licensing, insurance and professional dues are often neglected as well.


In reality, the customer has no right to the work in progress. If you were commissioning a painting, would you later demand all of the sketches and studies that went into the finished piece? Or if you had a dress made, would you ask for the muslin fitting trials or the fabric cut-offs? Or the stone chips leftover from the carving of a sculpture? Obviously not. However, asking to be given every shot taken during a session amounts to the same thing. The photos that are not used are cast-offs, the detritus left over as an artist works on a beautiful piece. There can be no benefit to seeing these unused, unnecessary bits of material.

But, you’re still asking, what’s the harm in having all of the photos? There can be a good deal of harm done to the professional photographer. If a customer were to show these unedited, cast-off photos to friends and family, it could seriously harm the photographer’s reputation. A professional artist shows off his best work after all of the very best photos have been chosen and edited to their greatest advantage for pictures of the most supreme quality and beauty. Having raw, discarded photos represented to others as his work, as pieces that were supplied to a customer, would make a photographer look unprofessional and inept.


Let’s face it, not every photo is going to come out perfectly. A photographer will take many, many photos during your session—hundreds of them in total. From these, she will cull the very best, the ones that are most flattering to you, and have the most potential to be works of art. And then she will perfect them, editing them until they are the best they can be, balanced and natural. These edited photos will show the best possible you, which is what you want out of your pictures, right? Wading through hundreds of unedited, unused photos, sometimes dozens of the same pose with only minute differences… there is nothing to be gained from this when your professional photographer will hand you the very best shots, edited to the best possible standard. The photos that aren’t chosen to be edited were left behind for a reason. No one wants to think of themselves retouching example LOP

as un-photogenic, but sometimes a shot will be plain unflattering, or from a bad angle, or will unintentionally highlight flaws. 

Professional photographers spend hours(sometimes days)  in the post production culling, retouching and preparing for the proofing. Choosing a photographer that does this and is experienced is the better option. Personally, I do sell individual images as well as the entire session digitally when asked. As in the example above, there are levels of retouching (and the example is more on the extreme side). Discussing the level of retouching with your photographer helps in the final outcome.

(Parts of this post are from an article from Picture Correct.)


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