The Short Answer
Barring unforeseen circumstances, my wedding clients will see their photos within 8 weeks of their wedding.
The Longer Answer
There are several real life factors I have to take into consideration when I shoot and process anything: my health, my family, my other work, and the quality of the work I deliver.
My Health: I don’t make a public deal out of my health, but every day is a struggle for me. I have Lyme disease that has damaged my adrenal and pituitary glands, so I often shoot through depression and process over symptoms. I also have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), which means that cloudy days and barometric pressure greatly affect my ability to function. I’ve had to create several different methods for doing my work to account for this factor. On my good days I get a LOT done. On my bad days, I get SOMETHING done.
My Family: I have a husband, a two-year-old, and an almost-five-year-old. In the ten years I’ve been shooting, I have learned that I cannot just shut them out indefinitely to plow through huge projects. I shut my computer down after a certain point during the day. Pete and I have to schedule processing time into our family life so that I can focus my work for quality.
My Other Work: I am not just a wedding photographer. I am also a portrait photographer. I do design and photo work for The High Calling. I maintain my own website and blog, run my own marketing, and keep my web presence current and lively. I also spend time answering queries and taking care of emails. I am overhauling my portfolio this year, remaking my website, and preparing a workshop for other creatives to launch later this summer. My to-do list is so full, I almost never stop working, and I have to prioritize my projects based on health, family, and importance.
The Quality of My Work: Many photographers take their images home, burn them to discs, and send them off to a processing company to cull a standard wedding story, edit it, and upload it to a web album and/or make prints within a week of the wedding. Having tried this method and been thoroughly disillusioned by the quality of the images that were returned, I have chosen to make my post-processing an integral part of my brand.
This means that while my images may not be the first images a bride sees from her wedding, I will ensure that they are the best images she’ll see. Every image I deliver has my personal touch on it, and I hold my work to a very high standard of quality. Each photo, each collection is a unique work of art. My image collections will not be what anybody else would shoot or see.
Almost immediately after every wedding, I cull my usable images to lock in the freshest, most honest record of the day. Once I release a one-image preview, I take a week to reset in order to view the images more objectively as I edit. (Normally I take several days after my portrait sessions too, and ask for up to two weeks to process those, though rush sessions are an exception to this rule.)
Once I begin editing, I approach each lighting situation and location as a “portrait” session. Some weddings have more “sessions” than others, depending on the number of hours I was shooting, the number of locations I shot in, and the change in the lighting for each location. I’ve had up to 15 “sessions” within a wedding. The sum of the “sessions” makes up the whole of the wedding collection.
But unlike portrait sessions, a wedding requires a concentrated focus over a period of time to maintain a consistent story in processing – especially when I have two or three shooters. As I process each “session,” I make sure that each image makes sense in the overall story, that it says something about the day that my bride wanted.
Accounting for the factors I listed above, sometimes I can do only a “session” a day once I start processing, unless I have two or three days with babysitting (the cost of which is not built into discounted pricing) and nothing else going on. Photographers are people too, and this particular photographer operates with a lot of variables. Sometimes it takes me a few weeks to make – or accumulate – that two-or-three-day push and complete a collection. (EXAMPLE: I lost last weekend for work because we had to make an emergency trip to Virginia.)
Every single wedding I shoot is unique. My goal in every wedding story I deliver is for my bride to remember the feeling she dreamed for the day. I shoot for her, so that she can see that her wedding was her dream-come-true, regardless of what dynamics might or might not have played in (last-minute clothing forgettage, grumpy bridesmaids, rushed photo sessions, etc.).
Believe me, there is no one more excited to release my wedding images than I am – but there is no possible way that I can deliver a full wedding within a week – or even two weeks of shooting it unless I can outsource to someone that I can trust to do my post-processing work as I would do it. It is not my intention to hold back the images or to take advantage of my clients; it is my intention to deliver the most amazing images they’ll see from their day.
If you like my work, I need you to trust me to deliver the best, best, best work I have in me in the fastest time that I can. I won’t promise anything earlier than eight weeks after your wedding, but if you trust me and let me work at the pace I need to produce the very highest quality, I promise to blow you away. It’s what I do.