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?
What Is the Customer Entitled To?
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.
The Truth Behind a Photo Session
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 as unphotogenic, but sometimes a shot will be plain unflattering, or from a bad angle, or will unintentionally highlight flaws. No matter how much a customer assures a photographer that they will not be upset by the raw, unedited stack of hundreds of photos, this invariably turns out to be the case. The customer sees themselves portrayed in unflattering ways in these unused photos and becomes upset. They’re left feeling doubtful about their photographer’s abilities. If the photos are of a particularly important occasion, like commemorating an engagement or the birth of a child, the emotions attached to these photos can be very high. And no one wants to see a newly engaged woman burst into tears when she sees her photos for the first time!
Trust the Professional
If you still want to see all of the photos, ask yourself why. Is it possible there might be a really great shot hiding amongst all of those discards—something that you might be missing out on? Your photographer has carefully combed through all of the photographs and has just as carefully chosen the very best to be edited and presented to you for your album or for framing. Trust that s/he has created these for you from the very best shots of your session together. S/he is just as interested as you are in having those photos be beautiful and memorable, highlighting the photographer’s talent and hard work. Your photographer knows his art, and you chose him for a reason, trusting him to capture your image and your essence. Now trust him to complete his work, to find the true gems among the photos, and to make them shine.
About the Author:
Alexander Soloviev is a family photographer based in Wiltshire, UK. Alexander does a wide variety of photography related to people and their activities: family, parties, weddings, events, personal profiles, nurseries, schools—you name it! Pet photography (especially horses) is another object that tightly connects to everyday human life.
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