Why wedding photographers won't deliver unedited photos

The definitive guide to understand what's behind the work of your wedding photographer

This topic concerns any type of professional photography and not only wedding photography, except for some isolated cases: photojournalists, who need to deliver the photos to their clients as soon as possible, do not have enough time for the editing and therefore they deliver the photos as they are developed directly by the camera (it is called OOC, Out Of Camera).
For all other cases, however, editing is an integral part of the creative process of making a photograph.

Throughout this article there will be interactive comparisons to show you the difference between an edited photo and the same photo Out of Camera. Simply move the slider below the picture to get immediate feedback of what I am writing to you.

How to go from a "dull" photograph to one in which the couple is really the center of attention.

So you have already read the answer to the initial question in brief, but if you want to better understand what happens to a photograph of yours, I recommend you read on!

I already mentioned the editing process in some previous article, such as in How much does a wedding photographer cost?, Personalised Wedding Photo: the relevance of a professional editing and How many Wedding Photos should You get from Your Photographer?, but I decided to write this new article in order to summarize all the reasons why a professional photographer needs editing the photographs before handing them over and to give you valuable advice.
This way, in choosing your wedding photographer, you will have more than one trick up your sleeve to understand:

  • if you really have a professional in front of you;
  • how much time the photographer would devote to you and your photographs;
  • if the price of the wedding photographer is consistent with his work.
So let's examine the work of the photographer from the moment of the shot to the delivery of the photographs, without using technicalities and in the simplest way.

Shooting RAW

Digital cameras allow you to save photos in files of different format. Among those most used and that you certainly know there is the JPG (or JPEG) format, made from the need to reduce the file size of images through compression techniques. However this is not the format used by professional photographers, who prefer instead the RAW format and which in its name contains all its potential.

Think in fact of the work of a wood carver: starting from a piece of wood he begins to make the first carvings to give a coarse shape of what will go detailed later. From those first carvings (the RAW file) you surely can understand the subject that will come out at the end, but the complete work (the final photograph) is only in the artist's head until he will definitively bring it into the wood.

As with the first notches, a RAW file contains the best material available to be processed because:

  • it has a lot of information about light and color captured by every single pixel of the camera sensor;
  • the information it contains is as close to what is "seen" by the camera sensor, without any kind of filter, therefore they are still completely editable.
The JPG format, on the other hand, not only is a compressed format (therefore it contains less information) but it is also already edited by the camera with standard settings, a sort of all-purpose filter: editing this type of file limits the potential and can only lead to a degradation of the final image quality. At this point you understand well that it is very important that the photographer you choose shoots in RAW format rather than in JPG.

Vivid colors for a very bright photo, with the light softened by the bride's veil upon the couple.

The editing process

RAW format, as the word itself suggests, is a rough format: it is that piece of wood with sketched lines but still to be finished. The finishing process for a photography is called editing. But what do we photographers do in front of the PC during this famous editing process? In a nutshell: we give our own interpretation of the photos.

Avoiding technical language, here is a very short list of what we can do at the level of the whole photograph or at the local (details) level:

  • making the photo (or details) lighter or darker;
  • changing the contrast;
  • cutting the photo or straighten it;
  • inserting a "grain" effect;
  • deeply modifying the colors.
In short it is as if we created a sort of filter for each individual photograph. After giving the photograph the general aspect we have in mind, we then proceed with the editing of other details: depending on the philosophy of each photographer, slight or strong changes are made to the aesthetics of the subjects portrayed or to disturbing elements. Someone, using Photoshop, could totally change a photo, but usually is not a practice in wedding photography.

Today a good photographer must be able not only to take beautiful photographs, but he must also master editing techniques in order to give a unique aspect to his photographs and to be able to show his vision.

The building looked inevitably "flattened" because I couldn't get up several meters from the ground, so I corrected the perspective distortion, as well as making the atmosphere warmer and more romantic.

Giving you the wedding photographs

What should you couples expect when getting your photos? You should expect a full story of the wedding day, but above all that the story is consistent with you, with the style of your wedding and with the environments in which you wanted it.
Each photograph, which will be part of the story, must therefore be taken care of individually, but with a global vision for the whole day. Each photograph must be edited from a RAW file.

This is why, in my opinion, whoever takes the photos of your wedding must be the same person who is responsible for the following editing process. And the more this editing process is inspired by you, the more unique it will be and you will recognize yourselves in it.

How to defend yourself from the most common pitfalls

Editing is an essential element in the development process of contemporary photography and characterizes the style of each photographer. A photographer who does his job with passion will never give you unedited photographs, in the same way that a painter will never give you a painting halfway through his work.
Unfortunately, the editing process requires a lot of dedication and time, even more if it has the purpose to be unique for every couple.

As with any other demanding job, however, there are many shortcuts for photographers and as many pitfalls for you customers. Let's see what they are and how you can defend yourself:

Presets and ready-made filters
Do you know Instagram filters? Well, of course, you can find all sorts of them also for the professional tools that we photographers use. As for Instagram, these are ready-made filters on which, however, you can intervene on any parameter. But a competent photographer does not need such tools to obtain the desired result, for one simple reason: he is certainly able to give a photograph the look he has in mind. Of course, it takes time, he can change his mind along the way by changing one parameter rather than another, but all of this is part of the creative and artistic process both of the single photograph and of the entire story told in the photo shoot.
A photographer who has to rely on one of these filters does half his work and delegates the finishing to someone else: do you understand how absurd this behavior sounds? Yet, to speed up their work at the expense of quality and customization, many people use them.
Delegation to third parties
Another solution is to delegate the editing process to third parties: you just need a simple Google search to find an exorbitant number of companies that deal exclusively with editing photographs. You can't know how many e-mails we receive of offers of this type of work, especially from India at negligible costs (and with an embarrassing quality), a sign of the presence of a market if not flourishing, at least competitive.
But, if in the previous solution the "photographer" makes at least the effort to choose the filter to be applied, in this case there is total disinterest in the editing process. And you customers have no guarantee of the final result.
Shooting in JPG format
Still with the aim of avoiding post-production work, some photographers shoot directly in JPG format and deliver in a very short time the photographs processed by the camera.

From a photograph with banal colors to one with character, which goes well with the rest of the photographic story, from the first hours of the morning to the reception.

The three shortcuts that I have listed are certainly lawful and legal, but they imply a fact of enormous gravity: the photographer outsource a part of the artistic process, to people or automatisms. This photographer, who "signs" his photographs, is actually only partially author of them. And you may be totally unaware of it!

So you can unmask such behavior (if not explicitly stated) by asking many questions to the photographers you meet:

  • explicitly ask in which format the photos are shot;
  • inquire about the editing process by asking the photographer what his / her way of working is and whether he / she makes use of collaborations, internal or external to the studio;
  • look carefully, even several times, full wedding stories and not single photographs from different weddings: there is no need to be technical to perceive a certain harmony in the editing of all the moments of the day; pay attention that the colors are consistent for the whole photographic story;
  • read carefully the contract: if external companies were used for post-production, they should receive the files to be post-produced, so there should at least be mention of them in the contract for both privacy and rights; even more serious would be the situation in which it was hidden!
  • beware of those who promise to deliver the photos to you a few days after the wedding day or even show them on the same day: the editing process takes time, like any handcrafted work.


Look for a photographer who is not willing to give you unedited photographs and who personally takes care of the editing of his photographs: he will surely be a passionate about his work, with a precise artistic vision and he will be able to give you a unique memory in which you will recognize and find yourself over time.

IstantiSenzaTempo|We take care of Your Memories

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