The Value of a Professional Photographer, or, "Can I have all the unedited photographs?"

After sitting in front of the TV days on end with Friends in the background, eyes locked onto my laptop. Editing, editing and more editing. I had finally finished this process for my clients photographs.

100+ carefully retouched photos selected from 3,454 pictures taken on the day. It's not a very easy job to do, although I do enjoy playing around on Photoshop as what photographer doesn't.

I then was asked the question 'Could I have the original photographs too?'.

After the hard work of selecting the best ones from a large number of duplicate photos it was a typical question to ask but with all rights to.

I had also a client ask if the photographs could not be edited....

So I did some researching online and found an inspiring, logical article named

'The Value of a Professional Photographer, or, "Can I have all the unedited photographs?" by Calab Kerr.

A photographers view on the importance of the editing process.

Here is a sum up of what Calab Kerr had to say, with some constructive information and a great article to read:

(To read the full article please view the site:

"Every photographer has gotten the question after a successful shoot:

“The photos look great, but can I get the rest of them just in case I need them later? You don’t need to edit them or anything.”

If you’re here for the short answer, the answer is no, but it’s important to me for people to understand why.

I don’t say no to this request because I’m greedy or want to say no just because I can. It’s not because I’m lazy and don’t feel like dealing with it. But rest assured, I’m not withholding that one killer photo.

“But what’s the harm?”

This is my attempt at a succinct explanation of why it’s not that simple.

My editing is part of my process, my product, and my style. It’s part of why you hired me.

The way that I edit is a crucial component of my photography. My style and skill as a photographer encompass other things like framing, timing, and a whole host of other skills, but the photo is not the finished product that I’m proud to put my name on until I’m done the editing. If you’re baking Thanksgiving dinner, you don’t pull the turkey out half way through cooking and serve it!

The edited images shown here are what I want to represent me. That’s the kind of work that’s on my website, and it’s the caliber that I want people to expect. Below are several more examples of a side-by-side comparison of a totally untouched RAW photo and my completed edits.

How are you to trust that I chose the best photos and didn’t skip the better ones? Chalk it up to the thousands of hours I’ve spent looking at photos and paying attention to what makes them good or not. My ability to choose the best images for the assignment is one aspect of what I’m being hired for. Delivering 10,000 mediocre photos is not respectful of the recipient’s time, because they shouldn’t have to do my sorting work for me.

Not to say some jobs don’t require client input, of course — I simply mean that once the selects are made and everything is approved, asking for the rest of them just for good measure is unnecessary.

There has already been an agreement.

There’s always an agreed upon plan of action before going into a shoot, and part of that plan is what the expectations are in terms of number of photos that are needed (sometimes a specific amount, sometimes a range, depending on the project). This is the responsibility of a photographer to be clear about. The fact is, the photographer’s price has taken into account the final number of photos being delivered, both from a usage/licensing and a time-spent-editing standpoint. Because all the photos can’t be easily or quickly delivered, this means more time for the photographer beyond what you both had established was going to be happening.

Of course, things happen, and sometimes more photos are needed for one reason or another. Be aware that there may be additional charges for processing more images, but the simplest thing to do is just to always stay in communication throughout the process and things will pan out.

Do you really want to look through 5,000 of these?


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Fun, alternative photographer in Brighton, East Sussex

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