How Long to Get Photos Back from Photographer?

photographer shooting a couple

After a photo shoot, be it a wedding or a family photo shoot, you will be very eager to see the final images. But, at times, the turnaround time of the photographer can be slow. There are many factors that affect this turnaround time. As a customer, you will be interested to know the various factors that affect the length of time taken by the photographer to share the photos with you.

photographer shooting a couple

As you all know, there are different genres of photography. The turnaround time will be different for each of these genres. The time taken by a wedding photographer to share the photos will be different from that for a maternity photo shoot.

In this article, I will share with you the approximate time taken by different types of photographers to share the pictures. It will give you a better idea about the time duration to receive your pictures and make you less nervous that something might be wrong.

In general, a photographer’s turnaround time depends on many factors such as season, editing needs, number of images, number of people in team, photoshoot schedule, and printing requirements.  Time to get photos back varies by genre, with wedding photos taking 3 to 8 weeks, newborn photos a week or more, family photos 7 to 10 days, maternity photos a week or more, and engagement photos up to 3 weeks.  Let’s discuss in detail.

What factors affect the turnaround time?

The turnaround time for the pictures depends on many factors. I will list all the factors that affect the turnaround time.


If you are doing the photo shoot in the peak season when most of the photographers will be busy with back-to-back work, then you can expect some delay in receiving your images. You can expect to get the images fast if it is during an off-season.

Selecting RAW images for editing

Almost all professional photographers will be using a DSLR or a Mirrorless Camera for their photo shoots. They will record the image in RAW format rather than JPEG format. It will help them to capture more details. It will help to do better editing on the picture without losing details. The photographer would have captured multiple sets of images. So, he/ she needs to sort out and select the appropriate images for editing. This process can take some time.

Editing images

The photographer cannot hand over the RAW pictures to you. He/ She needs to edit the pictures and share the final images with you. It will take some time to edit the images. The photographer needs to sit in front of the computer and edit the pictures. Different pictures will be shot in different lighting conditions. So, the photo editing person will not be able to do batch editing. He needs to spend some time with each of the pictures for editing.

Number of images

A wedding photographer needs to deliver more images than a photographer who has done a maternity photo shoot. So, the number of images to process will be more for a wedding photographer. When there are more images, it will take more time to edit those images. Hence, the turnaround time will be more for a wedding photographer.

Some photographers give their customers the option to select a number of pictures. So, when you go for a larger number of images, then it will take more time to process these pictures.

Team of photographers vs single photographer

You assigned the photoshoot work to a single photographer or a team of photographers. If it is a team of photographers, then the turnaround time will be less. There are multiple persons in the team who can do the sorting and editing of the images. If it is a single person doing the whole job, then you can expect a slow turnaround time. Before booking a photographer, you can always ask these questions of the photographer.

Number of photo shoots handled by photographer

If you have booked a popular photographer in your area for the shoots, then he/ she may be having many back-to-back photo shoots. They will not get enough time to edit your images right after the shoot. So, you can expect a few days of delay to get your pictures. In some cases, these popular photographers will have a team of people to edit and print the pictures and there won’t be any delay. It is a good idea to check with the photographer about his workflow initially.

Time for preparation of book

In the case of the wedding, you would have ordered a photo book. So, the photographer needs to spend some time designing this photo book with the pictures. The book design will consume a good amount of time. If there are no photo books as the deliverables, then you don’t have to take this time into account.

Photo printing

If the package that you have bought includes photo prints as one of the deliverables, then it will affect the turnaround time. The photographer needs to print the photos. In many cases, they will be using the service of the external photo printing shops to get the photos printed. So, it will take some time.

Sometimes, there will be a photo book or framed photos included in the package. It will take some time to print a photo book and frame pictures.

Lets now look at some specific examples.

How long will it take to get wedding photos back?

Once the wedding is over, you will be eagerly waiting to see your wedding images. When you think about it from the side of the customer, it is just a bunch of photos that the photographer can easily transfer to the client. But in the case of wedding images, the photographer will have got lots of images to work with. He needs to carefully edit all these images before sharing them with the customer.

Wedding photographer at work

Typically it will take around 3 to 8 weeks to receive all the images, both hard copies as well as digital copies. If you need some photos urgently, then it is a good idea to request the photographer to share some digital copies of the images at first.

The time taken by a wedding photographer actually depends on his workflow. If he is downloading all the images to his computer and editing them all by himself, then it is going to take some time. If he has a few wedding shoots in the coming days, then you can expect a long waiting time. If there is a specific person or team of people to edit the images, then you can get it within 5 weeks. Such photographers who outsource the editing tend to be more costly since they have to pay the editing person.

Many photographers have the habit of sending a few images upfront to the customers within 3 to 4 days after the wedding. It will ensure that the customer is happy with this set of instant images. If you are booking a wedding photographer, it is always good to ask the length of time to deliver the final images.

When you book a photographer for a photo shoot, you will be signing a contract with the photographer. You can include the dates for delivering the images in this contract. It will ensure that the photographer does not delay and sticks to these dates.

If your friends or relatives have already done a photo shoot with this photographer, then it is a good idea to check with them. It will give you better clarity on the photo delivery dates. The other option is to check the reviews online. You can easily find the reviews of most professional photographers online. You can search for the photographer on Google and see the reviews for yourself.

How long to get newborn photos back?

Unlike wedding photographs, the number of images that the photographer has to deal with will be less for a newborn photo shoot. So, he/ she will have fewer images to work with. Thus, the selection and editing process will be faster. In most cases, you will get all the images within a week’s time. If you need it urgently, you can always discuss it with your photographer.

He/ She can also share the digital copies of the image in web resolution with you in a couple of days if you want to share it with your friends and on social media soon. If you are planning to get the photos printed big and framed by the photographer, then you need to give some more time.

How long to get family session photos back?

The turnaround time for family photos will actually depend on the family size. If it is for a small family of three or four (parents and the kids), then you will get them fast. If it is a large family with grandparents, families of your cousins, etc, then it will take more time. Here, the photographer needs to capture images of the whole family as well as the individual small families.

So, the number of pictures will be more. Thus, the editing process will take more time. You can easily get the images with 7 to 10 days of time. If you only want the digital copies, then you can get them easily in 4 to 6 days of time.

How long to get maternity photos back?

When it comes to a maternity photo shoot, the photographer will have to share only 10 to 20 pictures with the customer. The post-processing of these 10 to 20 pictures will not take too much time. He/ She can easily share the digital copy of the images within 4 to 5 days. If you have requested photo prints, then you should be able to get them within a couple of weeks. If you are not getting the pictures after this period, then you can always check with the photographer.

How long to get engagement photos back?

The number of engagement pictures will be less than a wedding but more than a family photo shoot. So, the time taken to get the photos back from the photographer will be less than the wedding images. You can easily get a digital copy of the images within a week. You will get the printed engagement photos in a couple of weeks. If you have ordered an engagement photo book, then it can take more time. It can take up to 3 weeks for designing and printing of the book.

Couple being photographed

How long does it take to edit photos?

The time taken to edit an image will vary with photographers. Some photographers will take 5-10 minutes to edit an image whereas others may take up to 30 minutes to edit an image. The editing time will also vary with the photography genre. On average, an experienced professional photographer will take around 10 minutes to do the edits on one picture.

Some professional photographers do use certain presets for their images. It helps to accelerate the editing process. Thus, more photos can be edited in less time. All professionals use high-end computers/ laptops for editing images. So, there won’t be any delay caused by the computer.

Certain photographers outsource the photo editing work to others. In such cases, the editing work will be usually handled by a team of professional editors. So, the editing process will happen fast and they can hand over the finished images to the photographer back quickly. It will help to improve the turnaround time of the photographers with the photos. If there is a delay in sharing the pictures, then it will be mostly due to a slow editing process.

How long is it reasonable to wait for photos? 

The turnaround time for the images will actually depend on the type of photoshoot. It can be a wedding, maternity shoot, new born shoot, family photo shoot, etc. You will have to wait more time for a wedding than a new born shoot since the number of images is more. If you have only ordered the digital copies of the pictures, then you can wait up to two weeks. If you have ordered photo prints, you can wait up to 4 weeks maximum. If there is a photo book also, then you can wait up to 4 to 6 weeks.  Longer than that is not ok and unreasonable.

How to ask where my photos are?

If you are dealing with a highly professional photographer, then you won’t have to ask this question. He/ She will communicate the exact date when the photos will be delivered. But, sometimes there can be a delay from the photographer and it can be frustrating for you. Actually, the photographer must inform the customer if there is a delay in sharing the photos. If you are not seeing any response from him, you will have to check with him.

As the first step, you can ask them politely if you have not heard from them for a long time. You can either send a message, email, or call him. If you are not getting any response from the side of the photographer then you need to go ahead and take the next step. The photographers do not come cheap. So, you would have already paid for the photo shoot and are waiting for the pictures.

How many photos should you get from the photographer?

As a customer, you must have a clear-cut idea on the number of photos that you are going to receive from the photographer. Most of the photographers will tell you the number of photographs that they are going to share before the shoot itself.

Some photographers will have multiple package options. The number of pictures will vary for each of these packages. The cost will also vary with different packages. In such cases, you must have a good understanding of the number of images that you want. It will vary according to the photography type.

If you are unable to finalize a package for you, then it is a good idea to request the photographer to show his early work for each of these packages. It will help you to decide which of the package suits you the best. Always make sure that the cost of the shoot is within your budget. When you sign the contract with the photographer, ensure that the number of pictures is mentioned in the contract.

How will I receive my pictures after the photo shoot?

There are multiple methods used by photographers to share the final images with their clients. I will list out all these methods below. It will give you a better idea of the way in which you are going to receive the pictures from the photographer after the shoot.


Some photographers still share the pictures on a CD or DVD. They will either hand over the CD/ DVD to you or will send it via mail. CDs and DVDs are getting outdated these days since newer computers/ laptops are coming without CD/DVD drives.

Pen drive

Nowadays, photographers prefer to copy all the pictures into a customized pen drive and share it with you. These customized pen drives will have the engravings of the name of bride, groom, and photographer.

Cloud services

Nowadays, with the rapid advancement in technology, photographers are using various cloud services to share photos with customers. It helps to avoid the unnecessary headache of sending the CD or DVD to the clients via mail. Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, and Amazon Drive are some of the popular cloud services used by photographers. The photographer will put all the edited images in a folder and will drop them in any of these clouds.

The link to download the pictures will be shared with the customer. Once you receive the link, download and keep your pictures safe. After some time, the photographer will remove the images from the cloud. It will be only available for some time in the cloud.

Photo Prints

Some of the images will be shared in the form of photo prints. The size and photo paper details of the print will be mentioned in the package. You can select accordingly. Whenever you include printed photos as one of the deliverables, the cost will also increase. The photographer will share with you the details of the number of photo prints when you sign the contract.

Framed Photo Prints

Certain photographers do provide framed photo prints. All the final images of the shoot will not be shared in the framed photo print format. Only some of the best shots taken during the shot will be shared in the form of framed prints. You can hang it on your wall. If you prefer any specific size for the photo frames, then you need to discuss and finalize it while booking the photographer.

Photo Books

If it is a wedding photo shoot, then you will get a wedding photo book designed with all the beautiful pictures taken during the shoot. You can get it if you opt for a package that includes the wedding album. If it is a maternity photoshoot or a newborn photoshoot, you can request the photographer to create a photo book for you, if you are interested.

What should I do with the shared images (digital copies)?

If you have opted for the digital copy of the photos alone, then you must not keep it on your computer only. These are some beautiful images for which you have paid. It is a good idea to make some photo prints out of it. You can even frame some of these prints and hang them on your wall. Consider creating a photo book with all these images.

It is a wonderful way to preserve your memories. Make sure to keep multiple copies of the pictures in different places, like on 2 separate hard disks. It is to protect these images. Even if one of the hard disks fails, your pictures will be safe on the other.

Below is a useful video if you are interested to know what a photographers workflow looks like from photoshoot to finished product:


I hope this article answered all your questions about getting your photos back from the photographer.

Read this article to know the importance of communication in wedding photography

By Nicholas

Nicholas is a staff writer at Photodoto. His interests include photography, collecting cameras old and new, video editing, and all things 3d. If a new gadget comes out on the market, he's sure to be the first to try it. He enjoys experimenting with low light photography, very long exposures and high speed filming.