I've recently had a few brides wonder why it takes so long to get their C.D.s back after the wedding day (my standard turn around time, which I tell all my brides, is 4-6 weeks).
Let me explain.
You may have heard (or maybe you haven't) that only a little bit of a photographer's work is actually spent with you, taking the pictures. Here is what happens after I get home from a shoot.
I take all of my images in a format that a computer wont open without special software. This format is called RAW and I use it because it saves more of the data from an image than a standard .jpg image does. It therefore allows me more flexibility in editing. Something a lot of people don't know is that a normal .jpg image is automatically edited and compressed in the camera, as soon as it's taken. A RAW image is not. RAW images are larger because they do save more data. Larger images = more time to edit and more strain on a computer.
Once I get all the RAW images onto my computer then I have to go through them. I delete any images that are blurry, have someone blinking or making a face, duplicates, etc. at this point.
Next, I start the editing process. Because the images are RAW, I first open them in a RAW editing program. Here is what a image might look like straight out of the camera:
It's not bad, but not up the that standard that I like my final product to be.
In the RAW editing software I'll be able to adjust a whole bunch of settings. For this picture, I mostly brightened different aspects of the picture (dark sections, highlights, etc.). I always edit it looking at the colors of the skin. Everything else can be adjusted later, but the skin color is always my number 1 concern. I also straightened out this image. I then export the image and open it in Photoshop. Here is what it looks like after I save it out:
Once in Photoshop, I'm going to go ahead and add some dimension back into the building, background, his suit and their hair:
I will then go in manually and edit out blemishes on the skin (don't worry! I'll always leave things that are part of you- like moles and freckles. Only the zits go :). )
And the last thing I do is sharpen the eyes and other features so the image is nice and crisp:
And there you have it!
It might not sound like a lot, but to edit an image like this (which is a pretty basic edit) takes me about 8-10 minutes. I also usually will convert the image to black and white and save a copy of that, which take an additional 2-3 minutes. (For a better explanation about what goes into making your image b&w and more before/after shots, see this post here.)
You can see that even at the best estimate, I can edit about 6 pictures an hour. This is not simply burning you a C.D., a whole lot more goes into your images.
Maybe you don't think it's all necessary-that the original shot looks fine. But I'm trying to build a brand. And I'm a little bit of a perfectionist with my images. Thats a good thing for you, because that means every one of your pictures from your big day is going to be absolutely beautiful. Just like the day was.
I want to make your memories as perfect as possible.
I'm sure you can see now why 4-6 weeks is a reasonable estimate. I understand that you are anxious to get your pictures back! It's the best day of your life and you're dying to relive it! But don't you want your pictures to be a great as possible?