After the Session: What happens to my pictures now?
When you are finished with a portrait session, there is still a lot of work to be done for the photographer. The first thing that will happen after you leave is that the photographer will transfer the photos from the camera memory to several places. The first is the computer where the editing process will take place, the second is the primary back up, which for us this is another drive in the main editing computer. Finally there is usually at least one other backup done, such as to a server or other memory. This is the most critical time because until the photographer feels the photos are safe, there is always the possibility that something could go wrong and the pictures could be lost.
Once the photographer is satisfied that the pictures are safe and backed up, then the initial culling process happens. This is where the photographer goes through the pictures and removes all those where the subject (that’s you) is blinking, moving, or talking so that their expression is not good. After this initial culling process, the photos are then cropped as necessary and put into a proof gallery. This gallery is then given to you in some form (most photographers do online proof galleries now) so you can choose which photos you like and would like digitally mastered. This whole process typically takes a couple days to a week after the photo session depending on how busy your photographer is.
After you have chosen your favorite portraits, the photographer then goes back and perfects those photos. This can be as simple as adjusting a color or as complex as creating specialty colors or skin adjustments. The timing of this part of the process really depends on the proofs and what you wish to have done to them. Next, the portraits are adjusted for printing and for viewing to maximize their beauty for whatever form you wish them in. It can take anywhere from a couple days to a couple weeks to finish all these adjustments.
Finally, if you are having your portraits printed by the photographer then the printing process will begin. This again can vary depending on the number and size of prints you have ordered. This could be anywhere between a week and two weeks to get them all printed and shipped or delivered to you. If you ordered a high resolution CD or flash drive, then the pictures are burned onto the CD, which takes about an hour, and then it can be delivered to you.
If you are looking to save money overall, purchasing the HRCD with printing rights will save you money when you do want to make prints. Typically, whether the photographer is printing in-house or outsources printing to a professional lab, it is more expensive to print through the photographer than to have the prints done yourself. This is true for the lab we use as well. The wholesale cost to us as the photographer is more than they charge you as a consumer for the same service. Make sure you know what you are getting, however, as each photographer’s contract is different and will charge accordingly. There is a huge difference between getting printing rights or usage rights and getting the copyrights. Some people will insist that you MUST get the copyrights, but for most people, this is more expensive and more of a hassle than they would want.
This is a very generalized guide to what happens during a typical portrait session and is meant to help you be more comfortable with the process. The more comfortable you are, the better your portraits will be! I hope you have found it helpful.