Have you ever asked yourself why your photographs can’t be delivered onsite at your event or first thing in the morning? Well to be totally honest, they can be. But why aren’t they is probably the more important question.

Most professional photographers shoot in a format called Camera RAW. Basically a large file that can hold much more information then a JPG file can (you can read more about it here). These files need to be processed and converted into a more usable file format for the end user to use, usually a JPG file.

The approximate time for event photographs to be processed and edited is roughly half the time the photographer was onsite shooting. Of course, this varies on the number of images and also on the number of lighting conditions and changes. The lighting of a speaker at a lectern doesn’t change during the day, however an outdoor even on an overcast day could change every minute.

Step 1. Downloading & Multiple Backups

Images from the memory cards are downloaded and backed up immediately onto multiple drives because you never know when a computer hard drive will fail.

Step 2. Metadata & Renaming

The images have metadata added to them to include your event details, location and photographers’ details. The files are then renamed so they can be found and catalogued properly. A photo with a file name of ABC_Conference_Day1_Session2 is much more useful than IMG_9493.

Step 3. White Balance, Exposure & Colour Correction and Cropping

Ever wondered why speakers at a lectern appear very yellow? Because your photographer hasn’t adjusted their white balance to suit the lighting conditions. In most cases these photographers are providing images Straight Out Of Camera (SOOC) and the images aren’t given a second though.

Step 4. Additional Adjustments

Hero images are key to any event. Those few images that stick out from the rest just pops out and sometimes a little extra editing really makes them pop.

Step 5. Exporting to Jpeg

To make the most of your awesome, edited images you need them in a format that most of us are use to, so they are converted to JPG files, in both high resolution for print and web resolution for web.

Step 6. Backup & Delivery

The completed images are then backed up again because there is nothing worse then having to edit hundreds of images all over again (oh yes, it has happened before).

Why do photographers charge an additional fee for onsite processing or an express turnaround?

Imagine covering an awards night from 6pm and finished at midnight. As you go pack up your shoes off the dance floor and head home to bed the photographer goes to his computer and has to go through steps 1 to 6 with a minimum of 3 hours editing. He or she will be up till the wee hours of the morning processing those images and getting them ready to deliver to your “8am delivery”. Some cases, photographers will hire photo editors to process their images and to get somebody to work those late hours requires some sort of additional payment.

Your best option to keep within budget would to only request certain hero images. Images that you may use for PR/Media and have them uploaded or emailed to you. This would allow you to have the images in a timely manner and keep your photography budget on track.