How Long Should It Take To Get Headshots Back From A Photographer After A Photo Shoot

It often takes longer than you think it should to get your photos back after a photography session.  The reason for this is because there’s a lot of work the photographer must do to your photos before they are ready for a client.

For headshots, use these timelines as a rule of thumb:

Proofs: 1-2 business days

Retouched headshots: 1-2 weeks

It’s easy to think that the turnaround should only be a day or two.  “Hey, why can’t the photographer just upload the pictures to his or her computer and deliver them?”

Well, it’s not so simple.  First, the files must be uploaded from a memory card and imported into a file management program such as Lightroom.  Unless the computer is very fast, this process alone can be slow.  Once imported, photos must be culled. After culling the photos must be exported as proofs and uploaded to a proofing website.  Once the client has made their selections, the images must be imported into Photoshop to be retouched.  Retouching for headshots can take anywhere from 10-60 minutes per image.  Photographers are not robots, and must take regular breaks between retouching images. After all the images are retouching and imported back into Lightroom for final adjustment, cropping, and exporting.  The files must once again be uploaded and delivered to the client.

While this may still seems like a straightforward process, and it usually is, keep in mind that your friendly photographer is wearing many hats in the work they do to be a professional photographer.  They are the photographer, the retoucher, the marketer, the studio manager, the accountant, the producer, and the client coordinator.  The lifestyle is taxing.  The more clients a photographer takes on, the more each of those areas of the photographer’s business get stretched.

So the next time it’s been a week or two since your photo shoot, and you still haven’t seen your finished photos, understand that your photographer is doing doing a lot behind the scenes.