Why a Professional Photographer will not give you all unedited images on USB

Why a Professional Photographer will not give you all unedited images on USB.

Why a Professional Photographer will not give you all unedited images on USB?

Have you ever wondered why a Professional Photographer will not give you all unedited images on USB?

This is something that can be an issue with any type of photography, but often comes to the surface with Wedding Photography.

This is something asked of us many times.

As a client you may be thinking, we have paid for our wedding photography, we own everything taken on that day?

You may also be thinking you do not need the images to be edited?

You have seen the photographers work and it looks great as it is.

You may also be thinking you are not ‘fussy’ so unedited ones will be fine.


Two Issues: Unedited Images and All Images

So there are two issues here.

  1. Unedited Images – no professional photographer puts out images that are unedited, ok I cant speak for everyone, but I would bet my camera’s that very few do. Even if its just a case of adjusting the brightness, colours etc. Most of the images we see everywhere nowadays have been edited, so it lulls us into a false sense of ‘this is how the images looks straight out of camera’. Any artist (and yes photography is also an art) wants to present their images in their best light, so regardless of your feelings about the images looking ‘fine’, most artist would not want their work in any other place than on their personal hard drive, before it is edited.
  2. All images on a USB – All images of any event very rarely given, one very simple reason is that each job is priced on the time spent on the shoot as well as time spent editing afterwards. A professional photographer will have factored in time for all the images to tell the story. If there are 20 of the same scene, they will choose the best ones to edit, as part of your story.

Telling the story

Asking for all unedited images is like asking you to present a report to your Director at work, in all versions, with the mistakes, paragraphs you deleted, wording that you decided against and the bits that your colleagues told you were just a no no.


Each Wedding Photographer has a process in taking images, putting together to best ones and telling your story. Think about the last film you watched that you were engrossed in. What was great about the film? what captured your attention? Now imagine that instead of the watching the completed film, you get to see the version with the numerous takes of each scene, the ones that didn’t make it, the ones where the actors messed up lines, where the lighting was off, where the camera shook, where the audio guy didn’t get the boom arm microwave close enough. The film would probably look very different, and would not have captured your attention in the same way. In fact it could end up quite boring.

This is what you pay a professional wedding photographer to do. To create your story. To capture everything needed to tell it. To take out all the ‘out-takes’. To put it together as a completed piece of work. If this is done properly, you will remember your wedding day as a picture of perfection!


You need not see the poses where your eyes were half closed, and you look partly as though you were falling sleep on your big day. The poses that show a bit too much or the arms you were never comfortable with, or where the flash did not fire.


Photographers also take many more images than they need in every scenario. So while your finished album for example may have two beautiful images of you smiling away while you are walking down the aisle, they would have carefully been chosen from many more.

An example of one of our wedding album designs

Seeing two images from the same set will give you the wow factor, imagine seeing 50, a millisecond apart from each other, by the time you got to the 20th, that feeling would be very different.

We are not the only ones to say this.

Here are a few other articles saying the exact same thing.

Why Wedding Photographers do no give unedited images.

Why photographers do not give all files

Ownership of Images

Many people are very wrongly informed about the ownership of images. An artist still owns the copyright for all of the images that they have created. Even if the images feature you, and your event. Most Photographers will supply your wedding images with what is called a ‘Licence to Reproduce’ The British Institute of Portrait Photographers give a nice explanation here. So you can still print and use them, but they will still be owned by the photographer.

So before you take to social media to rubbish your photographer, sometimes we act out of sincere ignorance.

That being said, of course you will find SOME photographers that will offer you all of that, and more.