What Happens After The Photo Shoot: An Inside Look at Post Production

Capturing a photo shoot is only half of a photographer’s job. The other half happens behind the scenes in a process known as post production. But what does “post production” mean? It refers to all of the work that happens after a photo shoot, including:

  • Making backups
  • Culling the photos
  • Sending photo proofs
  • Making edits and touchups
  • And, finally, delivering the finished product

Before digital cameras, the editing process would consist of processing film negatives in a darkroom. Nowadays, the photo files are edited on a computer with software like Lightroom, Capture One, or Photoshop. Let’s explore the post production process in more detail. 

The Post Production Process

Backup the RAW Photos

Most photographers shoot in RAW image format, which is a large file that contains uncompressed and unprocessed image data, which allows for the highest quality in the finished photos. These RAW files are similar to the negatives in film photography. Without them, all of the hard work in the photo shoot would be lost!

Any photographer worth their salt will immediately make backup copies of your photos after a shoot. Some may keep two or three backup hard drives to ensure that the photos are never lost.

Send Over the Photo Proofs

After an initial culling of the images, the photographer will send photo proofs to the client. What are photo proofs, you ask?

Photo proofs are the images taken by a photographer during the photo shoot, which are provided to the client for selection and review. These proofs are usually unedited and are meant to give the client an idea of the range of photos taken during the shoot.

Photo proofs are typically provided in an online digital gallery, although they may also be provided as printed images. Clients can review the proofs and select the images they wish to have edited and delivered as final prints or digital files.

Final Edits

Once the client has chosen their favorite photos, it’s time for the photographer to make the final edits. This is when they will go in depth to perform touch ups, crop images, and make other adjustments.


This is the most exciting part of the process! The finished photos will usually arrive in an online gallery or on an SD card, depending on the amount of photos.

How Long After a Photo Shoot Do You Receive Your Photos?

In general, most photographers will have the edited photos to you within 4 to 6 weeks. This can vary depending on the amount of photos, as a wedding will take much longer to edit than a few business headshots. In fact, a wedding gallery may take a few months to deliver, while a set of corporate portraits could be delivered within one week.

Make sure to inquire about expected turnaround time with your photographer before the shoot. Most professional photographers will be happy to set clear expectations with you and — most importantly — meet those expectations.

Are you ready to work with a first-class commercial photographer? Contact Daniel Motta Photography to explore how we can help you with headshots, events, advertising, and other premier photography services.