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As you are shopping around for a family photographer, you may encounter photographers who only show clients a selection of images from the photo shoot.

I recently wrote a blog post inspired by an email reply I sent to a prospective client. I wrote to address a mom’s concern about her newborn photographer retaining copyright of the images from their photo shoot. In the same inquiry email, the mother also expressed dismay that the photographer wasn’t going to show her every single image from their session.

Read the 2nd half of my email below, explaining the rationale for only showing clients a selection of images.

Why would a photographer not show the client every image they took?

CLIENT: It’s kind of unsatisfactory for the price point, with the photographer owning the photography copyright and delivering only a handful of (very expensive) photos out of probably several hundred I assume will be snapped—and we don’t get to see what doesn’t make her cut.

Baby boy on hands and knees on his parents' bed.

Hiring Professional Photographers For Their Expertise

ME: As for delivering only a handful of images, that too is industry standard. I assure your that, as experienced professionals, they are not trying to hide anything. They are using their expertise to edit down to the absolute best. These are the images that are suitable to be printed or used to create an album. Remember, the client is hiring a professional photographer for that expertise.

 

Reasons for Culling Images

A professional photographer culls images from their final edit for a variety of reasons. The subject in the image may not have a flattering expression. An image might not be as sharp and in focus as the one taken before or after. Maybe the angle wasn’t quite right. One thing is certain thought—the photographer would NOT be leaving the best photos on the cutting room floor. As the professional artist, the photographer is the one who can best make those judgements.
 
I understand how you feel about wanting to see the images that don’t make the final cut. My own clients who had previously worked with other photographers reported that they found the whole process pretty overwhelming. And they said it was precisely because the photographer showed them too many images. The large number of photos made the decision-making process of selecting favorites long and difficult. In the end, they ended up not getting any of the images printed and not getting an album.
 
Girl standing in front of a barn door.

Helping Clients Avoid Decision Paralysis

When those clients then came to me, they had a much more pleasant and easy experience. I use my vast photo editing experience to show my clients only the best images. Then I help them through the whole decision-making process to design and create something specifically for what they told me they wanted during our planning meeting before the photo session. Maybe they said they were interested in one statement piece of wall art. Perhaps they liked the idea of having a beautiful album. They were not left trying to figure it all out on their own.
 
Yawning newborn baby boy wrapped in a swaddle
 

Photo Sessions Worth the Investment

 I don’t know the other photographer’s pricing, but this type of custom photo session is an investment. The prices are probably in a similar ballpark to my own. My business is low-volume with a boutique feel. I structured my pricing so that I can spend plenty of one-on-one time with each client without worrying about profitability. By giving my clients this level of personalized attention, I can ensure the finished products are exactly what they envisioned (or better!). And I know they will be thrilled with the outcome.
 
Whew! That was long, but I hope that helps explain all of the issues. I’d be happy to chat with you if you’d like to learn more about my services, but if this is all similar to the other photographer, I would encourage you to reconsider and to hire them.
 
Baby girl with finger in her mouth siting on her parents bed.

Julie Kubal family portraits Washington D.C.About the Photographer and Author:

Julie Kubal is a child and family portrait artist and photographer serving Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. She is passionate about creating warm and meaningful artwork through modern portraits and lifestyle photography at a location of your choice!