Do Wedding Photographers Give You All of the Photos?

Aug 15, 2023 | Wedding Wisdom

Can You Ask a Wedding Photographer for All Unedited Photos?

When it comes to capturing your special day, wedding photographers play a vital role in preserving those precious moments that you’ll cherish for a lifetime. Their expertise lies not only in their ability to capture stunning images but also in their post-production skills that enhance and refine unedited wedding photos to perfection.

However, you may find yourself wondering if it’s possible to obtain all of the unedited photos from your wedding day. In this wisdom post, we will delve into the topic and provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision. Many photographers (including ourselves) do not offer their couples unedited wedding photos. This article will hopefully explain the reasons behind this decision. We have broken it all down for you to make it easier to read:


What Are RAW Wedding Images?

Image Curation and Storytelling

The Number of RAW Images

The Creative Process

Collaboration and Trust


The Importance of Editing

The Artistic Vision

Professional Standards And Integrity

Technology and Knowledge

Conclusions and Answers

But first, we need to look at what unedited or RAW wedding photographs actually are, so that you know what you are actually asking for, it may not be as clear as you think.

What Are RAW/ Unedited Wedding Photos?

Unedited wedding photos, also known as RAW images, are the untouched and unprocessed photographs captured by a camera. They retain all the original data and information captured by the image sensor, without any compression or processing. Similar to a film negative, RAW files require specific professional software to view and edit and give a photographer complete control over how the images are developed. Wedding photographers will capture thousands of RAW images throughout the duration of a wedding day.

It’s important to note that unedited wedding photos/ RAW files are much larger in size compared to normal JPEG images, allowing for greater flexibility in post-processing. Shooting in RAW empowers wedding photographers to unleash their creativity and achieve stunning results. You can find more information on RAW image files here.

You can see the difference below of a RAW file (straight out of the camera) and a simple edit:

RAW unedited wedding photosEdited processed wedding photograph

The Importance of Editing Wedding Photos

Before we explore the possibility of obtaining unedited wedding photos, let’s first understand the significance of the editing process. Wedding photographers employ their artistic vision, technical expertise, and years of experience to enhance each image captured during your special day. They use specific professional software to do so that can also take years of experience and training to perfect. Through post-production editing, they add a touch of magic to your photos by adjusting lighting, color balance, cropping, and other elements to create a cohesive and stunning collection of images. All of the images on our wedding blog posts and our wedding photography gallery are fully edited.

A generally accepted estimate amongst some of the best wedding photographers in the world is that every hour spent at a wedding involves nine hours working outside of the wedding day. The majority of this time is spent curating and working on unedited wedding photos.


Super Fast Editing Timelapse

As an example we recorded 60 hours of editing over a 2 month period, from start to finish. In order to fit the video into just over a minute we had to increase the speed 260,000 times!

Warning – it’s pretty intense and includes flashing images

Image Curation and Storytelling

When a wedding photographer captures your special day, they are not just taking random snapshots. They are carefully curating a collection of images that tell the unique story of your wedding. From the candid moments to the grand gestures, each photo is thoughtfully selected to create a cohesive narrative. The images should both work together as part of a beautiful story and stand alone as pieces of artwork in their own right

By requesting unedited wedding photos or raw photographs, you may unintentionally disrupt this storytelling process. The beauty of professional wedding photography lies not only in the ability to capture the essence of each moment but curate the images in an evocate way. Remember a photographer’s storytelling skills should be a large part of your reasoning behind initially hiring their services.

designer wedding dress reflected in hindu stitched artwork
bride checks her wedding hair styling in the mirror
bride and her mother reach for white lace wedding dress hanging in studland bay house bridal suite
bride in white wedding dress descends staircase at studland bay house wedding photographs

The Artistic Vision

Wedding photographers, like any other artist, possess a unique style and creative vision that sets them apart. Their editing process is an integral part of their artistic expression, allowing them to showcase their signature style in the final images they deliver to their clients. By making informed, experienced and thoughtful decisions during editing, photographers can bring out the emotions, details, and atmosphere captured in each photograph, resulting in a narrative that narrates the story of your wedding day.


matted wedding photography album example

The Number of Unedited Wedding Photos

Choosing a wedding photographer should be based on more than just the quantity of images they provide. It’s about their photography skills, service, and ability to tell a captivating story. Receiving unedited photos can also be extremely overwhelming for a bride and groom. Professional photographers can take tens of thousands of shots during a wedding. Sorting through these images, selecting the best, and curating them as a beautiful narrative is part of their artistic process.

Our Experiment


Several years ago we contacted all of our couples from an entire year’s weddings. We presented them with prints from all of their unedited wedding photographs and asked them to sort through them and  answer three important questions:

1) What is the minimum number of photographs needed to beautifully capture the entire story of your wedding day without feeling any moments were missed?

2) What is the maximum number of images you feel comfortable with, without feeling overwhelmed or rushed to look through them all, while still telling the complete story of your wedding?

3) What is the ideal balance between these two factors? In other words, how many images would perfectly portray the story of your special day without feeling like you have too few or too many?

Before delving into the answers, it’s worth mentioning that my colleague Murray and I work together as a duo without time constraints. It is not uncommon for us to begin capturing moments from the early morning preparations through the winding down of evening celebrations. Furthermore, my background in psychology allows me to approach this experiment with an open mind, acknowledging that it is not a scientifically rigorous study

Even before we had the answers to our 3 questions we found out some interesting information:

  • Looking through wedding photographs takes a considerable amount of time for couples.
  • Selecting the maximum number of images and reviewing them in the context of a coherent storyline is also a lengthy process. For instance, imagine having to look at 5000 images, spending just 5 seconds on each one. It would take nearly seven hours to browse through them all!
  • Our couples found such a large pile of printed images incredibly daunting.
  • They really didn’t like the RAW images vs the processed version of those they had already seen.
  • Only one of our couples possessed an accurate knowledge of what RAW images are.
  • The majority of couples provided similar answers to our questions.
  • All couples commented on the difficulty of selecting images to deliver, acknowledging that it would take them an extremely extended period to make choices.

Approaching our experiment with an open mind, we found the following enlightening answers:

1) On average, our couples felt that a minimum of 250-300 photographs were required to tell the full story of their wedding day

2) The maximum number of images ranged from 500 to 900, depending on individual comfort levels.

3) The ideal number of images varied between 300 and 700, as couples sought a balance between capturing all the essential moments without overwhelming themselves.

pile of wedding photographs printed on coffee table


Considering these insights, we decided on an average number of images to deliver from a complete wedding day. Our goal is not to inundate clients with thousands of raw images, as this would not only be impractical for us but also overwhelming for the couples themselves.

The Creative Process

The creative process of a wedding photographer extends beyond the act of taking photos; it encompasses the entire journey, from getting to know a couple and capturing the initial images to the final edited masterpieces. The editing process is a crucial part of this creative journey, as it allows photographers to refine their work, highlight the most captivating moments, and add their artistic touch. By requesting unedited wedding photos, you may miss out on the unique perspective and artistic choices that make your wedding photos truly extraordinary.

Professional Standards And Integrity

It’s essential to understand that professional wedding photographers have set standards in place for the photographs they deliver to their clients. These standards are not merely in the quality of their service but include the editing process, ensuring that the final images meet the expectations and quality that the photographer is known for. By providing clients with their meticulously edited photos, photographers maintain their professional reputation and uphold the value they bring to their craft.


When you hire a professional wedding photographer, you entrust them with the responsibility of capturing the essence of your special day. By delivering edited photos, photographers ensure that the integrity of their work remains intact. The carefully selected and enhanced images are a reflection of their skill and commitment to crafting a visual story that encapsulates the emotions and memories shared during your wedding celebration.

Delivering a folder of unedited images may negate such integrity. By definition ‘all unedited images’ as well as your amazing emotive images will include misfires, out-of-focus images, uncomplimentary angles, light and flash testing shots, unflattering lighting, and passionless moments. With that in mind, they can be a ‘less than dreamy look’ at your wedding day.

Collaboration and Trust

Building a strong rapport with your wedding photographer is key to achieving the best possible outcome. It’s important to establish trust and open communication, allowing your photographer to understand your vision and preferences. Expressing your desires during the initial consultation and discussing the level of editing you prefer can help align expectations and ensure you receive a collection of images that truly reflect your personality and style.

trusting relationship betwewen happy relaxed bride and wedding photographer

Technology and Knowledge

When it comes to working with RAW photographs, it takes a blend of advanced technology, powerful software (and hardware), extensive experience, and expert knowledge.  To view and work with unedited wedding photographs effectively, photographers rely on cutting-edge technology and software that can handle the large file sizes and intricate data. Additionally, years of experience and knowledge are essential to understanding the nuances of RAW editing.


screenshot of working on Unedited Wedding Photos with professional software


RAW images are significantly larger than JPEGs, sometimes two to seven times larger. So, the question arises: would you prefer having 500 captivating JPEGs that take up less than 8GB or 5000 tedious RAW files that demand a whopping 150GB of storage?

Should you possess the necessary software and hardware, converting RAW files to more user-friendly formats, such as JPEGs, is a viable option. However, it’s important to note that straight conversions from unedited wedding photos eliminate the essence of what makes a photograph truly mesmerizing, as they offer a rather lackluster representation of the image’s full potential.

So Do Wedding Photographers Give You All of the Unedited Photographs?

It should be clear from researching, meeting, or reading a wedding photographer’s terms and conditions whether they offer access to RAW/unedited wedding photos.

When it comes to offering unedited wedding photos to clients, different photographers provide varying options. Many photographers do not offer them at all, while some provide them as an additional service at extra costs. Only a very few include them with the processed images as standard. Their options should be guided by their years of experience and working knowledge of all of the above points. Remember, whatever it is this choice reflects the photographer’s thoughts on the matter, ensuring transparency and clarity for clients.

RAW Unedited Wedding Photograph of Bride and groom with sunfare and low sun in stately home gardensEdited Wedding Photograph of Bride and groom with sunfare and low sun in stately home gardens


So Should You Ask a Wedding Photographer for All Unedited Photos?

In conclusion, while it may be tempting to request unedited wedding photos from your wedding photographer, it’s crucial to recognize the value and significance of the editing process. By entrusting your photographer to select and enhance the best moments captured during your special day, you allow them to showcase their unique artistic vision and deliver a collection of images that accurately represent the emotions and memories shared.

Remember, collaboration and trust are key ingredients in capturing the essence of your wedding day through the lens of a talented and experienced wedding photographer.


For More Information or To Check Our Availability


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one thousand words Photographers Dorset wedding photographers

Tom Wishart & Murray Lambert

Documentary Wedding Photographers In Dorset & Hampshire

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