What to do when a client asks to see all photos taken during their session

It is common for clients to not understand your business process or why you do what you do.  

The fact that they heard your shutter click hundreds of times but only have 50 or so photos in their gallery can be quite confusing (of course more for wedding photographers).  

Pleasing your customer is very important but showing less than quality images per their request is just down right disastrous. Your client galleries should show nothing but stellar examples of who you are as a photographer and as a company.  

But how do you handle the request?  Simple, education and strong conviction is a must.  


Educating the your clients on your standards & process

Develop a Photo Session Care Card or What To Expect document which you can send to your clients prior to their session.  This document should include common FAQ's and also a summary of what they will see when its time to view their photos.  

Answering questions before they arise can save you a ton of time going over something later that your client feels they were "cheated out of" such as seeing EVERY image taken from their session or not receiving the RAW copies, which many customers now ask for.  


When should you send this type of document to your clients?

Educating a client prior to their session is essential to ensure they are not disappointed later.  If a client understands your process and why you have it in place they are less likely to feel cheated out of something they did not receive. In our What To Expect document we explain why we take more photos than a customer sees and what they should expect in their client gallery on the day of viewing.

Even at the beginning of a session its great to go over some things they can expect to happen.  This is a perfect time to let your client know that they will hear your shutter click more times than you will have photos of.  Describe that this happens because you are checking your lightening, taking multiple photos in case of blinking and also to see if a pose plays out on camera the way you see it in life.

 All things aside, not every photo will make the cut.  Over explaining this is always helpful in business because your client will feel you are doing it for their good and because you care about quality.  


How to handle a customer that makes a request to see all pictures taken even though you have stated your process

Sending formal written responses to these types of requests is very important for documentation purposes.  Be clear on your process, remind them to review the What To Expect document and ensure you are straight forward without being rude or insensitive.  Here is an example of a professional response to a common request from clients to see all images taken from their session.  


I am so happy to have photographed your beautiful _______ session and know you must be over the moon to see anything that came out of my camera that day.  However beautiful they are, there are always those shots that are less than perfect due to blinking, off colors or other situations out of our control.  It is our process to only show what is of highest quality and we take more photos to ensure that we can provide you with a large amount of these.  It is not our process to show any images other than those that were chosen as finest quality. This is our strict process. Trust me when I tell you that those chosen were done with care and consideration.  Doing business with high standards is our mission. I am sure you can appreciate the great care taken to showcase your special day in this manner.


Why you would NOT show all images from a session

Client galleries are a display of your talent and professional level.  What you show your clients will leave a lasting impression.  Giving them anything less than your best will make them feel you are all over the board.  Now of course many of the outtakes we have from a session are out of our control such as blinking or unexpected photo bombs but still a client sees this as our work.  

A gallery review is much like a job interview.  You are showing your client what you have as far as talent and quality.  If you go into a job interview and tell them all the times you made a mistake won't that stand out in their mind later when they are deciding if you are right for the job?  Display yourself and your work with pride and care.   In conclusion, having a business process is pertinent and standing firm on it is without question imperative.   You can not run a business being too soft and giving in on things that have valuable reason behind them such as standards and quality, which is the case here.


  • Ray

    If a client asks that you delete pictures of them in a maternity shoot, where they are concealing their intimate areas with their hands, do you have to? Or is saying that no one else will see them a suffiencient response.

    The client has not signed anything, but is extremely upset, and states that she is worried as she has not signed anything.

  • Stacie Jensen

    Hi Ray, I’m a firm believer in your clients happiness & comfort level trumping everything. It’s how you get good word of mouth. If she is uncomfortable with the photos I would certainly let her know that you will delete them. This will give her the relief she is looking for and make her feel like you are someone she can trust which then leads to referrals.

  • Krystal

    While I’ve run into this several times… I keep forgetting to mention it in my first F2F and what to expects.
    Thank you for the reminder. :)

  • Claire Falco

    I’ve awkwardly dealt with these requests before, but I realize now I guard against it every step of the process.

    I haven’t heard anything since I put a clause in my contract that I select the images at my discretion and how many images I am contractually obligated to provide (20).

    When people would ask me before I just explained that I only give the best images because it represents my work and my business.

    At the end of each session while we are heading back to our cars or what have you I bring it up in terms of what they can expect. I work it in gently and conversationally like, “I am excited to go through these! We took like 700 pictures, but I’ll prune it down to the best 50 or so that you can choose from.”

    I actually do a soft online proofing. I put up 50-75 images after all my batch editing is done. I seriously gut myself culling through. In camera, I delete every single picture that is out of focus, a duplicate, or otherwise not up my my standards. If they wanted those bad RAW images they don’t even exist anymore. I only leave what I would feel comfortable putting my name on. They choose 10-20 depending on the kind of session and then I always tell them they can choose more if they would like. Most clients choose an extra 10-15, I make more money, and they have some ownership over the pictures I edit.

  • Stacie Jensen

    I love this advice Claire & I know that this will really help others. Thank you for taking the time to explain your process. Maybe we could revamp a blog post about your experience for our viewers? Would you be interested in this?

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