Workflow for Wedding Photography
Every photographer has their own post-processing speed and style, and most will have their own aesthetic or editing programmes they prefer to use. However, after five years of running a busy wedding photography studio, I’ve developed an efficient workflow that works well while giving images a personal aesthetic. In this article, you’ll learn how to use an efficient workflow to deliver the final product to your clients after the wedding day.
As you revise your photographer workflow, keep in mind that the whole point of having workflows is to improve speed by implementing consistent and repeatable systems. That is why we have compiled the best photography workflow tips to assist you in getting back on track with your business.
Examine for Updates
During busy seasons, software tools are routinely updated. Updating software in the middle of the year can have unanticipated consequences. Finally, the time has come. Check with your partner vendors to see what updates you missed while you were busy caring for clients to ensure your workflows are optimised for maximum performance. Then, make the adjustments that are appropriate for your unique photography business.
Search for bottlenecks.
What was preventing work from moving forwards smoothly when it piled up in the midst of wedding season? By identifying (and then removing) bottlenecks in your workflows, you can do your best to ensure that work does not pile up next season.
Eliminate Extra Steps
It is easy for teams to become engrossed in unnecessary photography workflow steps. When you are not the only one in charge of carrying out your workflow tasks, it is easy to waste time and effort. For example, you may find yourself passing images back and forth when a single hand-off is sufficient. Duplicate steps may not appear to be a big deal. However, when you’re in the thick of the holiday season, every minute counts.
Duplicate steps are removed from your workflows, increasing the amount of time you have available to work on the tasks that require your attention.
Are you ready to begin updating your workflows? The time has come. Because you did, you (and your clients) will be much happier during the next busy season.
Yes! As soon as you get home from the wedding, back them up. Then backup them again. That should go without saying, but those wedding photography files are priceless to your clients. Back up your images as soon as possible to save yourself the headache and your clients the heartache of losing them.
You may have shot for eight or more hours, but don’t crawl into that sweet, comfy bed just yet – your night isn’t over. You must back up your client’s images as soon as possible in multiple locations. Your client paid a lot of money not only for your time and expertise, but also for the security of their images. No naps allowed until their images are safely backed up in multiple locations! Back those things up so you don’t have to learn the hard way.
Create a folder on your computer with the client’s name and a subfolder called “RAWS” (assuming you shoot in RAW, which you should). (More on this later.) You must copy the images from all of your memory cards into your computer’s new “RAWS” folder.
Note: RAW files are large, so you’ll probably need to increase your computer’s storage space and get some more RAM while you’re at it in order to run your computer programmes efficiently. If you’re using a Mac, make sure your computer is also set to backup.
Make a duplicate
Once all of the files are on your computer, back them up to an external hard drive in a client folder. When not in use, the external hard drive should be stored safely in a location such as a fireproof safe. Some photographers keep backups on multiple external hard drives.
Finally, when you don’t think you can stay awake another second longer, begin backing up your RAW File to an online or cloud location. The good news is… You can sleep while the files upload overnight and possibly for the next few days if your internet connection is slow.
Importing and Filtering
Not the most exciting aspect of your job!
Begin by sorting your photos by lens. This is the quickest method for determining which images to keep. You can do this in the Library Module by selecting Metadata (or pressing the / key) and then selecting the lens you want to cull. Rate your images based on what you want to keep (hit P for picks or keepers) and what you want to throw away (hit X for rejects). Repeat the rating process for each lens, and when you’re done, filter by “all lenses” in the Library module to see the images all at once. Then, in the Library module, do a second (or third) round of culling until you have your final number.
Culling Images Should Be Done With Caution
Try to show your client the best 600-800 images from the wedding day. Not the 3,000 photographs you took. They don’t need images where they’re blinking or the lighting isn’t quite right. They don’t require five duplicates of the same pose. Clients want all of the best photos. Don’t remove entire sections of the wedding, but be selective with the photos you show your clients. Also, when attending a wedding, be selective in your photography. Try to be deliberate with your shots, and keep in mind not to overshoot.
The most tedious, eye-bleeding part of your job is culling, or going through every image you took of a wedding, rating them, and deciding which to keep and which to trash. This is why it’s not a good idea to “spray and pray” with your cameras throughout a wedding day. The more selective you are with your photography, the quicker your post-wedding workflow will be. Alternatively, if your budget allows, you can hire a company to cull your images for you.
After backing up the photos, the next step in my wedding workflow was to go through and cull all of them. This means you’ll remove any duplicates, blurry or bad shots, or anything else you don’t want to send to your client. Vines of the Yarra Valley has compiled a list of the Best Photographers in Melbourne to assist you in deciding who will capture your magical day.
Make a note of your favourite photos.
Following the culling of the photos, the next step in my wedding workflow was to go through and award a third star to your “favourite” photos.
This is where the magic takes place!
You now have a final number of culled images and can begin basic Lightroom edits. Cropping, straightening, and exposure, contrast, shadow, and highlight adjustments, among other things, come into play here. This is a very personal part for each photographer, and it is here that your style begins to emerge. This is also why shooting in RAW is so important, as you will have more editing options than with a JPG. Many photographers will stop after this step, which is fine if you are satisfied with the outcome! However, there are a few more steps involved if you want to push your images even further.
Quick hint! If you have a series of photos taken with the same camera in the same lighting situation, edit the first photo in the set, then select the rest of the photos that match, and then press the “Sync” button to apply your edit to all of the photos in that set at once.
After the basic edits are complete, many photographers will polish their images (a.k.a. colour tone) with a preset. Lightroom presets are available for purchase from a variety of online vendors, or you can create your own.
Using Photoshop to Retouch Your Images
After you’ve completed all of your basic edits and colour toning, select the images that require Photoshop retouching by filtering for 3-star rated images. Retouching can include removing acne, stray hairs, swapping heads, and removing distracting objects from an image. On a Mac, you can open your image in Photoshop by pressing command+E (Window is Control+E) in Lightroom. After you’ve finished retouching, press CMD/CTRL+S (or File>Save) to return your retouched image to Lightroom.
Images in Black and White
This is the quickest part of the post-production process. Many wedding photographers offer a combination of colour and black and white photos, as well as colour versions of each black and white.
It’s easiest if you already have a favourite black and white preset saved, then apply it to all images, then deselect all. Edit and ensure that each black and white image is perfect by going through each image individually and using the colour sliders (especially the reds and yellows).
Return all black-and-white images to Lightroom, where the edited colour and black-and-white versions will be side by side.
Black and white images can also be created in Lightroom by selecting Photo>Create Virtual Copy (or CMD/CTRL+’). Then, in your Basic Edits box, choose “Black and White” and fine-tune the colour sliders until they’re just right.
The Home Stretch is being exported!
Hooray! All of your images have been backed up, culled, edited, polished, and retouched, and black and white copies have been made. You only need to export the final versions to your client’s folder on your computer (create a folder called “Edited” if necessary).
In Lightroom, select all of your completed images and then go to File>Export. Choose your file location, file name, and file settings, and then click the export button when you’re finished.
Importing to a Client Gallery Online
Once you’ve exported all of your high-resolution JPGs to your computer’s Edited client folder, you can upload them to your prefered online gallery. Some online galleries allow you to use a plugin to upload your high-resolution JPGs directly from Lightroom, allowing you to skip a step in the process.
Copy your final edits to your external hard drive in their client folder after uploading your images to an online gallery. You can delete the RAW files from your computer once your edited files are safe online and on an external hard drive because they take up a lot of space and you have them safely backed up online and to an external hard drive (or two). If you want to use that Lightroom catalogue again, you can easily sync the RAW files on your external hard drive with the Lightroom catalogue on your computer. I keep the edited JPGs on my computer for ease of access.
Schedule and publish social media posts
Once the 3-star photos (no more than 50) were edited, I’d choose my favourites (yes, favourites of favourites) and schedule them to post to my social media accounts throughout the week.
Doing this throughout the week following my clients’ wedding day helped build excitement while the event was still fresh in everyone’s mind—and is one of the most important aspects of a post-wedding workflow!
Blogging Storyboard Tool
Blogging is a critical component of running a successful photography business. Readers want to return to your site on a regular basis to see new content. Using the Photoshop plugin StoryBoard by Code and Hustle to create blog posts has saved me a lot of time.
Workflow Apps for Photographers
As previously stated, your photography workflow must run smoothly in order for your business to be efficient. With technology constantly improving, a plethora of apps are being developed to assist professional wedding photographers in maintaining a streamlined workflow. We’ve compiled a list of five workflow apps to help you speed up your daily workflow and grow your photography business.
You do not always work a 9-5 shift as a wedding photographer. If you schedule a meeting with a vendor in the morning and then book a shoot in the evening, you may not be able to respond to emails until later that night. Rather than sending emails at 11 pm, use Boomerang to schedule them to send whenever you want.
Emails can be written at your leisure and sent later by clicking the “Send Later” button. This enables you to choose when you want to send emails. By scheduling emails to be sent during normal business hours, you can manage clients’ and vendors’ expectations, so they don’t expect you to respond to emails after hours.
You can take your photos and documents with you wherever you go with Dropbox. Any files you upload to it will be saved to all of your devices automatically. This means that if you’re on the go and need to access images, you can do so using your mobile device.
You can also make your own folders. After a wedding, you can use these folders to organise your images and share specific folders with vendors. Vendors can access and view all of the images you chose to share with them from this page.
Keeping up with social media can be difficult, especially on weekends when you are shooting weddings. Hootsuite allows you to schedule Tweets, Facebook posts, and other social media updates from a single platform.
Rather than posting about a blog post when you finish it at 9 p.m., you can use Hootsuite to schedule a post at a time when you know your followers are online. You can plan out your entire week or month with the ability to schedule multiple posts.
Evernote is an organisational tool that allows you to keep all of your client notes in one place. You can create a notebook for each client in this app. Make individual notes in each notebook for each meeting and interaction you have with that client. This is a simple way to stay organised, and your notes can be synced across all of your devices.
An out-of-focus image of a woman’s mustard yellow sweater and hands as she types on a laptop in front of her.
Asana is a great app to incorporate into your workflow as a project management software that helps you keep track of each task you have. You can create unique projects for each client, including all of the specific items you must complete, as well as the due dates for each task.
Each task in Asana can be assigned to a different person. As a result, if you work with a photography team or specialists, this is an excellent tool. The simple interface allows you to see a quick overview of all your current tasks as well as who you assigned each task to.
Each photographer’s workflow process will take a different amount of time. I require 4-5 full days of nearly uninterrupted work for myself. Photographers, like everyone else, are human beings. Life and other weddings/shoots in between – depending on how busy your season is, how many photos you have, and how much retouching is required, delivery time can take weeks or months after the event. Keep in mind that you may need to mail prints, albums, USB drives, and other items, so factor that into your total post-production time. Looking for Melbourne’s Best Photographers? We’ve compiled a list of some of Melbourne’s best photographers to capture your special day.
After a lot of practise and getting to know your own style, you’ll notice that your post-processing time will get shorter and shorter. If you’re fortunate enough to find a post-processing company that fits your style and budget, you’ll have more time in life to pursue your passions, such as photography. Get to work, until then!