How to Stay Ahead in Your Wedding Photography Workflow?

Workflow 1

You may have spent months planning a wedding with your client. After countless emails, meetings, and the actual wedding day itself, it’s time for the lengthiest part of your work to begin, the post-processing. Your wedding photography workflow is the part of the job that clients never see (and most never think about) after the event is over. Post-processing for digital photography starts when you return to your home or office until the clients receive their final images. Check out our extensive list of Wedding Photographers in Melbourne to help capture your special moments.

Wedding Photography Workflow

Every photographer has their speed and style to post-processing, and most will have their own aesthetic or editing programs they prefer to use. However, after owning a busy wedding photography studio for the past five years, I have created an efficient workflow that works well while giving images a personal aesthetic. In this article, you’ll find what to do after the wedding day is over to deliver the final product to your clients using an efficient workflow.

As you revise your photographer workflow, remember the reason for having workflows in the first place is to improve speed by implementing consistent and repeatable systems. That is why we put together the best photography workflow tips to help you get back on track in your business.

Check for Updates

Software tools get updated routinely during busy seasons. Updating software during mid-year can lead to unexpected consequences. Now is finally the time. To ensure your workflows are optimized for best performance, check with your partner vendors to see what updates you missed while you were busy caring for clients. Then make the changes that make sense for your unique photography business.

Look for Bottlenecks

When work piled up in the thick of wedding season, what was keeping it from moving seamlessly forward? By identifying the bottlenecks in your workflows (and then removing them), you can do your best to ensure work wonʼt pile up next season.

Remove Extra Steps

It is easy for teams to get caught up in extra photography workflow steps. When it is not just you in charge of performing your workflow tasks, it is easy to create wasted efforts. For example, you might find yourself passing images back and forth when one hand-off will do. Duplicate steps might not seem like a big deal. But, when you are in the thick of the busy season, every minute counts.

Removing duplicate steps makes your workflows more efficient, increasing the amount of time you have available to work on the tasks that need your attention.

Ready to start updating your workflows? Now is the time. You (and your clients) will be much happier next busy season because you did.

Back-Up

Wedding Photography

Yes! Back them up as soon as you get home from the wedding. And then back them up again. This should go without saying, but those wedding photography files are precious, and they’re priceless to your clients. Save yourself the headache, and save your clients the heartache of lost images by backing them up ASAP.

You may have been shooting for eight or more hours, but when you get home, don’t crawl in that sweet, comfy bed just yet – your night isn’t over. You must back your client’s images up in several places as soon as possible. Not only did your client pay a lot of money for your time and expertise, but for the safety of their images as well. Until their images are backed up safely in several locations, no naps allowed! Don’t learn the hard way; back those things up.

Download

On your computer, create a folder with the client’s name and a sub-folder called “RAWS” (assuming you shoot in RAW, which you should. More on that later). You will need to copy the images from all of your memory cards into the new “RAWS” folder on your computer.

Note: RAW files are huge, so you will probably need to upgrade the amount of storage space on your computer and get some more RAM while you’re at it to run your computer programs efficiently. If you’re using a Mac, make sure your computer is scheduled to backup as well.

Make a Copy

After all the files are on your computer, back them up to a client folder on an external hard drive. When not in use, the external hard drive should be kept securely in a place like a fireproof safe. Some photographers backup on more than one external hard drive.

Backup Online

Lastly, when you don’t think you can stay awake another second, you need to start your RAW File back up to an online or cloud location. The good news? You can go to sleep while the files upload overnight and maybe the next few days if you have a slower internet connection.

Importing and Culling

The most exciting part of your job – not!

Culling

Start to cull your photos by the lens. This is the quickest way to decide on which images to keep. You can do this in the Library Module, going to Metadata (or hitting the / key) and selecting the lens you want to cull. Rate your images on what to keep (hit P for picks or keepers) and what to toss (hit X for rejects). Repeat your rating process with each lens, and after they are finished, filter by “all lenses” in the Library module to see the images altogether. From there, do a second (or third) round of culling in the Library module until you have your final number.

Be Smart About Culling Images

Try to present your client with the 600-800 BEST images from the wedding day. Not the 3,000 images that you photographed. They don’t need the images where they are blinking, or the light isn’t quite flattering. They don’t need five copies of the same pose. What clients want are all the best photos. Do not get rid of entire sections of the wedding, but be selective with the photos you give to your clients. Also, when at the wedding, be selective about shooting as well. Try to be intentional with your shots, and I am aware to not overshoot.

Culling, or going through every image you took of a wedding, rating them, and deciding which to keep and which to trash, is the most tedious, eye-bleeding part of your job. This is why it’s not a good idea to “spray and pray” throughout a wedding day with your cameras. The more selective you are with the photos you take, the faster your post-wedding workflow will be. Alternatively, companies you can use to cull your images for you if that is within your budget.

After the photos were backed up, the next step in my wedding workflow was to go through and cull all the photos. This means you’ll cut out all duplicates, blurry or bad shots, and anything you don’t want to deliver to your client. At Vines of the Yarra Valley we have compiled a list of the Best Photographers in Melbourne to help you choose who captures your magical day.

Mark Your Favorite Photographs

After culling the photos, the next step in my wedding workflow was to go through and give a 3rd star to your “favourite” photographs.

Basic Edits

This is where the magic happens!

You have your final number of culled images and can now begin your basic Lightroom edits. This is where your cropping, straightening, and adjustments for exposure, contrast, shadow, highlights, etc., come into play. This part is very personal to each photographer, and this is where your style begins to emerge. This is also why shooting in RAW is so important, as you will have greater flexibility in editing than a JPG. Many photographers may stop after this step, and that’s A-Okay if you’re happy with your result! However, if you want to push your images further – there are a few more steps involved.

Quick tip! If you have a series of photos in the same lighting situation taken with the same camera, edit the first Photo in the set, select the rest of the photos that match, then hit the “Sync” button to apply your edit to all of the photos in that set at once.

Polishing

Lightroom Editing 2

Making your images sparkle Presets.

Many photographers may polish their images (a.k.a. colour tone) with a chosen preset after the basic edits are done. You can buy Lightroom presets from a plethora of sources online or create your own. 

Retouching Your Images with Photoshop

Now that your images have all your basic edits and colour toning select the images that need to be retouched with Photoshop by filtering for the 3-star rated images. Retouching can include editing out acne, stray hairs, doing head swaps or editing out any distracting objects in the image. On a Mac, you can hit command+E (Window is Control+E) in Lightroom to open your image in Photoshop. After retouching is complete, you can select CMD/CTRL+S (or File>Save) to return your retouched image to Lightroom.

Black and White Images

This is the quickest part of post-production. Many wedding photographers provide a mix of colour and black and white photos, with the colour versions of each black and white as well. 

It’s easiest if you already have a black and white preset that you love saved, and apply that to all images, then deselect all. Go through each image individually using the colour sliders (especially the reds and yellows) to edit and ensure each black and white image is perfect.

Save all black and white images back to Lightroom, where the edited colour version and the edited black and white version will be side by side.

Black and white images can also be made in Lightroom by creating a virtual copy, Photo>Create Virtual Copy (or CMD/CTRL+’). Then select “Black and White’ in your Basic Edits box, and adjust the colour sliders until they’re perfect.

Exporting the Home Stretch!

Hooray! All of your images have been backed up, culled, edited, polished, retouched, and you have your black and white copies. Now you just need to export the final versions to your client’s folder on your computer (You can create a folder called “Edited”).

Select all of your completed images in Lightroom, go to File>Export. Choose your file location, file name, file settings, and then select export when finished.

Importing to an Online Client Gallery

Once all of your high-resolution JPGs are exported to the Edited client folder on your computer, you can then upload them to the online gallery of your choice. Some online galleries allow you to upload your high-res JPGs directly from Lightroom using a plugin, letting you skip a step in the process.

At Long Last,

After you upload your images to an online gallery, copy your final edits to your external hard drive in their client folder. Once your edited files are safe online, and on an external hard drive, you can delete the RAW files from your computer because they take up a lot of space, and you already have them safely backed up online and to an external hard drive (or two). If you ever want to use that Lightroom catalogue again, it’s easy to sync the RAW files on your external hard drive with the Lightroom catalogue stored on your computer. I like to leave the edited JPGs on my computer for easy access.

Schedule and Post to Social Media

Once the 3-star photos were edited (50 max.), I’d select my favourites (yes, favourites of my favourites) and schedule those 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 on everyone’s mind—and is one of the most important parts of a post-wedding workflow!

Storyboard Tool for Blogging

Blogging is an important part of running a successful photography business. Readers want to continually go to your site to see new content. Something that has been a huge time saver is using the Photoshop plugin StoryBoard by Code and Hustle to create blog posts.

Photographer Workflow Apps

As mentioned above, your photography workflow must run smoothly to have an efficient business. With technology constantly improving, countless apps are designed to help professional wedding photographers maintain a streamlined workflow. We gathered five workflow apps that will help speed up your daily workflow and grow your photography business.

Boomerang

As a wedding photographer, you do not always work a scheduled 9-5 shift. If you make plans to connect with a vendor in the morning and then book a shoot in the evening, you may not get to your emails until later that night. Rather than sending emails at 10 pm, schedule them to send exactly when you want with Boomerang.

Write emails at your convenience and click the “Send Later” button. This allows you to determine when you want to send emails. By scheduling emails to send during normal business hours, it helps manage clients and vendors’ expectations, so they do not expect you to answer emails during the later hours.

Dropbox

With Dropbox, you can bring your photos and documents with you anywhere you go. Any files you upload to it will automatically save to all of your devices. This means if you are on the go and need to access images through your mobile device, you can.

You can also create customized folders. With these folders, you can organize your images and share specific folders with vendors after a wedding. From here, vendors can access and view all of the images you selected to share with them.

Hootsuite

Staying on top of social media can be challenging, especially on the weekends when you are shooting weddings. With Hootsuite, you can schedule out your Tweets, Facebook posts, and other social media updates from one platform at one time.

Rather than posting about a blog post at 9 pm when you finished it, you can schedule a post through Hootsuite at a better time when you know your followers are actively online. With the ability to schedule multiple posts, you can schedule your entire week or month ahead of time.

Evernote

Evernote is an organizational tool to keep all your notes about clients together. In this app, you can create a separate notebook for each client. Within each notebook, write individual notes for each meeting and interaction you have with that client. This is a simple way to stay organized, and you can sync your notes across every device.

An image of a woman’s mustard yellow sweater and her hands as she types on a laptop in front of her, with the background out of focus.

Asana

As a project management software that helps you keep track of each task you have, Asana is a great app to implement into your workflow. You can create unique projects for each client and include all of the specific items you need to complete, along with the due dates for each task.

In Asana, you have the option to assign each task to someone. So, this is a great tool if you are working with a photography team or specialists. With the simple interface, it is easy to see a quick overview of all your current tasks and who you assigned each task.

Conclusion

This entire workflow process time will vary for every photographer. For me, I need 4-5 full days of nearly uninterrupted work. As you know, photographers are humans too. Life and other weddings/shoots in between – delivery time can take weeks or months after the event, depending on how busy your season is, how many photos you have, and how much retouching is required. You may need to mail prints, albums, USB drives, etc., as well, so keep that in mind for your total post-production time. Looking for the Best Photographers in Melbourne? We have compiled an exclusive list of some of Melbourne’s best photographers to capture your special day.

With a lot of practice and knowing your style, you’ll see your post-processing time get shorter and shorter. If you’re lucky enough to find a post-processing company that fits your style and budget, you’ll have extra time in life for the things you love, like photography. Until then, get to work!

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