by Amy Lyn, Wedding Editor
I am embarrassed to tell you how much time I wasted on post production when I first started in wedding photography. A.Crazy.Amount.Of.Time. I probably made $2 an hour that first year. I realized (apparently not very quickly!) that if I wanted to spend time with my family again AND make money I had to work on two items: The first was my pricing; the second was my workflow.
I now divide my wedding workflow into five main categories: Downloading and Backup, Editing & Design, the Sales Session, Checking and Packaging, and Delivery. I use ShootQ to organize my workflow and I highly recommend that you check it out. In a few clicks I know which production step each of my clients are in and what should be done first. I am sure there are other great methods, but I don’t think I’d have any hair left if it weren’t for ShootQ.
Today, I am going to discuss the editing and design portion of my process. I know most photographers are envied for their sexy, adventurous jobs, but as we know, this is the killer step–the hours of editing. But there are ways to speed it up.
As I mentioned last month, I always photograph in RAW. I then create a “project” in Aperture (many others use Lightroom and Camera RAW), I quickly cull my images by using a zero-star or three-star system. Keepers get three stars. Throw-aways get zero. I figure there’s no need to sit and debate whether an image merits three or four stars. When I see a spectacular, knock-your-socks-off image, I will give it a five so that later I know to use it for promotion materials or my website. I usually keep 500-600 photographs to give the client. I know photographers that give 250. I know some that give thousands. But 500-600 is more manageable for me while still covering the main highlights of the day.
I then do my basic corrections. Unless there is a serious flaw that needs fixing (and for some reason I didn’t throw the image out) very few of my wedding images are even opened in Photoshop at this stage. Basic adjustments such as white balance, cropping and exposure are corrected and then I move on to the next. When I am finished here, the proofs are done.
I then work on album and product predesign. If there is an album in the package, I design it as if it were mine. I select my favorite images and the most important moments and place them into the spreads. I used to ask the clients for a list of their favorite images and go from there but this didn’t work for me. It seemed overwhelming for them without a place to start and ended up making more work for me. With the predesign, I find, it is easier for all of us. Most of my clients choose the album with only a couple photo swaps. I design example wall galleries and thank you cards as well. I don’t take much time with these because there is no guarantee of an order, but it never hurts to show them the options. I then make the appointment to meet with the client and show them their images and my designs. That brings me to the sales session and a long happy dance since the dullest work is now complete.
There are certainly as many different workflows as their are photographers. I love hearing about others’ processes. Please share in the comments what you do to speed things along.
Last but not least, I’d love to know what other wedding topics people would like to know about for future posts. Feel free to leave some suggestions in the comments as well.