How I Edit a Wedding in A Week (or Less)
"If only there were more hours in the day."
I hear it. I feel it. I whine about it often to my partner in crime. Photography is my full-time job. It's just not my only full-time job. During the week from 9-5 I work as a tech support agent. That means when I'm answering phone calls or texts or e-mails during the week, it is literally in my in-between moments. When I deliver sessions for clients, it's fit into a schedule where normally I have 4-5 hours between work and sleep or during my lunch break. I also will usually spend at least one full weekend day working on photo projects.
This isn't to make anyone feel lazy, I'm telling you this because with a routine, a lack of social life (kidding, kinda) and some discipline, you can deliver sessions quickly and leave your days free for other things.
Disclaimer: What works for me will not work for other people. Feel free to adjust this, deconstruct it, and replace where you see fit. Disclaimer pt. 2: My contract states I will deliver in 4-6 weeks. Things happen. I have an auto-immune disease. I also do kind of have a life and sometimes I have plans I actually don't want to ditch. In this case, I adjust my days or the gallery goes out on week 2 or maybe even week 3. It is ok.
I may mention tools or concepts you haven't heard of before. I am writing another blog post that will hopefully be released this week to show you what tools I use, what they're all about, how much they cost, and how they help me. I am always happy to help if you have questions. Feel free to e-mail me with quick questions: firstname.lastname@example.org or let me know if you'd like to book a mentor session.
Day One - The Wedding Day
The minute I get home, no matter if it's midnight & I work the next day or if it is 6PM on a Friday & I just wanna sleep, I download my photos. I plug in my cards and I create folders.
As you can see above, I categorize them all by their last name. From there, "HIGH" is all of my finished jpeg images. I had a second shooter so the "Kelsey" folder are all of her RAW images. "LylesLR" is where the Lightroom catalog is held. RAW are all of my finished files after ingesting the culled images from Photo Mechanic.
From here, I often go ahead and post 10-15 sneak peeks to Facebook and tag the couple. This is so if they want a cute profile picture and don't want to use their cousin's iPhone photo, they have a professional one immediately ready to go. Again, I do this the minute I get home. Normally, this means the couple has sneak peeks and they may not have even left the venue yet (depending on their timeline).
Day Two - Culling
Background: I come from a portrait studio where we had 30 minutes to photograph a session and then afterward we were timed and given 10 minutes to cull. If you're not 100% sure what culling is, it's basically trimming the fat. When I'm photographing a wedding, my finger stays on the shutter. I may take 20 photos of one moment and 18 of those may be blurry or have closed eyes and only 2 of them are different enough and honestly worth delivering to your client. I certainly don't want to look through 20 of the same image, & neither does anyone else. Culling used to take me hours and now in about 30 minutes I can successfully "trim the fat".
Day Two-Four - "Basic" edits
This can be exhausting. I usually give myself a few days to do this as when I say "basic" editing, it doesn't involve pumpkin spice lattes.
I use presets to batch edit then I make adjustments that are based on my style. It seems easy when you consider doing it a few times, but lighting is different in every single room (and honestly, sometimes in different parts of the room). So I have to do the above 600~ times. I have to touch each image and make sure it is perfect. Therefore, I do this for a few hours each night.
Day 5 - Upload then Walk Away
This may seem completely ridiculous to some of you, but this step has helped me be cohesive and it's the "most laid back part of the process because I do what the title says. I export and upload all of the files to my client's pixieset gallery. Then, I go through once and anything that looks out of place is either written down on a notepad or marked as a favorite in the gallery. It helps me see what finishing touches need to be made.
Then, I let it go for the day. If I try to attack what's wrong right then I'll get frustrated, I'll make mistakes and it is just literally all bad.
Day 6/7- Final Touches + Delivery
I take a look at the notes I wrote down the day before and I do a final pass through photoshop and fix anything that requires more detail than Lightroom can handle. I take another look over the gallery and then I deliver! You'll see how I split up the images and what a deliverable looks like down below.