Wedding photography: 3 tips to speed up your editing workflow
One of the questions that came up during the Q&A at my presentation at B&H, was how long does it take me to edit a wedding. Well, the ideal is that it takes me less than a day. During the peak wedding season around September and October, it is easy to slip behind, but that still remains my goal – to edit a wedding during the week right after the wedding took place.
There are several things motivating this idea:
- I am more likely to get print orders from the guests at a wedding if the event is still fresh in their memory.
- In terms of your workflow as a photographer, it is imperative that you don’t fall behind. If you don’t edit a wedding *this* week, then you’re behind because you’re shooting further events.
The best idea then is to edit the wedding in the day or two directly after. Cull, edit, upload, and then you’re done with the immediate workflow. Keep things rolling.
Here are my 3 best tips for a faster workflow. Of course, this doesn’t just relate to weddings, but also to any event where a high volume of images need to be dealt with.
1. Edit in! Don’t edit out.
What does it exactly mean, to “edit in”?
Let’s look at an example. You have a groom that looks like a movie star and knows how to present himself and isn’t shy. So you shoot 100 portraits of him. Awesome images. Great! You nailed it! But now, on the Monday morning, you have to select the images you want to present to the client.
The usual way to cull the images would be to look at all 100 images, and then try to choose between the images. There will be obvious ones you can immediately delete, such as blinks. But you will end up with pretty much the same number of images. And now the difficult task is to choose between the images. This one? Or that one? Does *this* one look better?
It is a really becomes a difficult process to make these decisions, and it is easy to get bogged down. The trouble starts here because you’re choosing between a huge number of awesome images, slowly whittling them down. It’s a slow process because you’re editing out.
The best advice here … edit in.
Here is how it works. Decide how many images of any particular sequence or part of the day, you need to give your client.
So you have 100 awesome images of the groom. How many do you need to give a representative selection to your client? As an example, let’s say you need 8 awesome portraits of the groom.
You need to pick 8 images out of a 100.
- pick two full-length images. Pick two of the best. *This* one. Oh, and *that* one. You’re done.
- pick two half-length images where the groom is looking at the camera. Yup, *that* one, and *that* one. You’re done.
- pick two half-lengh images where the groom is perhaps looking away, or has an interesting animated expression. Yup, the bride would love *that* photo, and oh, *this* one looks great. You’re done!
- pick two close-up portraits. A slightly serious portrait, and one with a smile. You’re done!
So in this way, by deciding how many images you need, you can be strict with yourself – pick a representative mix of the images, and be done. Move on to the next set of images.
With this example, it should take you less than 30 seconds to pick the 8 images, instead of the drawn-out anguished process of whittling down those 100 images.
You would then move the images you didn’t select, into a different folder. You’re only going to edit the images that were selected, for color and contrast and saturation and such.
2. Use a super-fast image browser to cull the images
In my experience, there is nothing faster than Photo Mechanic for the culling process. It’s a breeze as you zip through the images, giving them a star rating or color code. The star rating even propagates through to Lightroom and Bridge.
You may well be very familiar and happy with your post-processing workflow based around Lightroom or Aperture or similar. But I am still convinced that it is a faster process to do the initial culling of images with Photo Mechanic. Selecting the 750 (or whatever your specific choice may be) of the thousands of images you shot, is best done with a dedicated image browser. And Photo Mechanic is it!
Let’s say I shot 3,000 images and need to bring them down to 500 images for my client. I would download all the images into a folder, and sort them according to time-stamp in Photo Mechanic. Then I would rename them. (You may choose to do so later on in your workflow.) Then, using the star rating, select your keepers. Move the not–selected images into a “discarded” folder.
Now, use Lightroom or Aperture to edit, correct and process your images.
Go head, give Photo Mechanic a try. They allow a 30 day trial. I think you’ll be impressed.
3. Don’t pull images into Photoshop unless you really have to
With software programs like Aperture and Lightroom and Capture One, that offer an all-in-one solution, you really don’t need to do much in Photoshop.
The thing is, the moment you pull images into Photoshop, you’re considerably slowing down your high-volume workflow. With that idea in mind, I only pull images into Photoshop when they are going to appear in an album on Facebook or appear on Pinterest, (or your choice of social media wagon), or on your blog.
All the other edits you do on your RAW files, such as exposure, contrast, color balance, saturation, B&W, can be done in Aperture / Lightroom / Capture One / Bridge. No need for Photoshop yet.
Even if you use Bridge and ACR to edit your images, don’t open the RAW files in Photoshop. Open the images (via ACR) in Bridge. Not using Photoshop, will mean your computer’s resources won’t be burdened. You can do these edits on the RAW files via ACR, hosted in Bridge. No sight yet of Photoshop.
And when you do use Photoshop as part of your initial workflow, then it should be via scripts or batches that you run.
Yes, I do use Photoshop but mostly only for removal of exit signs and skin retouching and such … and only on images that will appear on social media or on the blog. Definitely not for the 500+ images you deliver to the client.
Therefore, limiting the number of times you open Photoshop as part of your initial workflow, will help speed your workflow up. Considerably.
In the same vein, don’t anguish over the editing of the images yet. Do so for the albums and for print orders. But not for the overall workflow.
With these three ideas incorporated in your workflow, I have little doubt that your post-wedding workflow will be much faster. You’ll have more time to spend on your business and photography.
- More wedding photography tutorials
- Lightroom tutorial – local adjustments
- Photoshop tips – retouching for portraits
- Image size & resolution – 72dpi or 300dpi