Post & Delivery
Post Wedding & Delivery
What you do after the wedding can have a massive impact on your reputation as a local wedding photographer. For the most part, couples are in honeymoon mode for the week following the wedding so there is no benefit for getting photos delivered quite that quickly. However, couples do really appreciate a quick turnaround. Getting final images returned to the bride and groom within a month is a really good goal to try to hit. If your schedule is particularly packed 2 months should be your maximum deadline. I’ve known some photographers in my area take as long as 6 months to deliver photos, but to me that is far too long after the wedding and by then the “high“ has worn off.
The first step to your editing process is called the cull. This is the process of cutting down your thousands of total captured images to the several hundred that you will edit and deliver to the couple. This process takes a little bit of practice to get fast, but once you’ve mastered quickly identifying the best shots, you can cull an entire wedding in about a half an hour. Here’s how I do it:
In Adobe Lightroom, after importing all of the photos from the shoot, I use the star ratings to quickly flip through the images and assign either 4 or 5 stars based on how good the photo is. Usually from each different pose/situation, there is one winner. If I’m unsure if a photo is usable or not, that’s when I’ll assign 4 stars. If I start going through a particular pose that has several images and identify a winner before getting through all of them, I mark it 5 stars and move on to the next pose. The key is to be decisive and to make decisions as quickly as you can without compromising quality.
Once the photos are culled down you can begin editing. Apply a rating filter to the photos to see only the culled images. It’s a good idea to create presets of your signature looks to be able to quickly apply them and then just tweak the settings to fit that particular image. The fastest way to edit a whole set is to edit one of each different location/similar photo and then sync the settings across all of the similar shots. For example, if you shot a series of first look shots in a secluded garden, edit the first shot of that set and then sync the settings across the rest of those first look shots. You could spend 20 minutes editing each of those individually or you could spend 5 minutes editing one and copying the settings to the others.
Just like the cull, editing benefits from a practice makes perfect mentality. The more wedding sets you edit, the quicker you will get at batch editing groups of photos rather than one at a time. I can typically get a full wedding set of about 450 images edited in about 2 hours. Speed is key but quality is still the number one priority. If the desire to get through an edit quickly is compromising the quality of your shots, it’s time to dial back the speed a little and refocus on providing an excellent product.
I try to make most of my decisions through both the cull and the edit from the couple’s perspective. Sometimes you’ll come across a photo that is imperfect from a technical standpoint but captures a moment that the couple would absolutely love to remember. That’s a photo that you should keep regardless of slightly soft focus or a poor framing. In editing, there may be the occasional photo that could really benefit from minor local adjustments, i.e. skin retouching, teeth whitening, etc. These decisions will always pay off despite taking a little extra time to do.
Finally, file delivery. The way you do this is incredibly important. There are web services, like Pixieset.com and Zenfolio.com, that you can use that will allow you to upload the final edited images as a gallery and the couple and their family can directly order prints of their favorite photos. The best part is that the printing, shipping, and payment processing is all handled by the service. All you have to do is upload the photos, share the link, and collect the profit from whatever photos are purchased. I have known several photographers that regularly double their wedding income by doing this.
Once all of this is wrapped up it is important not to forget to post a handful of the best shots from the wedding on your social media and to tag the couple in the photos. This will keep your name circulating on social media and keep your exposure high among friends and family of the couple. Maintaining this level of activity on social media could mean self sustainability without the need for any advertising.