Workflow for wedding photographers
Before the wedding day
Once the wedding day is upon you there are a few things that will help the day run well. A few of those things need to be done before the wedding day.
Timings and shot list
Make sure that you have a conversation with the couple about the timings of their wedding day. Also, make sure you have a list of anything they want to have photographs of. This alone will save you many panic attacks. We talk about the wedding timings and photography on our venue visit with the couple. We discuss best group photo options, logistics, practicalities of footwear and accessibility issues. One month before the wedding day we send out a form for the couple to complete to get all this in writing. That list becomes our job sheet. Everything on that list gets completed because it is agreed between us and the couple. At the end of the day, if that list is not completed then we haven’t done our job. If anything can’t be completed then we get that signed off by the couple on the day. This avoids ambiguity and disappointment after the wedding.
Charge every battery you have. That’s a simple one. So is clear all your memory cards. Pack your bag the day before too.
On the day
If you are using two cameras, or two photographers, synchronise your cameras. This will save you a headache when you come to editing the photos. If you are working with someone else discuss what images you will both be taking when you are in the same location. This will save you editing time later on.
At the first opportunity (usually the dinner service) import everything you have to your catalogue and make a backup of all your images and catalogue on a separate drive. Repeat this backup before you leave the wedding too.
The next (few) days
Editing (picking the good, leaving the bad) images is time consuming. I’m going to talk about my particular way of doing things here since I think it’s pretty good. Matt has a different process, yet we both approach this part of the job with the same objectives.
Before I start editing images I apply auto tone and auto white balance. It makes the images viewable and somewhat standardised for the editing process. I also render 1:1 previews before I start. This makes for a good time to make a cup of tea.
I do multi-pass editing. This is where you blast through the whole image set and pick all the photos that are stand out good. I do this in gridview in the Library module. I make the assumption that if an image isn't good small, it’s unlikely to be good large either. Just set a size you are comfortable with and get cracking.
All the images get quick picked using a Lightroom quick collection. In the first pass I don’t care about focus issues or motion blur I’m picking photos that look good. From this first pass I’ll end up with more than I need but they are at a point where decisions are easier to make.
I focus on all duplicates in the second pass. I take each batch, look at them in survey view and remove all the ones that are unnecessary. These are often the group photos or fleeting moments that you shot on burst mode.
Now we’re getting closer to the final set. The third pass is where I process the images. I process every image so I’ll go through each one in the develop module. This is where any out of focus, unintentional motion blur and difficult to rescue images get removed.
The final pass is quality control. I make sure that the work as a whole has a consistent look and feel. I also look for anything that is missing that should be there. This last stage represents the final set.
This workflow gives me some objectivity in the picking/removing stage and some fine control in the processing stage. It also prevents me getting burned out in the picking stage. I always like to take a pause at each stage to reflect on the wedding I’m processing. I find this provides me with better focus and better attention to detail.
After the processing I export all the images then leave them for a week. When I return to look at them I’m doing so with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective. This is like a final quality control step before giving the images to the couple. If I’m happy at this stage then they get uploaded to their private gallery and sent to the client. All this takes between 4 and 6 weeks per wedding.
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