After the Shoot
When we talk to prospective clients, we always try to give them an idea of what to expect before, during, and after their wedding. After all, we pride ourselves on end-to-end service. The last thing we want to do is just show up on the day of the wedding, shoot a few pictures, then disappear. Well, when we talk abut the process we go through after any wedding, we usually talk about our interaction with our clients, but there’s a lot of detail we leave out around our actual photography workflow – what we do with the photo files, what tools we use to edit, and how we finally deliver our clients’ photos.
These details are actually of wide interest amongst the photographer’s community and a few folks on twitter have begun a string of blog postings to describe their photography workflow. It’s all about learning from each other and improving our work to be the best possible. Well, here’s our contribution to that. For our clients, this may be way more details than you care to know about. You can just trust that you’re in good hands For other photographers, I hope this run-down helps you and we’d love to know more about your workflow. So post something on your blog and let us know on twitter.
Thanks to Ariston Collander for starting this string and getting all of us to spend a little time talking about the behind the scenes work we do! Seshu Photography is also part of the impetus for documenting our workflow.
So what happens when we leave the wedding or finish your portrait session??
- Since we shoot digitally, ensuring that files are not lost is a huge concern for us. We actually start our back-up process at the events themselves using a portable memory card back-up device. Currently we use a Hyperdrive Colorspace since it’s fast and double-checks all the files before finishing the copy. We copy off cards as we use them up and them store the used CF cards away – we don’t re-use cards until we’ve verified everything the next day. So even before we leave the parking lot, we’ve already got two copies of your photos.
- Since most wedding receptions last well into the night, we pick up the next morning with backing up photos onto our desktop computers and external drives. Remember, we always want at least two copies of every photo we take! We only re-format memory cards after we’ve verified that these computer back-ups have completed properly.
2) Photo Organization
- This is a MUST for weddings we do since we take several thousand photos on a wedding day. Without organizing the photos, it would be near impossible for our clients to easily find photos they’re looking for later on, and we definitely don’t want to deliver just a stack of photos. So we do this organization up front.
- Our main tool for organization photos and doing a variety of photo editing is Adobe Lightroom. The integration with Photoshop and the rest of our workflow is so great that we often wonder how we got stuff done before Lightroom was released!
- In Lightroom, we create a folder structure to match our client’s events. Each event will have a top level folder. Portions of each event will be broken down into their own folders. So a couple’s portraits in their wedding outfits will be sitting a Portraits folder which is within the folder for their Wedding. Lightroom makes it easy to move around photos quickly so we can create folders on the fly and keep everything as organized as possible. Typically, for just a wedding day, we’ll end up with around 15-20 folders to ensure it’s easy for our clients to find specific photos. The folders may range from Getting Ready Shots, the Groom’s Baraat (Procession), Portraits, etc. Since each tradition is different, the folder will vary to match our clients.
3) Photo Editing
- As mentioned, Adobe Lightroom is our key tool which allows us to do a variety of editing on the photos we take.
- The first thing we’ll do is actually select photos which we think meet our final presentation standards. We tend to shoot many more shots than we expect to deliver to our clients. We may take a dozens of photos during the couple’s first dance, but not all of them will have the lighting and composition we love. So we’ll pick the best of the bunch. We do this for the entire set of photos first.
- Once we have our narrowed list of photos, we’ll begin with basic editing like color correction. This is pretty critical since the ambient light outdoors or in various rooms can affect the general tone of the photos we take. To ensure we have consistent color balance throughout the day, we correct against baseline photos which we take throughout the day using a white balance card. This ensure that the bride’s dress or sari looks the same color throughout the day. And since the South Asian events we do have such colorful elements, we really need to ensure we get the color right. Pink should always look pink, and not mauve, purple, red, or whatever! Much of this can be automated since Lightroom has great ability to match white balance and other elements across a series of photos.
- After we’ve done the basic color correction, we begin on the creative editing for every photo. This might include sepia, black & white, or other color conversions. We don’t always provide multiple versions of each photo, since usually, a photo looks best based on the editing we’ve done. For example, It may be an impressive & memorable photo when finished with a smooth sepia, but it may not be as remarkable when in full color. There’s a host of presets that we take advantage of in Lightroom, but rarely do we just leave it at those presets…they’re just a start. In case you’re interested, Presets Heaven is a nice source for LightRoom presets.
- While we’re doing this creative editing, we’ll also do a number of touch-ups. Since the latest versions of Lightroom allow for a lot of control in this area, we tend to stick to Lightroom; previously we would export out to Photoshop to do some of these basic touch-ups. This includes some skin smoothing, brightening of the eyes, and selective darkening as needed.
- In parallel, we also think about the enhanced edited we can do such as adding textures or illustrative elements to the photo. We never want to over power the photo itself, but many times, these extra elements can add oh-so much punch! For this enhanced editing, we use Photoshop exclusively. We tend to stay away from pre-built photoshop actions since the type of editing we’re doing is so customized to each photo. However, there are a few actions from Kevin Kubota that we’ll utilize. Once we’re done with this editing step, it’s back to Lightroom!
- As we go through this process for every photo, we may add additional photos to the mix or remove photos which we originally thought would match our clients’ expectations.
4) Photo Delivery
Once we’ve completed editing our clients’ photos, there’s a variety of things we do to deliver photos:
- With the final editing complete, we re-name photos to a standard format which indicates the couple, the folder, and photo number. So our couples don’t get something like IMG_XXXX, they get something which actually makes sense to them!
- For weddings, we actually deliver an online Webshow to them within a week of their wedding. So this happens before we’ve competed editing ALL of their photos. We tend to pick 100-200 memorable photos from the wedding day and go through the editing described above. We then deliver that Webshow set to music on a page on our site dedicated to the couple. It’s a nice little plus we like to provide our clients very quickly after their wedding. Since everyone loves to get a peek into the photos, this is a great way for our couple’s to share a small number of photos with their guests very quickly.
- The entire set of our couple’s photos will be delivered in a password protected section of our website and on disc for them to keep. The low-resolution photos go onto a photo hosting & ordering system we maintain ourselves. The high-resolution photos are delivered to our clients on disc in a nice package which couples can store away. Both the online & disc versions of the photos are organized in the same way that we’ve organized our Lightroom folders. It’s the easiest way for them to view their photos and select photos for future use.
- In addition to individual photos and the Webshow, we provide a DVD montage to our clients which can be played on any TV. The DVD montage is usually 10-15 minutes and set to music. The photos we use are the fully edited ones that our clients receive online and on disc. We’ve found that this DVD montage is especially appreciated by the parents of the couple since they don’t always have parent albums and the DVD is a great way to remember their children’s wedding as well as share those special moments with guests.
So what happens after we deliver all of these photos? Well, there’s album design, gallery wraps, photo montages, and host of other things which our clients may be receiving as part of their overall package. We’ll talk about that in another post!