There are no right or wrong ways to run your business as long as you continue to get clients and you can keep your sanity juggling various projects. My turnaround time for a wedding is 2-3 weeks. I know other photographers take longer if they travel, shoot film, have other projects, or even work a normal day job. But like I said, it’s not wrong by any means and my way doesn’t mean it’s better, it just works for me.
I’m a full-time photographer so, if I’m not shooting, I’m either editing a shoot or marketing my business. If I’m doing neither, I’m enjoying the good life of self-employment and doing whatever I want with my schedule. But, I have this rule – I can have fun as long as my (home)work is done, as my mom would say. And homework means, my projects have been completed.
So if any of you want to organize a bit more to close projects quickly, and avoid the seven weddings that are waiting to be edited, here is my rundown of what I do. Of course, to each his own, this is just what works for me. Just like there’s not a perfect way to study, some things work better for others. I don’t outsource any of my editing since I’m a control freak, so a lot of editing is done on my work, but I’m happy to take the responsibility and workload to make sure I deliver the best I can to my clients.
- Block off your “edit day.” If you shoot on a Saturday, your edit days can be as soon as Sunday and Monday. If you are off on Sundays, your edit days will be Monday and Tuesday – basically you just need to block off a few days to edit. As soon as you book your wedding, block off those edit dates. No coffee dates, nothing except you and your awesome computer and files!
- The night of the wedding, upload all images to your desktop. Add images to Lightroom by selecting the folder your files are in and render file previews to 1:1 then go to bed. (This makes culling fast since it pulls each image up immediately). You can edit on Day 1. Night night.
Day 1 – Editing day: An example of the most recent 8 hour wedding I shot.
- 9:30 – 11:30 Grab a coffee and start culling the images by the flag system. Images should already be rendered 1:1 preview for optimal previewing speed. Cull 2730 images total for an 8 hour wedding down to 621 images. (2 hrs)
- 11:30 – 1:00 Crop, adjust temperature, exposure, shadows in Lightroom. Decreased flag status to edit 621 images down to 590 total images. (1 hr, 30 min)
- 1:00 – 2:15 Export images at 300 dpi, 14″ longest side to a new folder called “final high res”. Eat lunch, take a break. Make sure Apple’s Time Machine is not running in background. (1 hr 15 min)
- 2:15 – 4:45 Pull up 20 images at a time into Photoshop – every single one. Yes, I look at each image 3 times before it goes to my client. Some might think it’s crazy, I think it shows my attention to detail. My images are a part of my brand so I ensure each one is to my satisfaction before I give them to a client. View at 16.7% ratio to see color against gray to double check temperature, content aware fill to delete certain distractions, make black and white conversions and run any necessary actions. *NO checking email or Facebook during this time, do not distract yourself. (2 hrs 30 min)
- 4:45 – 5:00 Break (15 min)
- 5:00 – 5:15 Resume Photoshop editing (15 min)
- 5:15 – 5:45 Automatic Photoshop batch resize for online gallery – use your own action. Upload to proofing gallery. Done. (30 min)
Actual editing hours = 6 hours, 15 min. Total hours given for the day = 8 hours, 15 min.
Day 2 – Wrapping Up Project
- Prepare your own blog post
- Submit to wedding blog
- Create wedding proofing thank you cards and place order to WHCC (if purchased in package)
- Email vendors link to proofing gallery
- Burn client disc and write thank you note
- Backup images on external and disc to store
Now, does this mean the client gets the disc soon? No. Sometimes I don’t edit all in a day, as you can see, the editing process can be broken up and I would do it before I pulled each image into Photoshop for those edits. So it really depends but my clients can expect their disc around the 2-3 week mark, assuming I don’t have any vacations that I must leave to immediately following their wedding. In which if that was the case, they would be aware of it.
I don’t deliver a ton of images to my clients, only the best. For an 8 hour wedding, clients can expect 400+ images, that’s it. That’s about 50 images per hour and some will get more depending on details and first look. It just depends on the day and my clients are more than OK with this. I have yet to have any complaints since it’s in my contract and no client hires me unless they understand the images they will receive. After making a few black and white conversions, the count might go up by 50, I do leave color images in there, IF they are ok. If the image is terrible in color, the black and white option is the only one I provide my clients.
Diana Elizabeth says each case varies of course and her speed is dependent upon distractions, wedding itself, and how much coffee she’s had.