My Workflow - from wedding to client delivery

The one thing I discovered early on as a wedding photographer is the need for a good, efficient, workflow. Many many hours can be saved through a streamlined process.

Step 1 - Backup

The first thing I do when I get back from a wedding is backup the images! There are many options when it comes to backing up files and any option takes a lot less effort than trying to recover deleted files from a SD/CF card. 

I use a Western Digital 2TB My Passport Wireless external hard drive as my stand-alone backup option. The standout feature of this 2.5 inch portable hard drive is the built-in SD card reader. Using the web interface, it is possible to configure the hard drive to automatically import any files from the SD when it is inserted into the card reader. Note: it can take a while to copy a whole wedding's worth of images (c.20GB) so I tend to insert the SD card and come back in about 25 minutes. Perfect amount of time to rest with a coffee!

I use this hard drive as a data dump of ALL images. Once this is complete, I can begin the import of the images onto my main computer. For added protection, I use the cloud backup service Backblaze which runs in the background looking for new files which are then uploaded to a secure cloud account.

Step 2 - Import 

The next step is to import the images onto my computer for editing using my Macbook's built-in SD card reader. In order to narrow down which images I want to take forward to Step 3 - Editing, I need a fast RAW viewer. For this I use Photo Mechanic 5.

This application is more an image viewer than editor but it is very good - and quick - as a viewer of RAW files. A typical wedding can generate between 1000-1500 images and I needed a speedy way of narrowing down the images I wanted to take forward for editing. 

This application takes less than 0.5 seconds (not a scientific measurement!) to open a RAW file; this is significantly quicker than Lightroom. Multiple this time saving by between 1000-1500 images can add up to a massive time saving.

Whilst Photo Mechanic isn't great for pixel-peeping, it can give a good indication which images I want to take to the next level and import into Lightroom. Using two keys - W for select and the right arrow for next image - I can highlight and select the image I want to take forward. Once I have viewed all the images on the SD/CF card, I copy the images I've selected from the SD/CF card to a folder on my hard drive - simply named 'For Lightroom'

Step 3 - Editing

I use Adobe Lightroom for editing. After I have imported the images contained in the 'For Lightroom' folder I created earlier into the Lightroom catalog, the fun begins! The editing process takes more time than the photographing of the wedding day but thankfully Lightroom provides a one-stop-shop for editing a wedding. I can edit a wedding, or engagement, just using Lightroom. 

Throughout the editing process, I will weed out more images and remove them from the catalog. Photo Mechanic is a good application for quickly viewing RAW images but it does not allow for the same level of image detail as Lightroom. As I'm editing I often view images close up in Lightroom and notice things I could not see in Photo Mechanic and subsequently cast the image aside.

Step 4 - Final Review  

After editing all of the images in my signature style, I end up with around 350 images (down from 1000-1500!). I opt for quality over quantity. In order to get some perspective, once I have completed my editing process I pause and return to give the images a final review a day or two later. It is amazing what you notice once you step back and pause.

Step 5 - Delivery 

Around 4-6 weeks after the wedding, the final collection of images are ready to be delivered to the happy couple. I supply the images on a USB or DVD in both High Resolution and Web Quality. The Web Quality images for specifically optimised for Facebook and Instagram, as these are the social media websites where the couple like to post their wedding images.

I also provide the couple with a password-protect online gallery of their images.

Step 6 - Website and Social Media  

After the images have been delivered to the client, I turn to my own website and social media. I will often write a Blog post and share some of my favourite images from the wedding. I also will post one or two images to my Facebook page, Google+,  Twitter, and Instagram accounts. I also see if there are any images from the wedding I would like to add to my specific portfolio page.

Clients like to see recent work so I have designed my website to be image-centric. For example, the main page of my website consists of several full screen images. This introduction page has few words and a click button to enter the website proper. Once clicking this link, you reach the index page of my site which, in addition to some introduction text, displays the thumbnails of my past 20 blog posts. In addition to my portfolio galleries, this page provides the client with additional examples of my work.