How to Edit a Wedding in 8 Hours or Less

When I hear other photographers talking about how long it takes them to edit a wedding, I honestly feel bad for them. It doesn’t have to be that way! At this point in my career, editing a wedding as like performing a well choreographed a dance that I have practiced hundreds of times. It comes naturally, flows well, and so long as I follow each of the steps, turns out perfectly. With that said, I am always learning and open to suggestions. I understand that what works for me, might not work for everyone. But I figure, it might be helpful to someone, and community is key.

how to edit a wedding in 8 hours or less / photography tips

Before the Wedding

 Having a quick and easy workflow starts before I take a single picture. Because I am a dual body shooter (thanks holdfast!), I make sure that my cameras are set to the exact same time down to the second. This will ensure that I can easily sort the images by timestamp after the wedding. If I have a second shooter, we sync up our cameras the same way. If I don’t, I end up having to manually go through Lightroom and re-organize all of the pictures... which takes forever because there are 2000+ RAW images from my weddings.

Where to get a Holdfast

During the Wedding

The second thing I do on a wedding day to make sure that editing goes smoothly is to shoot entirely in manual mode. This might seem obvious to photo veterans, but I mention it not just for the sake of having the best quality images, I say it for the sake of batch editing. Once I enter a lighting situation that is relatively unchanging, I do not change my settings. If I was shooting on some type of auto mode, white balance and exposure could be all over the place. I want as much consistency as possible in order to make my life easier in the future. The ability to batch edit is what speeds up the editing process the most.

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Preparing to Edit

When I get home from a wedding, I import all of the RAW files to my computer. I also back them up onto my external before editing so that if my editing style changes in the future I have the images to play with and rework.

When it’s time to actually start processing the RAW files, the very first thing I do is cull the images. Culling, or choosing the good pictures and ditching the bad, is important so that you’re not wasting time messing with images you don’t want or need. The less extra images in Lightroom the better. Photo Mechanic is amazing software that loads previews of your image files super fast. I used to have to wait hours for Lightroom to render previews, but now it takes no time at all. I literally just drag all of the raw files into Photo Mechanic to create a new contact sheet, double click the first one to make it larger, and arrow through the pictures selecting my favorites by tagging them by clicking “T” on the ones I like as I go. Culling is a gut thing for me. It should take a millisecond. I can cull an entire wedding in an hour or less.

Then, I select all of the tagged images and drag them straight into Lightroom. I apply my personalized color preset and metadata upon import and create a collection titled by the date and names of the couple.

Where to get Photo Mechanic

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Editing

Now it is finally time to start editing! Because my preset has already been applied, I only have to tweak a few things on the first photo of each lighting situation and synchronize the rest. My primary focus is on color balance and exposure. Since I am creating a consistent portfolio and look, I don’t touch much else. I have a black and white preset that I can apply to images that call for it, but find that I am mostly drawn to color.

As I am editing the images, I create a quick collection (select a photo and click B) of my absolute favorites that I can use later when I am creating an album, blog post, or searching for images to use on social media. When I am totally finished, I sort the entire collection by timestamp and export the images. I always rename the images in the sequence of when they were photographed and compress them with JPEGmini so that uploading and downloading goes faster in the future.

Where to get JPEGmini

And that’s it! The images are totally edited!


***I have not been approached by any of the companies in this post to advertise for them.

 

 
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