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Post Processing Photographs

The Shoot is Over and Now the Fun Begins as You Process the Images

Processing Wedding Photographs

Processing Wedding Photographs

To some, post processing photographs after a wedding is the boring bit. To me, it is where the image is brought to life.

There is only so much you can do under the pressure of a fast-paced wedding. Generally you don’t have the luxury of standing back and "taking your time". Do your best to compose and expose the image correctly at the time of shooting. If shooting RAW, you can make any fine adjustments to colour casts (white balance), composition (cropping) or exposure later.

In the past when we shot film, it was easy. Take the photos, send to a professional lab and let them do all the colour correcting and post processing. We just ended up with perfect negatives and beautiful prints. Oh how things have changed! If you shoot JPEGS (why would you want to do that for a wedding?), the camera does almost the same as the labs used to:

  • Colour saturation
  • Sharpening
  • Contrast etc

However, shoot RAW and it is a completely different ball game.

Shooting RAW

Your input is vital to getting the images to look their best. I would strongly encourage anyone to learn RAW editing if you haven't already. I won't go into this here as I have covered it in other parts of the site, but please take heed.

My workflow with film used to be 95% photography and 5% playing around afterwards. Now it is 33% photography and 77% digital imaging or post processing. For a one day wedding shoot I will take up to 1,200 photos (normally around 800) and then process each one individually. This can take up to a week. The way I see it, for the price I charge, the couple are paying up to a weeks' salary not just one day.

I always explain this to the couple long before the day, even before they book me sometimes. I explain that they will receive the proofs 10 days to two weeks after the wedding and that I would rather do it right and take my time than rush them and hand them over in 4 days. Most couples go on honeymoon anyway and are happy to wait. It makes it more exciting to have to wait a little too.

Post Processing Photographs - Batch Processing

Yuk! This is just my opinion but I simply cannot batch process my wedding photographs. Whether looking at exposure, white balance or sharpening for example, each image is different. Even if it is a minor fluctuation, batch processing could give the image anything other than its absolute best appearance.

Like I said, this is my opinion and I like to work on each and every photograph as a separate, individual image in its own right. I read online about some peoples wedding photography workflows and I cringe. Especially when it comes to handing over the proofs.

PROOFMAKER

Note: The best way to create proofs for your client is to use a handy plug in for Photoshop that WILL automate professional looking proofs that a simple action cannot do. Check out our review of Mike D's Photoshop Proofmaker...we use it!

Post Processing Photographs Proofmaker

Batch processing is useful however, if you are resizing, adding borders etc, or any other process that doesn’t affect the actual "guts" of the shot.

Processing the Proofs

This is completely down to the photographer but I personally cannot give anything to anyone other than the final, finished product. Many photographers simply make some minimal quick and necessary adjustments and then hand over or put online for ordering. What is that all about?

If it is a choice of:

  • 1
    Taking my time and handing over nothing but the best I can give
  • 2
    Getting the images online as soon as possible to ensure a healthier return on reprints

I choose to take my time…every time!

Sure, I may lose out on a few orders, but to me the standard of images that I show will always be the best I can achieve. Hoping that my reputation will prevail leading to more bookings. Giving substandard proofs with the promise that the printed copies will be perfect is madness to me.

Part of the magic of becoming proficient and successful at wedding photography, is proving to your average Jo that not just anybody can do it. Give the best you can from the very start and get the Wow! factor from the off.

This section is not meant to hold your hand and teach you how to process your wedding photographs. However, I may add that at a later date when I have more time.

I am not even saying that I know everything about wedding photography, processing or that you should even listen to me. All I am trying to do in this section of All Things Photography, is to try and help anyone interested in becoming a professional wedding photographer achieve their dreams.

Post Processing Photographs - Detail

When processing my wedding photographs, I pay very close attention to detail (with any photographs come to that). I get the images open in Photoshop at 100% (or up to 300% sometimes) in order to see the finest of details.

I like to clean away distracting items such as stones or cracks that catch my eye in the image. Stray hairs, small blemishes or even food in the teeth! I don't want anything in there that will take the viewers attention away from what I want them to see.

What I generally won't do unless asked, is to radically alter someone's appearance. Even if you do it well and with the best of intentions, you could end up severely hurting someone’s pride!

Workflow

So, here is my average workflow post-wedding and back-up.

  • I never delete any image other than when on the actual shoot (self confessed "chimper" I am afraid). I have on many occasions, saved what appeared to be a poor image and turned it into what became a favourite of the model.
  • Open Canon's DPP (or Lightroom) and Photoshop ready to complete the entire processing of each image in turn.
  • DPP (or preferred RAW editing software). Complete the processing and adjustments of white balance, exposure, tone curves, saturation and a touch of sharpening…load into Photoshop.
  • Photoshop. Levels, curves, more colour correction and saturation if needed, cropping and straightening, cloning or healing to remove stains etc, with a final tweak here and there to sharpen, and then save as JPEG.
  • I normally open the image in another editing program to check over. I use ACDSee Pro to make sure the image is ok and that I haven't altered the colour management in Photoshop by mistake.
  • Once all images are done, I then batch process the lot in ACDSee and save to a new folder to reduce the size of all images for web/email keeping the original JPEG where it is.

The bottom line when processing wedding photographs is the end resulting image. As long as it the absolute best you can give and the clients are happy, you have done well.

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