Post Processing Photographs
The Shoot is Over and Now the Fun Begins as You Process the Images
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:
However, shoot RAW and it is a completely different ball game.
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 and 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.
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!
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:
- 1Taking my time and handing over nothing but the best I can give
- 2Getting the images online ASAP ensuring 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 and 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!
So, here is my average workflow post-wedding and back-up.
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.