First of all, What is Workflow?
Workflow - noun - "is the sequence through with a piece of work passes the processes from initiation to completion."
It has taken us a few years to nail down a workflow that works for us. This is one of the most important areas of our business as workflow is where everything begins. This is what determines how fast and efficient our work is being completed without impacting quality. For us, it all begins the moment we walk out of a wedding venue after a wedding day has officially ended.
Step 1: Backing Up
After a job all of our images are immediately backed up onto 2 separate locations. Somewhere between 250-300GB and an average of about 6000 images are backed up and accounted for. We'll create folders for the RAW files, JPG files and the Lightroom Catalog File.
Step 2: Selecting & Sharing a Teaser
During the day we rate photos directly on camera. This helps speed up our post production so when the time comes to select a teaser or other images we're planning on using immediately; we can just filter and locate them. Once that teaser photo is located we'll edit it and share it with our couples and our social media. We love sharing the teaser as our couples are still on their wedding hype and they're excited for the rest of the photos.
Step 3: Culling
In Photography, "Culling" is the process of separating the keepers from the bad ones. During this process we'll go through every single photo individually and rate them according to where they'll end up. If an image is no good then it'll get "X'd" out while keepers get different labels. In here we're searching for the sharpest images, the ones with the best expressions, best emotions, best composition & most importantly the best storytelling photos. Some people ask why we take so many photos so just imagine this... You're photographing a wedding where there's a bridal party of about 20 people in total and during their group portraits a few people blink or maybe a hair goes into someone else's face or maybe the groomsman at the end is looking where else. There's always a high chance of such things happening so making sure we select the best photograph where everyone's eyes are open and looking at us is key.
Step 4: Organization
Once the process of Culling is completed we now have around 2000 images we'll begin working with. Granted the first culling process is a rough cut so there are a few more images that'll be cut before we reach the end but for the most part it'll give us a rough idea of how many photos will be delivered. Once we've culled everything we now begin organizing. This task takes a little bit of time but in our opinion is worth everything. We create different collections in Lightroom for the day. From "Smart Collections" which we'll get into detail in a later article to regular collections from the day such as "1-Bride Prep, 2-Groom Prep, 3-Ceremony, 4-Portraits, etc" Once all of the collections have been made we'll now drag every image into the corresponding part of the day so that they're easy to locate and so that we're not overwhelmed by the amount of photos. This allows us to edit certain parts of the day in groups instead of just one big group of photos.
Step 5: Getting Ready for the Blog!!
Following the organization process we'll now go thru each part of the day and select photos that will be used for the blog & the slideshow. In here we're looking for some of our favorite photos and enough to tell a story. We don't want to include all of the best because we really want to surprise our couples later on so we'll choose just enough to tell a story and keep them patiently waiting for their entire gallery. After the blog photos are selected they're now copied into another "Collection" where we'll begin the editing process. Once the photos have been edited they will go thru a creative edit. Here we'll go through them one more time and select what we think would look best in Black & White or any other special edit we're feeling works for that image. As soon as all of the blog photos are finished we'll prepare to export them and get them ready to share with our couples and our social media!! Stay tuned because we're going to have an article all about Blogging soon!!
Step 6: Let the Editing Begin
After the blog is completed we are ready to begin editing the entire wedding. We check and adjust Color, Exposure, Contrast, Sharpness and any other settings that fit our style and meet our standards. If images need to be closely retouched they're taken into Photoshop and then back into Lightroom. Every single photo gets finely tuned so if we are delivering 2000 images then all 2000 will have been edited. This is the longest process and this is where organization helps. Personally we like to edit in a "Snowball Effect" form so we'll begin editing the smallest groups of images first until we reach the ones with the most or vice versa. This keeps us motivated as we're finishing them. After each photo has been edited and creative edits have been applied we'll do one last check before exporting and if all is good we're ready for the next step.
Step 7: Exporting while Keeping Organized
After the editing process is completed we'll begin exporting. We'll export all of the photos in their groups to keep things organized. This process is just as important as the first. Exporting the right quality and naming the files correctly is important as this process will make it easier for us to locate photos later. After all of the images have been fully exported we'll do one last check. I like to call this a "speed check." We'll open all of the photos and go through them at a fast rate. Almost as if it's a flip book. This process helps us find any color imperfections or export errors. If everything looks good we'll prepare them for uploading.
Step 8: Upload & Preparing Delivery
As soon as all of the photos are exported and approved we'll upload them to a private gallery. This gallery is what our couples & clients receive. They'll log in a view their entire story from start to finish so well keep the day nicely organized so they can locate their photos quickly, download, share, and relive their beautiful moments. Once the photos have been uploaded we'll get in contact with them to give them the news!!!
Step 9: Albums
We usually give our couples a few weeks to review everything. Once they get back to us we'll begin the album design process. Album designs is an entire new blog post so we'll save this one for later but this process is just as important as photographing the wedding. This is the last real item left with their love story so our couples really take the time to design something unique and special.
By now we hope this article has given you a good idea of our workflow & how important it is. This is the process we follow for every single job and we'll complete them in the order they're photographed. Keeping organized and following everything religiously has really helped us but we're always on the search for a more efficient way to work.