So you may think that with digital photography all you have to do is download the photos and you’re done right? Wrong. I want to outline here my workflow so people can understand all that goes into their professional photos after the shoot. For this example I’ll use my standard wedding workflow.
When I get home at 1:30AM dog tired, that’s when the real work begins. I won’t sleep until the photos are downloaded and backed up. The first step is to import them onto my computer from the memory cards. I have a mix of cards from 16GB to 2GB so I’m often importing from about 6-8 cards and about 40GB of data. That can take up to a half hour. I shoot my photos in RAW format, which are the largest possible digital negatives, so that’s why they take up so much space. Once the images are safe on my hard drive I can go to sleep, right? Wrong. Next, I back them up to another hard drive, just in case the one I put them on fails. I also leave the images on the cards as long as possible as yet another backup. Once this is done I can go to sleep right? Technically I could, and probably should, but in reality I’m much too excited to see the photos I just took so I often spend some time looking through them to see how they came out.
Next comes the selection process. Considering I can shoot over 2500 images at a wedding, my next step is to pick out the best 500 or so. I use a program called Lightroom to view and mark rejects and selects. This is a loooooong process and is mentally pretty exhausting. Imagine picking the best photo out of five similar ones, now do that three hundred more times. I usually do this over a few sittings and continually whittle my selection down to a more and more concise collection. Overall, it can take anywhere from four to six hours.
Once I’ve picked out my selects I back up the photos again since this information is saved in the photos. Here I will rename the photos so they have a logical sequence according to the time they were taken. The next step is color correction. Since weddings take place all over the place and in mixed lighting situations, I’ve got to go back and correct the colors for any photos that may need it. This is subjective and I use my experience going all the way back to color correcting color prints in the darkroom to get the photos where I want them to be aesthetically . At this point I also adjust the brightness, contrast and crop of any images that require it. This is where I take the RAW captures and make them into your finished photos. This can be equated to the digital darkroom, before we just had digital negatives, now we have finished digital files. Then guess what? You guessed it! I back them up yet again. It’s worth mentioning at this point that I’ve got two sets of backups going. The original, unedited and uncorrected captures, and the edited and color corrected files. Now they’re all still RAW so my next step is to batch them out as JPEG’s which is a more universally accepted and smaller file format. Once I’ve batched them out I back up the JPEG’s. Now I’ve got the original RAW imports, the edited RAW’s and the finished JPEG’s all backed up to multiple drives. I’m not good at math, but I knwo that’s a LOT of data.
The next step in the process is to upload the photos to Pictage. When I booked the wedding I created an event with Pictage and shared that link with the bride and groom that they could, in turn, share with their family and friends. Once the photos are uploaded, which I usually run overnight since it take s while, I can categorize them on Pictage and release them to the bride and groom. From there they can review the photos, remove any that they don’t want to share, and then release them to their guests. Once they release the event then Pictage will email the guests to let them know that it’s available. Pictage is a wonderful company and not to be confused with Snapfish or any of the other online photo sharing sites. Pictage caters to professional photographers so their quality is top notch. I’ve been making photographs for a long time and they still impress me with their quality and customer service.
Next steps? From here the bride and groom can order whatever prints they like from Pictage or work with me to create an album or other large format photos. Within their site the bride and groom have the ability to create folders so this is the first step to creating an album. Once they’re picked out their favorites I can begin the design process. Albums are proofed online and once they receive client approval I send them out to be printed.I also have a number of avenues to order professional quality canvas and traditional prints and I always work with vendors that cater to professional photographers for the highest quality photos possible.
What’s next? Yep, I back it up again. This time I put it on a hard drive that gets stored off site so, God forbid, anything happens to my house, they’re safe in another place. It’s also worth noting that the JPEG’s I upload the Pictage are also archived indefinitely so if NY falls into the ocean the photos are STILL safe and sound somewhere.
I hope this has been informative and not too techy. If you have any questions about my workflow, just let me know since I’m sure I left out lots of minutia for brevity’s sake.