In my last blog post I reflected on a couple of weddings I photographed last year (click here to read). I learned a lot from shooting those weddings but also in bringing together a large selection of photographs into a package. In this post I write about the work that I did after the day of the wedding.
Years ago I couldn't understand why good photographers charged so much money for weddings, but having photographed a few I can now see why. Photographing the wedding day is challenging and there is pressure to capture moments so you need to be prepared, but the actual day of the wedding flys by and before you know it the day is over. I found that the bulk of the work begins when you get to the computer and start editing the photos.
I would start off by importing all of the photos into Adobe Lightroom (software I use for cataloguing and editing all my photos) and have a good look through them all.
Narrowing down several hundred photos is quite easy at first as I have been able to spot photos that haven't worked out quickly (e.g. the photo might be under/over exposed, too blurry, out of focus or just not that interesting in terms of what is happening or in composition). I would be left with photos that immediately stand out as good photos and others that are usable in terms of sharpness and lighting, but deciding whether to keep or discard certain photos becomes trickier because something that might not mean a lot to me could be meaningful to the bride and groom. Initially I would hold on to these photos and make a decision on them further in the editing process as I become more familiar with the whole collection.
Once that selection was narrowed down I began the process of editing the photos which involves adjusting exposure, contrast, colour and various other options. Initially I will edit photos in black and white as I find it easier to make adjustments for exposure and contrast in that way, and then I will go back to colour to make further adjustments.
I find that when I think I have finished editing a photo, I could come back to it minutes, hours or even days later and see adjustments I need to make that I didn't see at the time so it is a lengthy process that evolves.
I shoot using RAW files which is an uncompressed file format that gives you a huge amount of flexibility for editing files, far superior to shooting JPEG files. This means when it comes to making the adjustments that I want I have more flexibility for pushing the photos in the direction I want to take them.
Below are a few examples of 'Before' (left) vs. 'After' (right) side-by-side comparisons in Lightroom. To me editing is about enhancing the photo by making gradual subtle changes until the photo looks right.
When I was happy with the editing I would order and rename the photos using a program called Bulk Renaming Utility to save time. It's free and can be download by clicking here.
Looking at the image of this tool might be a bit bewildering at first, but it's quite straightforward when you give it a go. In the above example I am changing files named 'Andrew & Nicola's Wedding - Colour - XXX.jpg' (left column) to 'AWILSONPHOTOGRAPHYBLOG - Colour - XXX.jpg' (middle column highlighted in green) by entering what I want to change in the boxes marked 'Replace' and 'With'. By highlighting the files you want to rename you see a preview of the changes you want to make in real-time.
The first reason I do this is because I have been using two cameras that name files as DV8AXXXX and IMG_XXXX. This disjoints them in folders when arranged by name which is a default method of arranging files on computers but also on DVD players.
Secondly I find that making subtle changes to the flow of photos can help tell the story of the day. For example I would take photos of the cake early on when I could, but the actual cutting of the cake could be several hours later. When it came to ordering the photos I would place the earlier cake photos with the photos of cutting the cake so they were not disjointed. Renaming of files is needed for this.
Thirdly I feel that file names such as would be better as "His and Her's Wedding - Colour - XXX". I have typically delivered 200-300 photos, both in colour and black & white so this can be a bit of a job.
Once the photos were named, ordered and burned to disc I turned my attention to making some form of packaging to house the discs. I didn't want to hand discs off in a basic case so I made DVD boxset-style inspired cases. I had not made anything like this before so I learned from each one I made.
For each box I tried to take into consideration colour themes used by each couple for their wedding such as in their clothing, bits of decoration on seating or invitations. I would put this into the colour of text (which was screenprinted by my girlfriend), and then added this in different ways in the later boxes.
For the final box I took inspiration from seeing my girlfriend make artist books in the past and wanted to make something that folded open and held the discs as a single unit. I added magnetic strips to the flap and the right-hand side of the box that meet on closing so it would shut neatly. As an extra finishing touch I added printed labels to the front of the discs, one in colour and one in black and white to illustrate the content on each disc.
When I reached the satisfying end of completing a large project I would wrap up the boxes in a healthy amount of bubble wrap and send the couples a photo of the parcel to let them know it was all finished and as a tease!
The best part of doing all this work follows when each couple tells you how happy they are with the photos and that you've done a good job. It can be quite easy to lose sight of that end point when you've spent hours on something like this but in the end it is worth it to help create lasting memories.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading about this process and found it insightful. If you have any thoughts or feedback then please feel free to leave them in the comments section at the bottom of this page and if you want to subscribe to future updates from this site then subscribe below.