Picture yourself in this everyday situation: you've just finished putting a lot of work into getting the family camera ready to use. You made sure that everyone was dressed to perfection, the shoot went off without a hitch, and now you can't wait to get your hands on the finished product!
When you ask the photographer about turnaround times, and they tell you that it will be several weeks before you receive your images back, you can't help but feel disappointed. You might be wondering why it takes such a long time to complete. Does it take a photographer a few weeks to edit my gallery if they do it themselves?
What exactly is editing, and why does it take so long before I can see my finished photos? This is a question that is asked quite frequently, and it is an excellent question! If you used the services of a professional photographer, there is a good chance that they derive the majority of their income, if not all of it, from their photography business.
To keep a business operating efficiently and entice customers to return on a regular basis, certain tasks need to be completed on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis, just like any other kind of enterprise. If you need advice on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography.
If the photographer was only responsible for "your wedding," it should not take more than a week or two, and it should not take more than a few days, for you to receive the images from the wedding. This would not be considered the norm for any photographer to do in the vast majority of situations. In addition to concentrating on your breathtaking wedding, they need to pay attention to their company as well as the needs of the many other customers for whom they are creating photographs and products.
I have no doubt that each of you has been informed of this by your photographer. After I have finished editing the images, I will send them back to you. It's a common phrase, and you've probably even nodded your head in agreement with it before, but do you really understand what it means? The majority of people's photo editing expertise is limited to the application of an Instagram filter to an image captured on their mobile device. I suppose you could call this an edit, but it's not what your photographer will be doing to your photos when they're finished with them (and if they are, you should run in the other direction).
Although it's common knowledge that this is the case, few people actually bring it up in casual conversation. Before I go any further, I just want to make one thing perfectly clear. I'm not suggesting that there is a large number of photographers out there who are purposely trying to mislead you; rather, I'm suggesting that the majority of us tell ourselves "little white lies" about our photographs. The extent to which photographers post-process their photographs is one of the many topics that lends itself well to favourable interpretation.
I'm not suggesting for one second that anyone is trying to be dishonest on purpose; most of the time, all we're talking about is the absence of a few minor finishing touches here and there. So what exactly is the big deal here? To tell you the truth, there isn't really a major issue here.
However, I remember how frustrating it was when I was first starting out to try to figure out how much of a great image was due to the photographer's skill and how much was due to the gear, the processing, or the falling. It takes time, patience, and practise to become a great photographer, so it is understandable why more experienced photographers might want to protect their trade secrets.
What the Heck Happens After a Session?
After we've finished our time together, I'll go home and remove the memory card from my camera. After that, I make sure that your pictures are backed up in a number of different places by uploading them to my hard drive.
Post Processing in Modern Photography
Post-processing is typically regarded as a phenomenon that has only emerged in the era of digital photography, according to the conventional viewpoint. This is true to some extent; however, we must be careful not to lump together the various forms of image manipulation into the same category. Despite the age of the film, it was still possible to make adjustments to fundamental aspects of the final image, including the aperture, the shutter speed, as well as ISO, white balance, and the image's overall aesthetic.
It is true to say that these adjustments were less convenient than they are today (you had to physically swap out your film, etc.), but we shouldn't confuse the convenience of modern technology with any kind of deception in any way, shape, or form. Despite the capabilities of today's cameras and other equipment, it is still necessary to "adjust" the final image in order to achieve something that is more similar to reality. This has been the case since the beginning of photography. The fact of the matter is that every single photograph is altered in some way, even by the most skilled photographers.
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So How Much?
When you are just starting out, one of the first questions you will want answered is, "How much processing do most people do, and how do you know if you are doing too much?" When I first started taking photography seriously, this was a question that consumed a significant amount of my time, and I still find myself thinking about it. Here is a brief rundown of my typical post-processing routine, as well as a few examples of how my photographs typically appear before and after being processed, in order to provide you with an idea of how a photographer typically works.
My most important piece of advice is to perform only the amount of post-processing that is required to realise the desired appearance. If you have a good idea to start with and your objective is to create an image that is as realistic as possible to the world around you, then you should be able to accomplish this goal rather quickly. If you want to achieve a result that is more artistic, it is possible that you will need to spend more time on it.
My basic post-processing workflow is relatively straightforward as a result of the fact that the majority of the photographs I take are either travel-related or portraits. The following five steps are what I use to take almost all of my photos, though there are times when I use additional steps to achieve particular effects. To let you know, I capture all of my images using the RAW file format, and Lightroom is the editing software that I prefer to use.
- Crop & Straighten: To clean up and correct any issues with composition.
- White Balance: To correct any colour casts and ensure the image colour is as accurate as possible.
- Exposure: To improve the overall tonality and dynamic range of the image.
- Contrast & Clarity: To bring back any missing punch and bring out emphasis and detail.
- Sharpening: Where necessary, the last step is to apply selective sharpening to bring out any critical information.
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The Two Minute Rule
When you are first getting started, it is absolutely necessary to devote some of your time to developing your processing skills. On the other hand, as you start to get the hang of this, it is absolutely necessary to start becoming more efficient. Not only will doing so prevent you from squandering hours in front of your computer screen, but it is also the most effective way to reduce the possibility of over-processing. The "Two Minute Rule" is without a doubt the most helpful piece of professional advice that I have ever been given, and it is something that has fundamentally altered the way that I approach photography.
The general principle behind this recommendation is to keep the amount of time spent processing any given image to no more than two minutes. Imagine if you only needed two minutes to complete everything that was necessary to make an idea look exactly how you wanted it to. If an image requires more than two minutes of work in post-processing, you should ask yourself whether it is worth the effort to work on it.
I'm not going to waste time trying to persuade you that I observe this rule in an observant manner. In spite of this, it is an enticing way to concentrate your post-processing efforts, and I would strongly encourage you to think about incorporating it into your regular routine. Putting a time limit on how long you spend in post-processing will prevent you from wasting time trying to save bad photos and will provide you with a general idea of when you may have gone too far.
The 'So What?' for Beginners
What am I going to tell you if you are just starting out in post-processing or are someone who is just getting started? Simply put, the majority of the images you see will have some sort of post-processing applied to them. The majority of photographers will edit their photographs in some way, whether it be to compensate for the shortcomings of their gear, to fix errors, or to give their pictures a particular "look."
It is not productive to worry about what other people are doing, but it is productive to make sure you are doing the right things in order to create the images you are looking for. Your primary focus should be on acquiring the skills that will assist you in producing the photograph you envision, and then making use of those skills to hone both your style and your workflow in order to become an even more skilled photographer. If you manage to pull this off, it won't be long before you can start embellishing the details of your photographs as well.
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How Long Should it Take to Edit My Pictures?
Here are a few things that I usually implement when I have boatloads of pictures to edit that help me stay efficient in my photo editing:
Keep an "editor's" mindset.
I am aware that up to this point I have used the word "edit" in a very casual manner; however, I would like for you to take a moment to reflect on the meaning of the word "edit." "Edit" can mean "cut material". It is also possible to mean "correcting errors," which is the term that is commonly used to describe the process of improving the appearance of photographs so that they are more pleasing to the eye. Nevertheless, "correcting errors" is probably a better term to use than "processing." Processing refers to the act of following a series of actions directed towards a specific goal, in this case the aim being to improve the appearance of my photographs.
Therefore, if you put yourself in the shoes of a "photo editor" who is sifting through content to select only the very best images, you can cut down on the amount of work that you will ultimately need to complete in the processing stage. Just give it some thought. The time it takes will be reduced in proportion to the number of images that need to be processed. Having the mindset of an editor is one of the most important factors in becoming more efficient in post-processing.
I took 255 pictures of this event, but only decided to process 73 of them because I felt they were good enough to share. And out of those 73 photos, there were fewer than twenty that did a good job of capturing the event and were clear, in focus, emotionally expressive, and well composed, among other qualities. Therefore, I can improve the effectiveness of my use of time by adopting the mindset of an editor and eliminating everything that isn't the very best.
When a picture is imported into Lightroom, one of several presets that I have created is automatically applied to that picture. These default settings include the naming of files, information about metadata, and the ability to develop files automatically. Whenever there is information that I want to be added to every picture or edit, I find that I end up making it over and over to all of my photos.
Having it automatically applied during import saves a lot of time in the long run, though. After import, I always go back and make small adjustments to the development settings. Even so, the starting line is typically a great deal nearer to the finish line than it would be in the event that the preset hadn't been applied right from the start.
When working with multiple images in Lightroom, you can synchronise a large number of settings at once. After I have processed a view to how I want it, I check to see if the subsequent few photographs were taken under lighting conditions that are similar to the one I just processed. If that is the case, I will be able to synchronise the development settings so that I can get those photographs much closer to looking their best in a shorter amount of time. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but it can save a lot of clicks that would otherwise be repeated over and over again.
Follow a consistent post-processing pattern.
I've spent a lot of time over the years figuring out what constitutes the most effective workflow for me in terms of post-processing, including every stage of the process from import to export. When I'm working under a tight deadline, I stick to this workflow so that I can get through the photos as quickly as possible. I check to see that each of my presets is being used, which is essentially the same thing. After they have been imported, all of the pictures will have the relevant location metadata added to them by me.
After that, I use the flagging system that comes with Lightroom to "edit down" the images to only the very best of them. Only those photographs are put through the processing system. I will, if I have the time, mark, star, rate, keyword, and add items to collections as required. After that, I export them utilising presets once more. Even though I don't always stick to this workflow, it's the one that comes to mind whenever I need to get something done quickly.
Stage one of the editing process is the culling of unwanted images.
This is an issue that may present challenges on occasion. When trying to get the best angle, focus, etc., a photographer might take several pictures of the same pose or slight variations on the pose. There are times when the images are comparable to one another and all of them are of high quality; in these cases, the photographer needs to choose the best one from the group.
Remember that not every image of you will be a masterpiece; that the shutter snaps quickly and can catch you in mid-blink or mid-speech; and that it is easy to eliminate images that are out of focus, have funny faces in them, or are taken with your eyes closed.
Stage two: adjusting the RAW files to produce the best colour, contrast, sharpness and exposure.
The vast majority of photographers, though not all of them, shoot in RAW in order to maximise their ability to create an edit that is in line with their vision. What exactly is a RAW file, then? A RAW file is a collection of data that has not been processed in any way.
This indicates that the file has not been modified in any way by the camera or the computer, including being compressed or manipulated in any way. The majority of people who use a camera will shoot in jpeg mode, which causes the file size to be compressed while also adding colour and contrast to the image. As a result, the image typically looks fantastic immediately after being taken by the camera. This is not the case with a RAW file; all of the data is preserved so that it can be manipulated in the future to realise its full potential.
In order to accomplish this, it would be beneficial for you to have access to photo editing software such as Photoshop or Lightroom. Following the selection of the photographs that your photographer intends to edit and the completion of the RAW conversion process for those photographs, the next step in the process is to style your photographs. We have an exclusive range of wedding photography Mornington Peninsula services. Check them out here.
Stage three: adding the magic.
Every photographer will, over time, hone their own distinct approach to shooting and post-processing their images. It is what attracts you to the work that they do. In most cases, the photographer's calling card is the consistency of their editing, but everyone has a slightly different perspective on what constitutes consistency. I do all of my editing in Photoshop.
I highly recommend it. But I like it because everything is in one place, and I don't have to switch back and forth between programmes, which is something that some photographers consider to be a more complicated and time-consuming process than using a programme like Lightroom. There are certain activities that can only be completed in Photoshop but not in Lightroom.
So, why a few weeks?
Excellent question. Every photographer keeps an editing queue, which is a list of sessions that needs to be edited in order to be completed. The amount of time it takes your photographer to turn around your photos will also vary depending on how busy he or she is, the number of photoshoots that are scheduled each week, and the season. The fall is our busiest time of year, with weddings and family gatherings alike. There isn't much similarity between any of my weeks during the fall.
On occasion, I'll schedule a day or two of mini sessions, in addition to sessions on the days immediately preceding and following them. I hope to one day photograph the sunrise and the sunset. As a result of the fact that I provide an additional styling service, I engage in more conversation with each of my customers. I keep a running list of clients in the editing queue, and I work through it in the order that the sessions are completed.
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How Long is it reasonable to expect before I get my images back?
The question "It's been eight months, and I still have not received my wedding photos, is this normal?" appears quite frequently in the posts that brides make in wedding-related groups on Facebook. I am going to venture a guess and say that, despite popular belief, this is not the case. There is no valid explanation for why your photographs are taking so much time, unless your photographer has been sidelined due to serious illness or some other problem that prevents them from working.
There is a one-week to three-month window of time in which it is reasonable to expect to receive your photographs. During the high season (May to October), it may take significantly longer for you to receive your photographs; however, your photographer should be in contact with you and should have no trouble responding to any questions you may have regarding deadlines. I can always count on the months of August through October being my busiest. Due to the fact that I also photograph families and do mini sessions in the fall, I spend a lot of time editing like a crazed person.
The bottom line is that communication is extremely important; therefore, there may be reason for concern if your photographer avoids your questions or does not respond to your emails. It is never a good idea, however, to bother your photographer on a daily basis by either asking when your pictures will be finished or if they have communicated with you about the situation.
Remember that the majority of the work will be done after your wedding day and not on the actual wedding day itself. This means that you will spend hours perfecting your images and getting them to you, which is a lengthy process. We understand that it is difficult for you to wait for the wedding images to be delivered to you; you want to reminisce about the joy and beauty of the day. However, as is the case with many things in life, good things come to those who wait, and it is worth it to have those memories be as perfect as possible.