Chapter 2: Delivering The Images
As soon as I have exported the finished images from Lightroom, I upload them to PASS, my online gallery system. When I send the link from the PASS gallery to my client, I email them at the same time, to thank them for choosing me to document their day and to explain how the gallery works (You can find this email in the Bonus section at the end of the course). Usually this is also the point where I make them confirm that I may use their images freely in my portfolio and for my blog.
When the edited files are safely stored in the cloud in PASS and I have double checked that I have the RAW files safely stored on my external hardrive, I format the flash cards so they are ready for a new shoot.
There are so many factors that influence the final number of images I deliver to my clients. Many of the working conditions I need in order to create this work and these numbers, are circumstances that I am able to ensure mostly before the wedding day through my branding and educating my clients.
Here are some real numbers for you to take in (but remember these are my numbers, and this is after 10 years of working and shooting consistently. Many of my colleagues have quite different numbers they work with, this is just my way!)
These are real-life examples from the last wedding season:
1 hour elopement shoot (a 5-10 minute civil ceremony, a quick champagne toast and approximately 30-40 minutes portrait session)
images shot: 272
images edited and delivered: 160
editing time: under 1 hour
2 hour elopement shoot (a short civil ceremony, a quick champagne toast and approximately 1½ hour portrait session)
images shot: 405
images edited and delivered: 253
editing time: 2 hours
4 hour elopement shoot (1 hour getting ready, a short civil ceremony and champagne/cake and approximately 2½ hour portrait session)
images shot: 457 (more time spent driving around to different locations which means fewer images per hour but also more variety in setting and landscape + a mini guided tour of my island)
images edited and delivered: 300
editing time: 3 hours
4 hour wedding shoot (small weddings with around 30-50 guests, incl. 1 hour getting ready, ceremony, 45 minute portrait session and reception)
images shot: 748
images edited and delivered: 499
editing time: 5 hours
Full wedding weekend using my last destination wedding in France as an example (total hours of shooting for the client: 17)
images shot: 2.027
images edited and delivered: 1.146
editing time: 21 hours
how the delivered final 1.146 images were distributed over the 3 days:
Town/mountains/surroundings: 100 (I shot these the day before as I explored the area on my own time and dime, as well as some during the wedding day itself)
Pre-wedding day portrait shoot/hike: 50
Bride getting ready: 167
Groom getting ready: 49 (the guys got ready in just 20 minutes, while I spent at least 2 hours with the bride and her friends and family)
Portraits: 36 (there was only very little time for portraits on the day of because the couple prioritised the portraits on the hike the day before + I had already done a 1 hour portrait session with them a few months before when they had their civil ceremony in Copenhagen)
Day-after brunch: 64 (I was invited as a guest for this last day of the event but brought my camera anyway)
Some factors that influence the final number of images:
-Season and weather! In winter I have basically no light to work with here in the North on overcast days, which means fewer images and longer editing time on indoor images.
-Chemistry and personality of the couple (I explained this in detail in the 'Portrait' chapter
-If there are guests (meaning more interactions, more faces, and more dynamic) then the number of images go up.
-More locations for an elopement session mean more time of the shoot spent driving, less time shooting.
-I have never worked with a second shooter, but obviously if you do then the number of images would be higher.
My turnaround time in the last few years of shooting full day weddings was, during wedding season, around 2 weeks. Now I usually deliver my elopement shoots after 1-2 days all year round.
When I was at my "worst" and busiest in 2012-2014, my turn around time was about 5 weeks and that was only when I stayed up every night editing to meet the deadlines I had promised my clients.
As I became more effective, for awhile I still held on to the images for at least a week even though they were edited and ready to go because I was afraid my clients would consider me sloppy or would think they had paid too much if I did not spend weeks and weeks editing their images. One of the excuses that I myself and so many other wedding photographers used to justify our "high" prices was that the work after the wedding day of meticulously editing hundreds of photos was so time consuming. That was before I was ready to value my work in and of itself. But over time I figured out that my clients did not care one bit! as long as the images were at the same level of quality and consistency as what they had seen on my website and blog when they booked me. What mattered to them most was getting the images as quickly as possible to share with family and friends around the world who could not attend. For awhile I even tried out adding an 'extra' feature on my pricelist which meant I could speed up delivery time for an extra fee. More than 50% of my clients chose this add-on, so I changed my routine. Now I always deliver my images as soon as they are ready, and not once have any of my clients mentioned that they overpaid, on the contrary they see the fast delivery of quality images as a bonus.
I have never watermarked my images, and my clients are free to use them as they like, to make their own books and have them printed. The only thing they are not allowed to do is to alter the visual appearance of the images (that still happens sometimes though, when they for some crazy reason add a filter before posting on Instagram or Facebook) or sell or publish the images without my written consent. All of this is outlined in the contract they receive upon booking me (a copy of which you can find in the Bonus section).
Personally I find that fulfilling print sales is a horrible waste of my time compared to the relatively small profit. So I have never used proofing websites. Although I know that some people, like the highly successful Jonathan Canlas, swears by it to boost his income from each wedding. So if it is a workflow you would love to try I encourage you to go check out his courses or his fantastic book.
For me personally, it is all about keeping it simple. It was the only way I could manage my business while managing my role as a mother. Simple simple simple. Get paid really well to shoot the wedding itself, and minimise every other task after the wedding day.