Chapter 1: Editing
I remember in my first few years of doing wedding photography I really appreciated the more experienced photographers who were willing to share their knowledge. But... while inspiration is important and beautiful, I quickly limited my attention to the photographers who actually shared something specific. Maybe it made no real difference in my business and approach to my work to know what camera they used, exactly what they charged, or the specific number of images they delivered to their clients. But when you are working towards something, most of the time it can feel like you're fumbling along in darkness. If you don't know exactly what goes on at the "top", it can be extremely difficult to know what that looks like, or if it is even something you want. So throughout all of this I will do my very best to be a straightforward and concrete as possible.
My file system:
All of my shoots are stored on external harddrives (a new one for each year) put in folders sorted by date (year/month/day) and the couples' names or a descrption, so for example 2018-08-22 Rachel & Dave
I have my camera set to capture both a large RAW file and a small JPEG. That way I can email a sneak peek of 2-3 JPEGs to my clients right away if they have requested it.
As soon as I am back home, I copy (not move but copy) the files from my cards onto an external harddrive in a folder created per the system mentioned above. In that folder will be both the RAW files and the Jpegs. I never delete any files from my cards until the clients' photos have been edited and uploaded to my cloud based online gallery.
Over the years I have probably worked with 6-7 different styles of editing. In the beginning I worked with Photoshop actions from Totally Rad Lab. But for the past 6+ years I have worked exclusively with presets in Lightroom.
I never use Photoshop anymore. I am all for natural images and tell my clients from the very start (it is even on the FAQ page on my website) that I don't slim waists and arms, remove tattoos, etc. If you work with clients who have a tendency to want retouching, I would highly consider outsourcing that. But any small blemishes like zits etc can easily be removed on close up shots by using the Heal tool in Lightroom.
I have been through multiple sets of presets for Lightroom but for the past 3 years I have been using only two presets:
The LXC 06 B+W from Tribe Archipelago (with grain for night time and reception shots where it adds such a beautiful atmosphere, and with the grain slider at 0 to have 'clean' daytime black/white shots
The LXC 04 C also from Tribe Archipelago but with a few personal changes that I have adapted over time. The preset is very warm and orange'y in its original form which doesn't fit the Nordic light and landscape I mostly work with, so I've made it a bit cooler, lifted the shadows, and brought back the saturation slightly too as I am personally not a fan of too desaturated photos. The dominant colours where I like to shoot are greens and blues, and with my custom adjustments the preset now emphasise this in the most beautiful way.
If you decide to invest in a set of presets you can find a list of all the best creators in the Resources section at the end of this Module as well as a link to a video showing you how to import presets into Lightroom, if you've never worked with the software before.
The key to consistent editing is to shoot RAW files and use presets, and it doesn't matter whether you buy them and tweak them to your taste or create your own from scratch.
When I am ready to edit, I open Adobe Lightroom and import the RAW files.
In Library mode I choose select all and then quickly scroll through to uncheck any files that are completely useless (Like the first photo when moving from indoors to outdoors shooting when I'm adjusting my settings and the exposure is way off in either direction) and import the rest.
Lightroom is set to apply my personal preset colour preset upon importing which saves me a step.
For colour photos I'm normally at a Temperature at around 4500 for outdoor shots, and 3800 for indoor shots. (I know some of my friends who shoot Nikon need completely different temperature settings to achieve a natural look)
My clients know and can see on my blog and website that they will receive a mix of colour and b/w photos. That I will use my personal taste and experience to determine which suits each image better. I make this call based on two things:
The image on its own. Does the colour add to the value of the photo or distract from it? Photos taken in spring in woodland or near big trees will give a not so flattering skintone, one I don't have the patience to fix and will never be able to imitate beautiful white light 100% anyway, I will almost always turn B/W. Intimate close ups between the couple or emotional candid moments between the couple and their guests where the colour distracts from the action/content/connection in the photo, I will almost always turn B/W. I just LOVE grainy B/W photos in the evening. If the light in the getting ready room is bad or yellow-ish turning them B/W will always immediately add class and timelessness to the photos. Whereas outdoors in nature I often find that the colour of the surroundings adds so much life to the image. I would also never turn a photo B/W where the colour of the object is important to the couple. For example, if the bride has chosen a non-white dress I will always prefer to shoot it in a place where I can emphasise her unique choice and showcase the colour of it. Same goes for the bouquet. I will also consider the couple's overall colourscheme and personality. Are they a lively fun loving couple who have chosen lots of colourful details? Then I would never turn alot of their images B/W. If the couple has a more classic muted style and colour palette, they will most likely appreciate the timelessness of beautiful B/W images and it will suit the overall collection of images.
The overall sequence of the images, how they play together as mini-series within the full collection of images and how they might be positioned together in a book later.
I am probably the least technical wedding photographer ever and digging into the details of Lightroom's millions of shortcuts and possibilities is NOT my thing.
But one specific trick has saved me SO much time over the last few years. For some of you this may sound silly and you've already been doing this since the beginning, for others it could be an a-ha moment and a life saver:
Instead of editing one image at a time like I used to do in Photoshop in the "old" days, I now shoot in a way that enables me to batch edit. And since I like a very natural and clean look to my images and don't want to create any artistic effects, I am often able to edit an elopement shoot with an indoor ceremony and a portrait session as if there were only two images. If the ceremony takes place outdoors, I can often edit a whole session of around 200 photos by just adjusting the first image in the series and then use the Sync button to copy those settings to the rest of the images, leaving only minor adjustments to possibly the exposure slider or shadow slider in an image here and there, and straightening the horizon in any images that have the sea in the background.
If I want to Sync the settings of one image to another image in the same setting, I just mark the first image, and then hold down Ctrl while clicking the image I would like to copy to, and click Sync. If I have a whole uninterrupted series of 10 or 20 or more images with similar or identical lighting and background I just mark the edited lead image and then hold Shift while clicking on the last image in the series, which will mark every image inbetween the two, and then click Sync.
When I am done editing the photos in Lightroom I export them at 300 dpi into a sub folder under the main 2018-08-22 Rachel & Dave and call it 'Exp' (for exported). I will then rename all the edited files with my name and the clients' initials, fx RD_CamillaJorvadPhoto so that I can always be identified as the photographer when the files start to make their way around the web on Facebook, wedding blogs etc. If it is an elopement I will just leave them as lose files, but for bigger wedding days I then divide the files into new subfolders named after the phase of the day, like Getting Ready, Ceremony, Portraits, Reception, Dancing.
I then go back into Lightroom and export all the files again but this time at 150dpi and limited to width 1500, which are the files I will use for Instagram, and my website.
I also have a permanent folder on my desktop called 'Favourites' for that specific year. To this folder I copy my absolute favourites (no more than 5 per wedding) from every wedding right away. So that by the end of the year I have the best of the best for my Year Review blogpost. And my very best images at my fingertips in case I need any promotional images and to update my portfolio for the new season.