Intro:

So, this is going to be a little bit of a different kind of tutorial compared to my usual stuff as is going to be focusing less on camera operation and more of my post production workflow. I am going to focus on how do I go about processing my photos from a kind of overall perspective, meaning I’m not going to go in the specifics of how I individually edit photos but moreover how I keep a consistent style throughout the shoot and how I organize my work into a cohesive unit. I’ll be using a full day wedding where I had 5000+ photos from myself and my second photographer, both using multiple cameras with multiple lenses as an example in this video, kind of the toughest sort of shoot to go through, however the process that I used to go through my photos is the same that I’d use for any sort of event or shoot where I have 1000 or more photos to go through.

In this tutorial as well I’ll be using a windows computer and as the title implies the only software that I’ll be using is Adobe Lightroom Classic, though this workflow will also work in lightroom CC, however it just will look a little different. I use two monitors at the same time as I find using multiple displays is essential for my workflow, it is very doable to work on a laptop or single display, but to increase your performance, having a second display is ideal. To make my life easier though I do use a device called a loopdeck+ which is essentially just an additional type of keyboard that you can use to help make your editing workflow a little bit easier however it’s 100% not necessary about a welcome addition if you want to speed up your process slightly and make editing a little more intuitive with analog knobs.

I am going to break this tutorial up into different parts, starting off with importing the photos into Lightroom, organizing the photos into the different times of the event, sorting the photos by what lens or camera they were shot on, then I’ll move on to my first pass on culling the photos, after that I’ll talk about getting started on editing, then doing a final pass on culling and choosing the highlights and lastly exporting in uploading the photos online.

Importing:

So the first and obvious step when editing my photos is taking the photos from the cameras and putting them into my computer, I put all the photos from all the cameras into one massive folder because I like to do all the organization once I get into Lightroom. So, I then take that folder in bring it into Lightroom and simply drag and drop it into my library this process can take awhile and once I get all the photos imported, but afterwards I always take a moment to make sure that I actually imported all of them so I’ll do just a quick one over to make sure that they’re all there.

Organizing:

Once I get all the photos with into Lightroom the next step is to make folders within that folder that I imported, all you need to do is simply right click on the folder that you imported and then create new folder within that folder and then name them appropriately. I like to start with the bride preparation, so what I’ll do is name it ‘1 – bride prep’ I like to use a number at the start because for file structuring it’ll follow the number at the start, putting it first which is where I want it because it’s at the start of the day. The next folder that I’ll make is going to be ‘2 – detail photos’ than ‘3 – groom prep’ and then continue on with this process until I have a folder for all the different settings of the day. The last thing that I’ll do is make a folder called ‘0 – unorganized photos’, this will be the folder that I transfer all the photos into before I start divvying them up into the other folders because it makes it a little bit easier to see how many photos do you have left to separate.

How you choose to break up the photos is based on your personal preference, in some events will be small enough that you don’t need to do this step however I find that it’s very important for my personal workflow to be able to break up the work into a little bit more manageable chunks it also for editing I find it’s much easier when the photos are grouped together based on the lighting situations that are similar so that when I’m editing the photos I’m able to keep a consistent white balance and brightness between the photos. Once I have all the folders set up though I just get going on putting all the photos into the appropriate folders, this step can take awhile depending on how many photos that you have however it saves you a lot of headache down the road when you’re going through the photos so I find getting it very organized off of the start is useful.

One last valuable thing that I like to do is to mark the photos by what lens I am using. So I use the library filter bar in Lightroom to filter by lens mark the photos with a color based on the lens that I’m using just so at a glance rather than having to read the metadata on the photo I can just see the colour in know that it was shot on a specific lens.

Culling:

Now that I have all the photos organized, I can finally get on to culling, or choosing what photos to edit, which is for myself the most difficult step. Thankfully all the organization will already start to pay off during this stage because we at least already have a good structure and overall picture of how the event played out so we know roughly how many photos will want to edit from each section of the day.

This next step is essential, the process that I used for culling is by using flags within Lightroom, I again used the filter bar and I choose to show only the photos that are flagged or unflagged and then photos that I mark as rejected I have hidden, this is a very simple and straightforward process because if I would like to keep a photo I don’t do anything and I go on to the next photo however if I would like to get rid of a photo the shortcut in Lightroom to mark a photo for rejection is ‘R’, and vice versa if there’s a photo that I particularly like I will either rate the photo with a certain number of stars or I will use the ‘~’ key to flag the photo as one of my favourites.

Using this foundation all I do is just simply get started on going through all the photos individually and marking them as rejected or not. the benefit of using this workflow for your photos is that it’s non destructive so you’re not deleting the photos as you go you save that for when you’re done editing all the photos so that way in case you notice something later down the road such as one of the photos that you thought was in focus was not in focus in you accidentally rejected the one that wasn’t focus you can always turn off the filter hiding rejected photos in simply undo the rejection and you’re good to go. Overall though you basically just have to just grind through all the photos, there are other programs such as photo mechanic out there which can help improve the speed at which your computer processes raw photos to improve load times and such however for myself, I find using Lightroom for everything is the easiest system so that’s what I use still.

Editing:

Once I finished culling the photos though its time to edit, and thankfully compared to the previous steps the editing process is the most straightforward. I simply go through each folder that I have made so far, and typically what I’ll do is I’ll start editing one lens at a time, starting with the lens that I used most during that portion of the event and then find the editing that work for that lenses profile and then move on to a different lens and copy the edit that I used for the previous set of photos as a base to start editing those photos. This is also where all the organization that we’ve been doing in the previous steps really pays off because a lot of things can change how a photo looks including different lighting conditions, different rooms, different subjects, different angles and different lenses. But because the photos were so nicely organized in the previous steps all we need to do to really kind of churn through these photos is to go through them as we have them organized and editing them shouldn’t be that difficult because they are already grouped by environment, subject and time of day.

With that all said though the process of editing is a very tedious task which is why you charge money for taking photos it will take you days depending on how many photos that you have. The average wedding does take me a few days of straight work to get through editing all the photos and there’s no real way around that if you want to maintain the quality of your work. Depending on the situation I usually working from the ground up while editing, though I do have my own presets that I make for my own photos, so much of editing depends on the lighting situation and the colour profile of the room though I do like to use a very consistent tone curve when possible to maintain a consistent black point and white point in my photos and as much as possible throughout in edit I try and use a similar look so that when I do deliver the photos they have a consistent theme with the editing.

Deleting Rejected Photos:

The last step now is deleting all the photos that we didn’t edit so all you do is go to select all the photos and then clicked the ‘ctrl key + backspace’ And then choose to permanently delete all the photos this will get rid of them off your hard drive now that you know you never will need them again. I like to keep all the raw version of my photos that I did edit so that down the road in case I need to use them for marketing purposes I have them.

Sorting:

Once I have completed all the editing though the last thing I’m going to do is sort the photos, and I know after all the sorting that I did at the start of this video it’s a little bit confusing that I do more at the end however the reason for this is even though a lot of the photos are often organized by the chronological order which makes editing easier, but when I’m delivering the photos I like to have them organized in a way that makes the most sense. For instance say I had multiple angles of the first kiss and even though one of those photos was taken first, the second one might be a little bit nicer so I’ll bump it above the other photo, or during preparation photos often there’s a lot of group photos taken throughout the morning however I like to put those all in one kind of chunk so that it’s easier for my clients to simply see individuals photos and then group photos separately.

The last step I’d like to do is to go through and find all my favorite photos to include in kind of a ‘best of’ or ‘highlights folder’. Thankfully, I’ve been doing this throughout the editing process already by flagging my favorite photos with the ‘~’ key, so all I need to do is select the master folder and then sort by the flagged photos rather than simply the unflagged and flagged, and it will show you all the flagged favorite photos.

I do this because when dealing with an event as largest this one where I finished with 1200 photos I like to be able to have 50 or so that the client is able to show their friends and family a more digestible glimpse at the day without having to spend an hour to look through all the photos, because realistically even though we will put in all the effort to edit all these photos, will be much more familiar with the whole catalog because we’ve seen all of them however the client won’t know instantly all the best photos so by taking that step of picking the favourites it’ll make it not only much easier for the client to share your work but also put your best foot forward when they are showing your work to other potential clients.

Exporting:

The last step is the exporting process and this is a rather dry topic, however it is very important because improperly exporting your photos can result in delivering terrible content which is not something that you want to do after all this work. So all I do is I simply select all the photos that I would like to export and I have a preset in my export menu already made for this but I’ll show you what settings I use when exporting that worked best for me. The first option is the export location and I choose it to go in the same folder that the original photo is from in, this will split the photos up into the folder structure that we’ve made earlier in the editing process. I also choose to put these exported photos into their own folder called final edits, this will make finding the photos much easier and keep them all in one spot.

With regards to file naming, I choose to have a custom name, which you can simply type in yourself with the text {Sequence # (1)>>} – {Folder Name>>} and this will nicely organize the photos based on the sequence that we put them in rather than organizing them by their filename as well as also name them based on what folder there in because again we nicely named these folders already earlier in the editing process. You can choose to add more information here such as the resolution that the photos are or the original file name if you would like, however I’m a little bit more minimalist and like having short filenames.

With regards to the file type I save the files as JPEG images because this is the most universally accessible file type and for clients it’s the easiest to work, and unless they have specific needs in my experience this is the easiest format to work in. I don’t limit the file size of the images and I export them at 100% quality, though I do limit the short edge of the image 4320 pixels as well as keeping the DPI to 300, which is standard for print. Unless the client is going to be printing out posters at 300 DPI this resolution is very acceptable, and it keeps my photos at a relatively standardized file size of 7-10mb.

For rest of the settings everything is not terribly exciting I do not do any post sharpening because I do that already while I’m editing, the only copyright data that I include is that I took the photos, I don’t put a watermark on my photos and I don’t have any post processing done. So, the last thing you need to do is simply click export and then wait for your photos to render! This part can take upwards of an hour or more depending on your computer’s processing power my baby here is a beast however even she has some issues when processing this many photos and can be locked up for a while.

Uploading:

The last piece of the puzzle is uploading the photos to whatever photo sharing platform that you use so that you can deliver them to the client. The platform that I prefer to use is called pixieset, which is one of the most popular ones out there and it allows you to organize your photos very nicely into a gallery to share with clients. Uploading the photos is very simple and I used the same naming structure for the photos that I did in my editing process and I simply drag and drop the photos into the appropriate gallery folder. this process again can take a decently long period of time depending on your Internet speed however it’s very hands off process an you can keep editing other photos while this is happening thankfully because the processing power is very minimal for uploading photos as it’s limited by network speed. But once you’re done the uploading process you’re done you can deliver the photos to the client and rest easy knowing that the great editing process has been completed and your contract has been fulfilled.

Conclusion:

That is it for the tutorial I hope you found this process that I use helpful. It might not be the fastest one around however I find it works for me and allows me to edit in an intuitive way that delivers a very consistent look across my portfolio and because I’m not a full time photographer I find organizing the photos into the different folders that I have allows me to easily kind of piece-meal the editing process into a more manageable size.