Today I’m going to talk about something so dear to my heart: organizing. :)
When I first began shooting weddings I had no idea how to have an organized workflow. I cringe when I look back into my old files and see so much non-organization. It took awhile, but I think I have mastered it (in my own opinion, of course). When I was working on perfecting my workflow I had to keep in mind my turn-around time, 1 week. Yes, I know – that probably sounds insane to other photographers and other people in general but that is how I do my business. I couldn’t imagine taking two months to return photos to clients – not saying that’s a bad workflow, but because I couldn’t handle the anxiety and stress. I work my butt off so I can not have more added stress. If I took longer than a week, then I would get backed up with other sessions and other weddings. For example, in the fall I have two weekends where I have two weddings back-to-back (Friday and Saturday) and then the following weekends I have weddings on each of those Saturdays. If it took me two months to return photos I would be working well through Christmas. No thanks! So, keep in mind when you read this that this system may not work for everybody or sound appealing to anyone else, but it’s just what I do. You do not have to do this by any means. :)
1. As soon as Paul and I get home (or back to our hotel like this past weekend if it’s out-of-town) I insert one of Paul’s SD cards and one of my Compact Flash cards (we have different cameras hence the different memory cards) into my computer and copy onto my computer. Each wedding has its own folder (with the bride and groom’s name) when I begin this part of the workflow (we shoot in RAW so transferring files takes a looooong time – I’ll write another post on RAW vs. JPEG sometime):
2. Once all of the photos are transferred into each of our folders (we each use roughly 2 memory cards, sometimes 3 – so this process can take a couple of hours), I then make more folders into the wedding folder to organize the day better (it roughly looks like this, depending on the wedding):
I then go through Paul’s RAW files, organize them into the correct folders, then do mine (or whichever first, doesn’t matter…:)).
3. I use Photoshop for editing, resizing, etc., but Lightroom is awesome for culling photos, which is what I do next. I import each folder one by one into Lightroom, starting with the 1 – GETTING READY folder. I go through every photo in the folder, delete the doubles, blurry, etc., change the white balance or exposure if needed (you can only do this with RAW files, not JPEG), and then export them back into the 1 -GETTING READY folder (or whichever folder I’m on), only in a separate JPEG folder. I keep all of the RAW files until the couple has received their photos, just in case.
3. Once all of the photos have been culled, I start editing (tip: if you have your white balance nailed in camera, your editing will go much faster – another post about that will come later). I start with grabbing one of my favorite photos (usually one of the bride and groom) and edit that one. Once I decide on an edit for that photo, I record my editing so I can do the same steps on every other photo.
4. To make editing go faster I open about 10 images at a time into Photoshop (starting with the 1 -GETTING READY folder). I edit them one-by-one using the steps I recorded, save them into the EDITED folder – 1st as a color image, 2nd as a b/w image (all of my couples receive both color and b/w for every image), and move on to the next 10 images. I repeat this process until I’ve gone through every single folder. After a folder has been edited, I back it up on my external hard drive (it’s organized the same way as my computer). The editing process usually takes 2-3 days, however so far this year it has only taken 2 at the most – oh happy days!
5. After all of my photos are edited, I begin to blog. I go through each folder and copy and paste my favorites into another folder called NIKKI’S FAVORITES. I then resize them for the blog and save them in another separate folder called 0 – BLOG. I write the blog post (sometimes I write the post as soon as I get home – that way the details are fresh in my mind) upload the photos, then save the post so it’s ready to be published on selected date (typically on Fridays).
6. I then select about 8 photos to use for their Facebook album (one would already have been on Facebook for the sneak peek – I do sneak peeks the morning after the wedding), insert them into my logo frame, resize, and upload to Facebook with links directing people to the blog post.
7. I make sure everything is backed up on my external hard drive. I also burn every folder (not the RAW files) onto DVD’s (this usually takes up 3-4 4gb DVDs), label them, and put in my huge DVD binder. I know DVD is old school now, but it helps me sleep better knowing I have at least 2 copies of my clients’ photos.
That’s it! Keep in mind that the week after a wedding I will usually work 10-14 hours a day. I work my butt off so I can have client’s photos ready within a week. It works for me, however it may not work for you. Find a workflow that works for you and believe me, you will feel so much better knowing you are being as organized as possible. :) Happy Monday, friends!! :)