More Vital Lessons From Wedding Photography: When the Hard Work Begins

More Vital Lessons From Wedding Photography: When the Hard Work Begins

In part one, I looked at the preparation up to and including the wedding day itself. But much of the work happens after the event in front of a computer.

Running A Photography Business Isn't Straightforward

A professional photographer must employ a range of skills that, in most businesses, would be undertaken by a team of people. Apart from being a photographer and all that it entails, I am also my own accountant, marketing director, public relations coordinator, bookings planner, technical advisor, website designer and developer, and coffee brewer. My skills include video, desktop publishing, writing, and business mentoring. If I am on a business trip, I book the transport. Plus, I make the executive decisions about what jobs I want to take on.

Keeping on top of my accounts, something that I find an unwelcome chore, is essential. There are some good photography management apps out there. Apps like Studio Ninja and Light Blue can save busy photographers huge amounts of time with that and tracking customers and their photoshoots.

However, I don't use them. When I first started in this profession, I manually created invoices using Excel. I nearly made an Access database to do the job, but I found Express Accounts from NCH was affordable and served my purposes then, and it does now.

There are numerous business courses that I went on when I first started. They all promoted constant advertising and boosting one’s online presence. It's what I did to start with, but I now have two counterarguments to this approach. Firstly, social media is great for promoting start-ups if it is done well. However, it can be a giveaway that you are new and inexperienced. Secondly, social media is a vampire, sucking not blood but the valuable time that you could be spending earning money plus personal professional development and training.

That is something you need to work out for yourself. I find word of mouth, helping others by giving free advice, and being friendly works best for me. Much of your work is going to be local, so having a good reputation locally is essential. Your clients will, of course, Google you. So, if you spend hours writing snarky comments on articles, they will see that and reject work from you.

Using Imagen AI for Culling and Developing Raw Images

Of course, processing wedding photos is by far the most time-consuming part of the job. You will shoot many more photos than you need. Shooting one frame will inevitably capture someone’s eyes closed, especially in group shots. Sifting through maybe 3,000 images and reducing them down to 150 takes a long time.

Luckily, there is software now that will help you with that, called Imagen AI. It is a great app that analyzes your photos and detects when there is something wrong with them, such as being out of focus or someone having their eyes shut. It suggests them for culling, although you have the final say. It will also learn your style and apply that to the entire set. If you haven’t found your style yet, you can adopt that of a well-known photographer and apply it to your photos.

It saves days of work. I still go through all the remaining photos and tweak them individually. But Imagen AI has sped up my workflow enormously, which affects my bottom line. Saving that time was vital for last weekend's wedding because I had to get the shoot out of the way as I had other work to do.

Getting to Grips With the Tourbox

Recently, I acquired a Tourbox Elite. It's another tool that made a huge difference to my workflow. I reviewed it here. To speed up the processing and editing of images, it's something I wish I had invested in years ago. It speeds up the processing of images more than I thought possible and gives me finer control than I can achieve with my mouse.

How Much Editing Should You Do?

I have no qualms about removing pimples and shaving cuts from faces and will routinely do so when I process the shots. The photographer's job is to make the wedding look beautiful, and nobody will remember that zit.

Equally, I have seen bridal photos with some glaring errors that could have been easily fixed with a quick bit of cloning. We all miss stuff when we take photos, but there's no excuse for providing the client with images with a single hair running across the bride's face, a lamppost growing from the groom's head, or a road cone lying on its side in the background. I've seen other wedding photo albums that had all these rudimentary mistakes that could be so easily fixed in Photoshop.

When you start, shoot a slightly wider frame than you need, as it gives you more scope for creative cropping and sampling areas to clone. I crop all photos to the dimensions of the prints I am providing.

How Should I Present the Photos?

About 20 years ago, things changed. Photographers started offering printed photo books. They take a long time to create, and I think they are never that special unless you are paying huge sums for them. My approach instead is to encourage the couple to create a traditional scrapbook-style wedding album. Then, the newlyweds can spend time together, creating a book of memories not just from my photos but from mementos of the day too.

How to Keep the Photos and for How Long

I share the images via the cloud. I tell my clients that I only store their photos for a year, unless they have agreed that I use some of them for my publicity.

One client emailed me two years later in a panic because they had lost access to the cloud service where they had stored the images. Luckily, I found the pictures on a redundant external hard drive and was able to resupply them.

If they have asked for prints, they receive those enveloped in acid-free paper and presented in a carved wooden box, along with all the images on a pen drive.

Why Am I Giving Up Weddings?

Why am I stopping wedding photography? As I said in the previous article, I have learned to be laid back and not become stressed about things over which I have no absolute control. For example, I have an event shoot this coming weekend, but I picked up a horrendous cold at the wedding last weekend, so I have passed the work on to someone else. There is no use worrying about it. Furthermore, I know my clients are happy with their images.

The truth is, I have enough other work on my plate, and weddings eat into the time spent doing that. The opportunity cost of shooting weddings is too high. So, I now pass most wedding requests onto two fabulous, young wedding photographers who live nearby.

Moreover, the more I do, the more I find many weddings are very similar and blur into one another. Although there are opportunities for being creative, that creativity must be restricted so that the clients appreciate the photos. If I push the creative boundaries too far, the reaction from my clients will not be great.

I might still accept the occasional small one, but no more big fairy tale weddings for me from now on.

Do You Shoot Weddings?

What lessons have you learned from wedding shoots? Are weddings too daunting for you to shoot? It would be great to read your comments. If you missed my first article in this series, you can find it here.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Earning a living as a photographer, website developer, and writer and Based in the North East of England, much of Ivor's work is training others; helping people become better photographers. He has a special interest in supporting people with their mental well-being through photography. In 2023 he became a brand ambassador for the OM System

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