Same Day Wedding Photography: How to Wow Your Clients

“How did you DO this?!” I remember watching her exclaim with her jaw on the floor shortly before turning to her bridesmaid standing next to her and saying, “Can you believe this?!” She was holding her wedding pictures, in her hand, before the wedding reception had come to a close and I was her hero, even if for just that moment. 

The truth of it is, your photography can't be the only thing that sets you apart from your colleagues. Brides and Grooms typically don't know better vs best when it comes to photography and usually can't tell a huge difference between creative esthetic either. Where you can be different is with your customer service and client experience. If you're just giving your couples what they're paying for, that's boring, and they're not going to be overly thrilled. Give them more than what they expect; now that's something they'll tell all their family and friends about. Here's how I do exactly that.

You’ve probably heard the term Same Day Edit before. Typically, it refers to wedding photographers presenting a slide show of images from the wedding day during the reception. It is that; but it can be so much more.

The first time I printed a mini-album for my bride and groom during their wedding, I did it all alone. No assistant, just an extra photographer to take my place while I worked for an hour or so. Since then, I’ve realized I’m more valuable behind the camera than behind the computer, and now my assistant does most of the work. Thanks to this process, I’ve been able to get done during wedding reception what most photographers spend doing all the following week.

Check out the video for some visual how-to, but here’s the list version of what I do the night of the wedding:

  • Slideshow presented at the reception
  • Same Day Album given at the reception - branded with Miller's Lab Stickers
  • Photos uploaded and tagged on Facebook
  • Favorite photo posted and hashtagged on Instagram
  • Client SmugMug Gallery created
  • Animoto Slideshow created
  • Blog post 95% finished
  • Photos ready for submission to blogs/magazines
  • 2nd Photographer’s photos acquired

I know. It’s a ton of stuff, but it’s not impossible. In fact, it’s almost easy. During the reception what do you have your assistant doing anyway? I taught a full day course on the how-to that you can see here on creativeLIVE. Or you can check out the video above for the crash course.

Feel free to copycat. Same Day Edits are the best thing I’ve done for my business, ever. If SDE's just aren't for you, find another way to wow your clients. Maybe it's by giving little surprise gifts, or perhaps you like to continually under-promise and over deliver. Whatever it is, make it something out of the ordinary and beyond what they're expecting and you can't go wrong.

P.S. If you don’t have an assistant, get one. But that's for another story...

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SDE's are a great idea. I can't image any bride not being wowed by that on her big day. Most brides can't wait to see them and the anticipation of when you will see them seems so long! Fantastic!! Your photos are stunning!

I'm stressed just thinking about all that... :-)


lol - totally agree!

We do Same Day Edits for wedding films. Its a challenge, requires a crew of 3 in our case. But is pretty rewarding.

omgosh - for wedding films it's a whole different beast!!! Congrats to you for doing that!

One of the guys I second shoot for has been doing a variation on this for a while. He brings big flatscreens that he sets up at the reception, as soon as the ceremony is over and guests arrive at the reception there is already a slideshow running with shots from prep and ceremony, as well as some of the engagement photos. The slideshow is then live updated throughout the night with reception shots. Every single wedding there will be a small crowd gathered around the tv's throughout the night.

instead of guests watching the first dance, they watch pictures of themselves and comment on how great they look. Imagine how weddings sucked for thousands of years
and people were so bored. Glad we have these innovations to make sure our guests pay as little attention to the wedding as possible.

NICE! +1

I have thought about a small quick album printed at events. Good to see that idea in use.

Isn't it kind of strange to display photo at a wedding's evening?
watching picture (understand "pieces of the same day souvenir") instead of creating new ones while at the party?
I understand the photographers' advantage but for the bride groom?

That does seem pretty doable the way she describes in the video. I also greatly appreciate her energy and positivity, that alone would make me book her as my photographer.

I personally will not be doing this because time is pretty precious at weddings and I always feel like things are moving so fast I would rather be as focused on shooting as much as I can. Bravo for the energy and effort, she has something that looks like it is working!

Imagine a workflow where you could rate your favorites I camera and sync only those via wifi to a computer setup with LR presets and having that automatically print and show on a web site or screen. You could probably solo shoot if you got the formula right. Don't think any cameras support that (some have a rate button, but not sure you could then also sync those only via wifi)

Imagine a workflow where you actually concentrated on capturing moments and paying attention at the job and then edit them later.

That's what your assistant is for.

actually the assistant is there to help you setup your lights and help gather family for pictures and if not that, shooting candids. not editing.
I see from your images, youre not a wedding photographer?
and you want to tell others how to time manage a wedding?

I shoot about 5 weddings a year on referrals only, but I second shoot probably 20 weddings a year.

And an assistant that you hire to edit is literally only there to edit so yeah, that's what the assistant I was referring to is there for.

Jason and Robert:

I'm going to assume that both of you aren't aware of the impact Vanessa has had in this industry as well as the respect she has earned among her peers, clients, and fans.

My Nikon D750 lets me highlight images for transfer and then when I switch on the wifi it only sends those images. I would assume that most wifi enabled cameras have this function. (Again in the Nikon but I assume it's common) you can create your own edit profile in camera that gets applied to the jpegs so the images coming out of your wifi are already edited. Of course all this only works if your shooting "correctly" exposed in the first place and not if you're under exposing for highlights, etc.

"Same Day Edits are the best thing I’ve done for my business, ever."

Really? The best thing ever? Better than whatever experience or education you bring to the table? Better than your personal vision or taste? If immediacy is the best thing you can provide your clients why don't you just shoot everything on a smart phone and instagram it?

McDonalds can make a cheese burger pretty dang fast. Does that make it the best thing that's ever happened to cheese burgers? If you want to give your clients the impression that your work is fast food, and you want to attract fast-food clients, yes, please provide same day edits. Personally I'm going to put in a little extra effort.

I couldnt agree more. when you do things in a zippy manner it makes the feel of it low class. there is time needed to edit images and make them the highest level possible. you need a nice calibrated screen and a low stress environment to work on them. laptops are not a proper way to work on images.

when there was film, clients waited a while to see their images. now its instant and fast but doing it immediate doesnt give the feel of a professional job. there is a perceived professional level when the couples wait 2-3 weeks to see their first images. and with the energized adrenal rushed environment the wow factor is not like when they are at home and get to take their time and look at them and REALLY get wowed and enjoy them. in the wedding, no one cares or remembers.

I think this is an idea that makes the photog look like mcdonalds.

Same day edit doesn't appeal to me. If I'm the bride and groom, I want my guests to enjoy their time with me at the reception that I just paid a lot of money for. Allow them to make the memories there and have the photographer capture those memories. I don't want people gawking at a TV showing the photos all night. And yes, I'd rather take the extra time to edit the photos instead of churning them out. Love the McDonald's reference above too. Ha!

nice. instead of me photographing more of the wedding ,and wasting that precious time, and doing the editing properly in comfort at home, I have to edit under stress to impress people for 5 minutes instead of capturing memories.

nice priorities vanessa-clearly mcdonalds.

I can't believe i am reading this garbage. You obviously don't know Vanessa's work or clientele, and for that matter probably don't understand her success. To post a ridiculous comment equating her brand to McDonald's makes no sense, and while i don't know you I'd be willing to bet she knows a bit more about creating an incredible client experience than you do.

To that note, the same day slideshow is indeed about giving your clients an incredible experience. If you need to rely on your editing to show your clients and their friends beautiful photos of their day, them that is a photography problem and not a time management issue.

We do an SDS with a projector and we run out of business cards every wedding. Clients love it and it adds to the experience you are selling them. Don't take my word for it, talk to other photographers that do it. I wish I could show you the video of the crowd reacting to it at the last wedding we did to prove my point but this forum won't let me post it.

Technically you could argue that McDonalds is the best thing to happen to cheese burgers because from that business model came a line of MANY successful multi-million and billion dollar businesses and franchises and from there came new ideas and partnerships that led to more money being made. So for the people making millions of dollars on the minute cheese burger, they'd probably be comfortable saying it was the best thing ever.

Granted from the tone in your comment, I don't think any reasonable response is going to produce any sort of well-mannered response from you, but I think a lot of times, photographers especially since I'm in that field, get this pride about them that it has to be done this way or that way and any other way outside of their way is wrong, cheap, or plain bad. And a lot of times I feel like this sort of thinking stems from jealousy. I say this because I had similar thoughts years ago about certain areas of photography.

I thought they stemmed from a place of right standing, as if to say I know that if photography isn't done this way, it's making what we do cheap. I thought I had to spend a solid week editing pictures. I thought I had to have an elegant studio if I wanted to make money, I thought I had to have an expensive car and nice clothes if I was going to book high dollar weddings. I was wrong on almost everything. Just remember that folks believed that transitioning to digital photography had the same thoughts you do about same day edits. Those folks were obviously wrong and I would encourage you to at least keep an open mind. SDE aren't for me, I don't think I'll do them, but I definitely see a lot of benefits in them.

OMG people, really? Just because it doesn't work for you doesn't mean it's wrong and for crying out loud, to compare Vanessa's work to a McDonalds product is downright insulting! One thought . . . If you are good enough at your craft, you don't need all that editing time in your studio! Nuff said!!!

I miss those days when good photography was what set us apart not gimmicks like these where we rush to show badly edited not so great photos as quickly as possible. This is kind of like giving microwaved pizza instead of a nicely made food and then getting featured about how fast you are on a food blog.

You're assuming that quality is sacrificed for immediacy. Your analogy is wrong, it's like a master chef employing sous chefs to handle the work that doesn't require his attention. By utilizing top-tier assistants you're able to produce top-tier work in a shorter amount of time.

Vanessa is obviously in a position to make this work. She is passing the work onto an assistant-again, she would be in a position to have two-three people working the short deadline. In commercial work, we always have the saying "You can have it quick, you can have it cheap, you can have quality....pick two! Even in her model, she's living by that dictum...she's employing other people to do that work-higher cost. My area is suppressed (depressed) economically (and I think physiologically...people want everything, but they won't pay a high tab) a result you have sole photographers out there working their tails off trying to match the trend and can't do it. I dropped weddings-just made sense to concentrate on other aspects...still the same "problem" but at least I'm not chasing that which doesn't exist here.

In fairness, I shoot convention coverage and we have a team...photogs shoot the event and dump the files to editors and techs...they take it from their end and like what Vanessa is doing, the coverage is going live even as the event is taking place over the course of days. In this case, I'm not liable to cover the cost.

You will always have to "pick two!"

The four-five star restaurant versus McDonalds does work as an food is reference it's not the same as an entree at a good restaurant...which required more people to deliver it in a reasonable amount of time...and at a higher cost---quality, fast...not cheap., cheap...not quality.

no its more like hells kitchen where theres chaos and stress and you need to put out a high quality product in time constraints and with excessive stress, instead of shooting more of the bg with friends and family. priorities to impress 5 peoples is not smart.

Again, you're making assumptions. If you hire a good editor and that's all they're doing and all you're doing is shooting, then there is no quality dropoff.

the quality to the eye of those watching wont be an issue. most people cant see quality. but there is perceived quality. immediacy kills the perceived quality. look how many people use smartphones and shoot nonstop garbage pictures and for many many years. they have no sense of "quality" or have the skill. and thats weird. with so many years of shooting, youd think people would get better with instant feedback to the work. when you give it instantly, that also lowers people perceived quality. its known, a pro shoots the wedding, and it takes some time to get it to the coouple. its not immediate. after the 2-3 weeks they come pick them up and it adds to the perceived value.

the bigger problem I see is that the work is not perceived as quality. when you do it on the fly. it feels like mcdonalds.

And I would argue that this entirely your opinion and not fact. The sheer number of weddings my friend has booked based on his same-day slideshow station (literally mentioned specifically by brides) would stand counter to your opinion. My opinion is that these days people value timeliness and immediacy and do not assume that time=quality, because quality no longer takes the amount of time it used to. The "aw" factor that comes with a good same day edit combines the "wow this looks amazing" with "how did they do this so fast??".

Our same-day slideshow is usually around 100 images total across the prep, service, and reception. It's not a distraction, it's usually off to the side and something for people to look at for a few minutes while they chat or share a drink. The photos have more impact because they are being viewed in the moment instead of after the fact. People are more emotionally engaged at the actual wedding than they are browsing Facebook later. From a business standpoint you are able to provide maximum value to your client (they get a facebook gallery of 100 images immediately following the ceremony that tides them over while the full edit is being completed and increases their sense of value because people are all familiar with the horror stories of waiting months for wedding images), and you present value to potential clients because they immediately see what you could offer them if you shot their wedding, and they see it in an impactful way that sticks out far more than a Facebook post two months after the wedding.

I wonder if elite photographers offer this crap. like Joe Buissink. he doesnt need gimmicks to sell himself. its beneath him to do it. any photog can do it. but I have more class than to offer this crap. whats next for photogs? keychain holder with a picture of the BG inside ? dont stop at slideshows...

Hell no. Less is more. I used to print in the darkroom for a very high end NYC photographer and he would invite clients into the studio to look at my darkroom prints. It was very personal and they loved the experience. They rightly got the impression that each image was made with value and they valued each image.

Well sure, if we had all started shooting in the mid-90's and managed to become popular among celebrities, then we wouldn't have to change and adapt and could just continue offering mediocre photos, but we can't all be Joe Buissink and have that luxury. If you continue deride anything that is different as "a gimmick" and judge it based on emotion instead of logic and business savvy, you're going to look around one day and wonder where all your clients went.

We provide photography and super 8 coverage. Our 'extras' are basically more hours, 2nd shooters, and rehearsal dinner coverage. In addition to selling prints, we sell albums. The quality of our work and our professionalism are our signature standards. Our clients aren't going anywhere. We aren't the biggest studio in NYC, but we are healthy. Adding same day edits would actually drive AWAY our current clients. They would see our little slide show like a vendor booth at a trade show, which it basically is.

You have to tailor your work to the clients you're trying to reach, of course. I know multiple high-end photographers here in Houston who only offer the same-day live update slideshow with their most expensive packages, and it's one of their most popular features. It's all about your business needs.

This is the reason I didn't continue shoot weddings. I know it's a fast paced job, but the demands are getting bigger.

It's just one photographer in the world started a trend of "pressuring" themeselves to amaze a client and now everyone is expected to do this.

Though some can nail it and produce quality output, But I have seen a lot of other wedding photographers whou couldn't keep up with their promises and still charges a premium. It's like "sorry, this is what we do".

Nah dude. Photographers do this to themselves. If a bride loves your work and loves you, she will hire you over somebody who's going to set up screens at the event. I would say it's 1. Personality, 2. Quality of work, 3. services offered. There might be some back and forth about what comes with what package but at the end of the day, people don't hire photographers the way they buy gadgets. Throwing in unnecessary services and gimmicks is just a risk you don't need to take if you're targeting the right clients (people who like you or are like you), and providing a solid level of quality. Case and point, I would NEVER want same day photos to be shown at my wedding. I find it completely classless and just gross, therefore my ideal client will should feel the same way. No-one has ever asked me to do this, but if they did I would suggest that another studio would probably be right for them. Wedding photography is just weird as a business haha, a lot of is is just being true to your own tastes and personality, and then finding similar people as clients.

Maybe you're right - but the thing is you're (might be) from the US, and the market is fortunate enough to have room for different approach in wedding photograhy. But from where I came from, most photographers are expected to offer the same. From the crap ones to the best of wedding photographer - they just offer the same package.

I didn't want to do it. That type of work is not for me. That's why since then, I only offer my engagement/couple photos only.

ITT: People who let their own prejudices and preconceptions impact their business decisions.

Ok I just want to say that the McDonald's comment was ridiculous on so many levels! Sounds like two people who under achieve in business and don't get that running a successful photography business not only means giving clients great photography but also an amazing experience! What she is showing is one of the things she does to give what I like to call a wow factor to your clients! I also do same day edits and can tell you that it has made my company a lot of $$$ and literally every time we do this I hand out at least 5 cards! great video Vanessa good for you for showing and helping people how to grow their business and generate revenue!!

I don't even shoot weddings, but I have learned tons from Vanessa. Know what I do when something doesn't apply to my business? I move on. She's devoted hundreds, if not thousands of hours sharing valuable information with others, many of whom may be in her service area. So, she shares something new she's doing, great! She's not forcing you to do it. She's not looking for a 'thank you', and she's surely not looking to be compared to a BigMac. (Although that could be a great new nickname)

If you think what she's doing is cheapening her business, why wouldn't you encourage her to keep doing it? Why not capitalize on her 'mistake' of offering her clients something they aren't getting elsewhere? Don't even think about saying something like, "Well... it cheapens the industry", because if you gave a shit about 'the industry' you wouldn't be trying to tear down someone who has given so much to so many.

I'm always reluctant to respond to negative comments on threads but when you start to pick on Vanessa for her business acumen I just have to step in. First of all let's address the idea of her posting a same day slide show that has not been "properly" edited. When you are a seasoned photographer as Vanessa is, you learn to get it right in camera and my guess is that the images she is showing or printing at the reception are better than some photographers would look after editing. The idea that the same day slide show is taking away from the reception time is ridiculous as I have seen the looks of enjoyment from all those watching the slideshow myself as I have been doing that most every wedding I've shot in the last few years. Many weddings show slideshows that the couples create themselves of their years growing up and through their dating. Does that detract from the reception? I always ask if the bride and groom want the same day slideshow as it's not mandatory and 95% of them love the idea. Weddings today are not the weddings of twenty or even ten years ago. Wedding albums have changed for the better and so can our service options. I for one am glad that we have Vanessa sharing her successful business techniques so that others may learn from her and take their customer experience to the next level. Keep up the great work Vanessa!!

Thanks for great ideas! By the way... when you're photografer and still looking for a good way how to give your clients their photos i found some special stuff - y'all must check it out