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.

Park Savoy Wedding

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

Ashford Estate Wedding

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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46 Comments

Tru-Vue Inc's picture

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... :-)

Daniel Haußmann's picture

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

Vanessa Joy's picture

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

Andrew Richardson's picture

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.

william mitchell's picture

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

romain VERNEDE's picture

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?

michael andrew's picture

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!

Nathan Dana's picture

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.

Andrew Richardson's picture

That's what your assistant is for.

robert s's picture

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?

Andrew Richardson's picture

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.

Matt Koza's picture

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.

Rob Mynard's picture

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.

robert s's picture

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.

Joe Schmitt's picture

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!

robert s's picture

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.

Michael Anthony's picture

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.

Eric Stoner's picture

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.

Andrew Richardson's picture

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.

Glenn Riegel's picture

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)...as 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 example...fast food is fast...in 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. McDonalds...fast, cheap...not quality.

robert s's picture

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.

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