What Happens to Photos After the Wedding? | Backing Up, Culling, Sneak Peeks

May 19, 2011

Recently, I have been telling a lot of people about my editing process and so I thought I would write it out for others to read here.  It’s not uncommon for clients to wonder what actually happens to their photos after the wedding day, and I’ve had other photographer friends ask about my workflow.  So here’s my response to those two questions in a three-part series of posts… sort of melded into one (and with some photos throughout for those of you who, like me, get bored reading a long post without any images).

I always photograph weddings with a second shooter (it’s almost always Kelly).  Together, we end up shooting between 2000-3000 photos (a lot!) on the day of the wedding.  Here’s what all happens to those images:

Step One – Back the Images Up (3-5 hours)
It takes approximately 3-5 hours to upload all the images and back them up to a few different on-site hard drives and off-site storage locations.  This is one of *the* most important things to us… something we are always tweaking in order to safeguard the photos as much as humanly possible. As photographers who have been shooting weddings for 5+ years, we understand how crucial basic elements such as back-up storage as well as back-up equipment are. Unfortunately, we learned the hard way with one of the first weddings we ever shot (for a friend, five years ago) when we *almost* (thank the Lord, only almost) lost images due to a hard drive failure.  That being said, we make it a point to have each original image file in at least three locations (one off-site) before we ever delete the images off the memory card.  And we’re nervous until they’re all fully copied.  Are we freaks about backing-up?  Yes, slightly totally.  

Step Two – Cull (3-6 hours)
Once they’re all on hard drives, we look at every single photo and we then, one by one, cull that number down to between 450-700 (deleting duplicate, blurry, closed eyes, or otherwise unflattering images).  Why do we take so many to begin with?  A few (of many) reasons: people blink, lighting varies, there are multiple people in some shots (and it’s tricky for everyone to always look great in each photo!), we like having a selection, and lastly – to make sure that we have fully captured the important details.  Culling usually takes between 3-6 hours.  Kelly is our culler. =)

Step Three – Sneak Peek Photo (1-2 hours)
We choose an image to post to our Facebook page as a favorite “sneak peek” photo for the couple and family/friends to see.  (If you don’t already, you can follow us on Facebook if you’d like to see those updates.)  We completely understand that it’s hard to wait to see the images, but it makes your life easier not having to look through thousands of photos – and our couples tell us that it really is worth the wait!

You can read Part 2 here – where I explain our post-processing details and
Part 3 here – some thoughts on balancing art and business.


[…] 2011 If you missed the first two posts in What Happens to Photos After the Wedding?, you can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here. Thoughts on Balancing Art and Professionalism in Business A while back, I read […]

[…] the first post in the “What Happens to Photos After the Wedding?” series, you can read Part 1 here. So now that you know what kind of freaks we are about backing up, let’s get on to the […]