@HappySky7: I’ll run you through my workflow. On any given week during busy season I am shooting at least 3 days – usually one wedding, sometimes two, and an engagement or bridal session or two each week. Let’s say that I take two days off a week (VERY rare from March-November), but let’s pretend for the sake of this that I do. That leaves me 2 days per week, maybe 3 if I take only one day for myself per week, to really dig deep into editing. So in a two month span let’s say that I have 8-10 editing work days. So:
1. I copy ~60-90 gigs of photos from my cards immediately after the wedding which takes a few hours. Then I copy them to at least 2 or 3 other drives which takes many more hours.
2. I wait 2-3 days to start working on any images from the wedding I just shot. This is a personal thing for me, but I find it helps me a lot to have a little bit of distance from the day before I re-visit it, so after everything has been backed up the night I get home (late Saturday or Sunday), I usually wait until Wednesday to start any work on them.
3. I import all of those RAW files into Lightroom and start the job of going through each shot and marking it as a keeper or trash. I usually have 2,000-3,000 images to get through and it’s even more if I have a second shooter. This task alone (importing and culling) is a full work day or more.
4. Once all of the keepers have been put into a new folder, I do preliminary Lightroom editing on each one. I straighten, crop, adjust exposure and color balance, sharpen, and adjust highlights/shadows for every.single.image. There is no magic one-touch button to auto correct every image the way I want them. I select images I’m pulling for the blog post/preview and do full edits on those. This takes hours and hours and hours.
5. At this point, after the blog is done, I assess where I am with my editing on weddings that happened BEFORE yours. So it’s really important to remember that when a photographer brings home memory cards from your wedding they are not jumping right into them and have nothing else to do. They are somewhere in this process with a NUMBER of weddings, so it’s not like you’re getting all 8-10 hours of an edit day on just your images. I shot 5 weddings in May and 5 in June this year, so it wasn’t until the end of June that I was wrapping up edit work on May weddings to begin digging into June weddings. Now if your wedding was in December and I was caught up on editing I would have the images done much faster because I wouldn’t have a backlog.
6. Once my preliminary edits are done in Lightroom I export the files from Lightroom in TIFF format, which means they are HUGE files. Exporting 600-800 TIFFS can take ~5-6 hours alone. During that time I work on someone elses images.
7. After they’ve finished exporting I run them through a PS action I created. This can take a few hours with TIFF files. Steps 6 and 7 take a full day usually.
8. I then open each individual image in PS and do final edits. Many photographers only do this when you order prints but my OCD ass forces me to do something to every image I deliver. This usually includes brightening eyes, lightening bags under the eyes, taking out a few distracting elements in the background, dodging faces to make them brighter or burning backgrounds to make the subject pop out of the image . . . this process takes 4-5 edit days. Not 4-5 days, 4-5 EDIT days. So again, if I have 2-3 of those a week, this can take me two weeks to complete and I may not even get started on it until 4 weeks after the wedding because I’m doing steps 1-7 and working on other weddings/shoots.
9. After I’ve edited all the TIFFS, I run actions to convert them to JPGs, then resize them for the proofing gallery, put them in the order I want them in and sort them by categories, and upload them to said gallery. This takes a bunch of time too.
It’s exhausting. I know it is frustrating for folks to wait on their images but honestly it just takes a long time to work through them, especially for busy photographers. Some bees get their photos super fast and that may be because their photographer doesn’t go further than step 4, or outsources your images to an edit company (which is expensive) and gets them turned around really fast.
The above doesn’t even take into account that your photographer, being a human being, might take a vacation or be sick for a week or have a family crisis to deal with or feel burned out sitting in front of the computer 12 hours a day. These are all things that go on for photographers and affect the turnaround time for photos. I promise we aren’t just sitting around twiddling our thumbs for two months before we decide to work on your photos. 🙂