Thinking back to when I started my wedding photography business in 2006, I had no idea what I was getting myself in to. I thought there would be some communication before the day, show up for a long day of photographing, then kick back on the couch for a bit while I edit, and voila! All done! I couldn’t have been more wrong on the depth of what my workflow would entail. Today, I want to share my workflow (it has gone through many evolutions over the years) with you and shed a little light on what you may be getting in to as you start your journey in wedding photography.

Pre Wedding

  • Schedule a consultation with potential clients, follow up, sign contract, accept retainer, send a thank you note.
  • 8-10 weeks out, secure a second shooter (if contracted) for the date.
  • 4 weeks out, contact client to set up a final meeting. Go over timelines, get photo request lists, confirm addresses & phone numbers of key players then summarize everything we talked about in final meeting and send to client and print copies for myself & second shooter.
  • 2 Weeks out, if I’m unfamiliar with the venue, I do a walk through at the same time of day as photographs will be happening. I also use this time to touch base with the on site coordinator and do a little networking with them.
  • 3 Days out, check on equipment, ensure all is in working order. If not, overnight a rental or pick up the necessary item at the store.
  • Night before, charge all batteries, format cards, ensure timeline/shot list are in the bag. Plan travel time to venue.

On Wedding Day

  • I usually arrive 30 minutes early to get situated, distribute light stands to where they need to be (reception), and say hello to any onsite key players like a catering manager or planner.
  • Shoot the wedding based on the timeline discussed with the client (hope it all goes according to plan, which it won’t, but I keep a smile regardless).
  • Always check with the client before leaving that they don’t want any other photos and to say goodbye.
  • Tear down equipment, pack up, and get all cards out of cameras and keep used cards on my person on the way home. I may be a bit paranoid, but (heaven forbid) if we’re in a car accident, (or our equipment was stolen) at least the cards would be on my person and go with me wherever I go.

Post Wedding Day

  • The next day, I import files onto my Drobo, create Lightroom Catalog for the event. My fellow Photofocus author Vanelli & I differ on our use of catalogs. You can check out his article here where he prefers working in one main catalog where I prefer creating a new one for each event I do. Whatever works for you, works for you! After that I keyword the event (pertinent info like venue, season, colors, as well as categories like Pre Wedding, Ceremony, Family Formals, First Look, Couple Formals, Reception Events, Guests and Dancing).
  • The next day I cull the images. This usually takes 2-3 rounds of culling. Check out my article on culling tips if you need help!
  • Next, I usually let a day or two pass between looking at the images again. I know for me, I can get over saturated looking at the same thing for too long. This is usually when I work on other blogging, shooting engagement sessions, taxes, marketing, networking, or doing other client meetings. When I come back to them I start my editing. Day 1 of editing, I do all pre wedding, Detail, and Ceremony photos. Day 2 I do all the formal photos. Day 3 I do all of the reception photos. I export and upload to my proofing website at the end of each day. I try to keep these editing chunks manageable so that again, I don’t get over saturated & burned out and so that I can have work/life balance.
  • Once everything is up online, I schedule a reveal session in the near future with my clients to come over to the studio and see their photos. It’s a small party for the client and a lot of fun. It’s great to have immediate feedback on the images as the clients view them. This is also where I work on selling any wall art or getting the details of the album squared away.
  • I make my favorite selections of the wedding and export them to a Lightroom Catalog I have that are just favorites. This catalog is what I refer to anytime I need images for blogging, for sharing with other vendors, or any promotional materials.
  • Write blog entry, send photos to vendors who worked on the wedding with me, submit the event for publication.
  • I design the album, post it online for my clients to make comments or approve. Eventually, submitting the album for print.
  • Write a client thank you, copy their photos to their USB drive, package the album, and arrange for personal delivery.
  • Send an email asking for online reviews on the major wedding sites.

That’s it! It’s not rocket science, but it is time consuming. Especially when I have a double (or triple) header weekend and week after week booked. There have been times where I’ve had 10+ weddings going at one time (usually September/October time) and I have to rotate my time through all of them to keep them all “on schedule” and delivered by my contract delivery date of 4 weeks after the event.

My hope is that by sharing my wedding work flow with new or soon to be wedding photographers out there, you’ll have a better understanding of the scope of effort that goes into each wedding. Use this information to translate into charging a fair wage for your time & talent as you start (or grow) your wedding photo business!