Apparently, patience is a virtue. But I sometimes think it’s probably a little overrated.
Certainly, I love the fact that Amazon Prime can now sometimes deliver things to me on the same day as I order them. That’s some sort of witchcraft. And occasionally, I have to have a quiet word with myself to avoid looking at spoilers for films that are coming out soon that I can’t wait to see. They’re called spoilers for a reason!
However, some things are worth waiting for.
Some things shouldn’t be rushed.
Some things need to be crafted.
One of the common questions that I’m asked by couples is, “How long after our wedding will we receive the wedding photos?” I can completely understand why you would want to know. I can recall arriving home from our honeymoon, happy but tired from travelling. That was the last element of our wedding, completed. A happy full-stop at the end of a brilliant year of planning, partying and generally doing lovely things to celebrate ‘us’. What we needed to do next was look back and remember it and, of course, the wedding photos would help us to do that. What was taking so long?
To answer that question with a bit of context, let me take you through the process I follow as a wedding photographer after a wedding. As soon as I get back from a wedding, before I’ve even clicked the kettle on, I back up the memory cards from the day. My cameras all have two memory cards in, each one recording every image as it’s taken – an automatic backup. If I have a second photographer with me on the day, I’ll give them one set of the cards to take home with them as a failsafe. If not, then I stop on my way back from the wedding at my storage unit and leave one set there. It’s important to have off-site backup, just in case.
Once the cards have finished backing up, I’ll set them to upload to a secure online storage site and then I’ll have that cup of tea and put my feet up. I can never go straight to bed – I need to wind down!
The next day I will check that the files have uploaded properly and then I will have a quick look through them with a program called Photo Mechanic. This lets me quickly view the RAW files (the type of file a camera produces is called RAW, in case you thought I was shouting the word ‘raw’ in capital letters for some bizarre reason!). At this point, I will put one set of cards back into circulation, ready to be used again. The other set will remain off-site. I now have a set of the images on my computer, in the cloud and off-site.
The next major job is to select which files should be kept for editing. This can take a couple of hours at least, as each image has to be checked individually.
Once that has been completed, the images are loaded into Lightroom and the detailed editing can be completed. Each image is edited individually: cropping and straightening, adjusting colour balance and exposure. Some photos will need slightly more editing in Photoshop – perhaps to remove a distracting element or to apply final touches to a dramatic portrait. This step is the most time consuming and can take many hours.
Once complete, the images are processed into JPEGS and then uploaded to the client’s personal gallery, ready to be viewed.
The whole process can take several weeks if the photographer is shooting a lot of weddings and other sessions on top of their editing. I allow a maximum of 8 weeks in my contract, just to account for the busiest time of year when I may have multiple weddings and engagement shoots each week.
However, for 2021 and beyond I am pledging to reduce the average turnaround time to two weeks from the date of the wedding. For many couples, that will coincide with a return from honeymoon, which I hope will be a lovely thing to come home to.