The more you shoot, the more you edit. The more you edit, the less money you make.
Many of the photographers I know have a love/hate relationship with editing their work. The truth is, for many photographers, editing and processing images is one of the most burdensome aspects of their photography. It's not uncommon for photographers to take 2-3 months, or more, to finish processing an average wedding. In fact, a while back (when this blog first started), I posted some stats about how photographers spend their time.
I posted the following chart, and the results are pretty interesting to me:
On average, photographers are spending more than 15 hours a week on editing images. That's 50% more time than they even spend shooting. Who wants to spend an hour and a half editing for every hour you shoot?!
Now, I realize that for some photographers, what happens in the digital darkroom is as important to their finished product as what happens in the camera. This isn't an argument about that, although some of my feelings below will still apply. This is about how do you create a simple workflow that works for you.
1. Shoot Less. Seriously. If you're shooting 1,500, 2,000 or more images at a wedding, you're shooting too much. I know I just made enemies with half the photography community, but hear me out. If you're shooting too much, you're spending too much time editing through images. And your time is valuable. Your time COSTS you. Time you spend in your workflow is time you can't spend doing things that help you build your business - like meeting with new clients, or shooting other events.
I know that digital SLR cameras made it easy to machine-gun it at weddings. I also know that often, we are afraid that if we're not constantly shooting, we might not "get the shot." If you're afraid you might miss something - slow down. The camera can only see what you see. What ever happened to composition, lighting, and shooting the RIGHT shots. More does not equal better.
Spend your time shooting the right things, and move on. You don't need 20 exposures of every group formal. You don't need 50 shots of every detail. Shoot them right, and move on.
2. Know your craft. Get it right in the camera. Seriously. You're a photographer. Basic exposure, white balance and composition are a given. You shouldn't need LightRoom or Aperture or Photoshop to fix your images. I'm fine if you want to spruce them up - whatever fits your style - but you have to at least have the basics down. If not, you really have no business calling yourself a professional right?
3. Develop a workflow system. Write it down so you can do it the same every time. Often, the act of writing down what we're doing helps us realize inefficiencies in what we're doing. Additionally, by doing it the same every time, you'll start to increase your productivity as your workflow becomes second nature. Keep it simple and repeatable.
4. Consider outsourcing. Remember, your time is valuable. Often, a wedding can be edited by someone else for much less than it really costs you to do it yourself. There are several great companies that offer editing and post-processing services. A few that are either run by people I know and trust, or used by people I know and trust, include:
There are certainly others, but I list these here because I either know the people behind them, or know people who use - and LOVE them.
The bottom line is, your post-processing can kill you if you don't take the time to develop a simple, efficient workflow that works for you.
Let me add this: this post is sure to generate some strong feelings. That's great! I'd love to hear them. Only rules are - you have to use you real name and web address in your comments. Also, keep in mind that this post is about how to improve your workflow - NOT your photography. It's most definitely true that the more you shoot - the better photographer you become. I suggest that there are better ways to practice your photography than by shooting 3-5K shots at a wedding. That's all :)