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It’s probably no secret that a lot of work goes on behind the scenes to make a wedding happen.  If you’ve had any part in planning your event (even with a wedding planner to help you), you know what I mean.

For photographers, the work schedule is a little different.  While we’re there to help you before your wedding, we can only start working on your wedding images after the ceremony has taken place!  

While you’re off on your honeymoon, your photographer will be working to process and develop your images.  Here’s a quick overview of what happens to your images after the wedding.

1.  Organize Your Wedding Images

While I can’t speak for every photographer, the first thing most of us do is try to organize your wedding images in a logical way.  

Most wedding photographers take hundreds of photos over the course of an event, and our cameras order them sequentially.  What that means on the backend is that if I take a few images “out of order”, I’ll have to sort through and find those images later.

Here’s a good example of how that might happen:

During a 2018 Wedding, I showed up just after 1:00 PM and started photographing all the small items around the wedding.  We call them the “little details” — things like party favours and floral decorations — that make for unique wedding photos.

I wanted to get a picture of the building where the event was being held, but the sun was too high for that in the sky in the early afternoon.  

Instead, I waited until everyone was busy eating during the dinner and snuck out to get a few shots of the building as the sun was setting.  Now I’ve got an image of the details and the setting, which fits well with the “little things” idea, but it’s not in sequence.

In a situation like this, I’ll take those photos, regardless of the order in which I shot them, and I’ll organize them into a group so that I can see how they fit together.  I do the same thing for pre-wedding images, ceremony photos, family photos, and every other major section of the wedding.

2.  Select & Refine

Taking time to select the best wedding photos is tough but necessary.  While your photographer will catch a ton of interesting things on your big day, many of those wedding images will be duplicate content.  

I often photograph family groups in sets of five or ten, depending on the size of the group, just to make sure that nobody blinked and that we’ve got a great image.  But unless something remarkable happens, you’ll only want one of those images.

Part of my job as a photographer is to select the most interesting and unique wedding photos in this process and to deliver them to you.  So, duplicates, fuzzy or out of focus images, bad facial expressions, or strange and random mishaps often get cut at this stage.

I sort everything into folders using Adobe Bridge and then rank everything from inside the software.  Usually, I run through two or three selection rounds to pick out the best images.  

After a round of cuts, I usually step away for a few hours, then circle back and look at everything again with fresh eyes. If I find myself really missing a photo, I’ll take a second look.  As a bonus, if you had a shot list for your wedding, I’ll also double check at this stage to make sure that we’ve got everything you hoped for.

Typically, I don’t move on from the phase until I’m (mostly) satisfied that your wedding images tell the story they’re intended to tell.

3.  Edit & Retouch

This is my favourite part of the process!

Once your photographer has selected out the image they’re going to edit, they’ll open up a photo editor, like Adobe Photoshop, and get to work with the adjustments.  

Original, camera RAW images have a ton of data to work with, and photographers often spend a fair amount of time fiddling with the sliders and dials to make sure that every image shines.

Personally, I spend the majority of this time developing colour palettes and editorial themes that work well with your wedding images.  I test out images in black and white or add a little extra colour to an image just to see how it looks.  It’s a process of experimentation.

Once I’ve got a style that I’m happy with and that fits the look and feel of the wedding, I’ll process out the images in sequence with the same editorial ideas in mind.

4.  Save & Export

This is the last big thing that your photographer is likely to do after your best wedding photos are selected and edited.

While most photographers will work off of the original RAW images, we don’t typically release them.  We’ll provide high-resolution JPEGs of your wedding images as an alternative, and we do this for a couple of reasons:

1. Most print shops can’t read a RAW file.  

This image format is designed as an input for most photo editing software.  If you went to your favourite print shop with a RAW file on a USB drive, the printers there typically won’t have a way to read it!

2.RAW files are huge!

You wouldn’t think space matters so much in the digital age, but it does.  Most RAW files are between 80 and 100MB. For reference, most JPEG files are under 10MB.  That means that any RAW image would be impractical for most emails and a lot of modern-day storage.

On a professional note, the images that I usually supply around between 3000px and 4000px on the long side, which is enough to print anything up to a 20×24, but take requests for larger images if needed.

Two Big Questions

As I mentioned earlier, I can’t speak for all photographers.  Every process will vary slightly, as will the tools that your photographer uses. Often times, when I discuss this process with potential clients, I get two main questions about wedding images and processing:

How Many Images Do Wedding Photographers Edit?

While it varies with the number of images a photographer usually takes over the course of the wedding, a wedding photographer may select, cut, and edit hundreds of photos before arriving at a complete set of wedding photos.

This process can take anywhere from several hours to several days, depending on your photographer’s organizational skill, workflow, and processing style.

How Many Wedding Photos Should I Expect?

This will depend on your photographer, their shooting style, and the length of your event.

At Lumina, we usually end up with somewhere between 100-400 images for most half-day to full-day events.  This is usually a comfortable prediction, as we like to gather enough images to tell a real story from your event.

Wrapping Up

We mentioned this earlier, but it’s worth saying again: your mileage with any photographer will vary slightly, which is why the question of wedding images and post-wedding photography work can be a little tricky to answer.

If we missed a question, or if you’d like to know more about how Lumina Photographic works with you to capture your best wedding photos, definitely let us know!