The amount of work that photographers do after the wedding can be overwhelming. I often talk to photographers like this one who feel like they just can't keep up with it. One option is to cut back on the number of weddings you're shooting to a level where you can offer maximum customer service to your clients. But oftentimes the pain can be eased by some organization and a few practices to help streamline post-processing.

I use a workflow checklist for each wedding that helps my assistants and I to move clients quickly through the process. I thought I'd share that here along with a little explanation for each step.

Before I do, let me say that I strongly believe in outsourcing as a means to streamlining workflow. If you're trying to do it all yourself you're suicidal. I employ two part-time assistants to help me with various portions of my workflow. I've been in business for 5 years and for 3 of those I've had employees. It's SO worth the cost and the time spent training (as long as you find good employees who are willing to stay around for 2 years or more once you train them).

Ok--now onto my workflow checklist:

1. Add wedding guests to Constant Contact (completed by assistant)
At the reception I collect email addresses from guests who want to see all of the photos after the wedding.

2. Input anniversary into iCal (completed by assistant)
We send out anniversary cards to our clients every year.

3. iView -- time sort, rename RAW/consolidate to 1 folder -- make sure all files are there; back up on hard drive (completed by me)
I do this the night I get home from a wedding. I use iView MediaPro but I know Lightroom works magnificently for this as well.

4. Edit photos -- two folders (favorites/the rest); rename (completed by me)
Using iView, I quickly click through the photos, staring my favorites with 2 stars (80-100 photos) and the rest of the photos that I want to give the client with 1 star (another 500-600 images). I think it's important to pick the photos you like rather than delete the photos you don't want to keep. That way you're looking for the good stuff rather than focusing on the negative. And it's much easier to pick one photo out of a bunch that are similar rather than deleting the ones that you don't like until there's only one left. It's a time-saver. This process takes me about an hour per 1000 images. I try to get it done the first couple days after the wedding. When I'm done rating the ones I like, I delete the rest with one click.

Another point to make at this juncture is that it REALLY helps shorten the rest of your workflow if you're critical with your work and keep the number of images saved to a manageable number. The more I've improved as a photographer, the more critical I have become. Don't save similar images. Pick the best one out of the bunch for your client and delete the rest. That's what they're paying you to do.

5. Color correct favorites; create slideshow; post on blog (completed by me)
The same day that I finish step 4 I also complete step 5. I color correct my favorite 80-100 images using Camera RAW in Bridge. I shoot all RAW as I like the versatility it gives me in post processing. (See this post for some of my color-correcting technique.) Lightroom works great too! I am just used to Bridge.

One of my big goals is to keep the client happy throughout the entire process. I want them to have images to look at while they wait. They get to see some photos at the reception on the slideshow I do on my laptop. Then a couple days after the wedding, there is a blog post with my favorites as well as a web-based slideshow made using ShowIt Web.

6. Send Constant Contact email to guests, bride & groom (completed by assistant)
This email informs guests that some of my favorite images are posted on my blog with a slideshow, gives them the link, and also gives them a link to sign the guest book on Pictage so they will be informed when the event is released there.

7. Color correct "the rest" folder in Bridge and edit in PS (completed by assistant)
It's key to have an assistant do the bulk of your color-correction and image processing. I only color correct my favorite images for the blog and slideshow; my assistant does the rest.

8. Copy favorites into "the rest" folder; time sort, sort into category folders, rename (completed by assistant)
This is all done in Bridge and the purpose is to prep the images for FTP to Pictage. The favorite images are duplicated so that they appear in both my "favorites" folder--the first folder that clients see online--and in the corresponding folder for the part of the day they were shot in.

9. FTP images to Pictage (completed by assistant)

10. Submit event online to Pictage (completed by assistant)

11. Send "After Wedding" survey (completed by assistant)
See this post for an explanation.

12. Burn archive DVDs and backup on Crossfire (completed by assistant)
We save two copies of the edited files--one on DVD off-site and one on an external hard drive in the office.

13. Delete images from hard drive (completed by assistant)
Once the files are all backed-up as stated above we delete the files from our working internal hard drive.

14. Edit & release event online (completed by assistant)

15. Order/create products: DVD montage, Print credit, Proof Book, Gift Book(s), Custom Album, Parent albums, DVD of all images (completed by assistants--mostly)
My assistants do a majority of this including the first draft of the album design using my templates. I check/tweak the album design before posting a slideshow of it online for clients to view and revise. I also touch up all the photos myself once the album design is finalized.

16. Order 7x7 book for venue (completed by assistant)
We send a small book of my favorite images to the venue along with some brochures.

17. Send images to vendors (completed by assistant)

18. Set aside images for publications/website (completed by me)

19. Email bride about Wedding Chronicle submission about 1 month after wedding (completed by assistant)
The Wedding Chronicle is a local publication that we submit to regularly. If you want to get published, it's a good idea to make submissions a regular part of your workflow. We're working on adding other publications to our workflow.

20. Send "After Album Delivery" survey (completed by assistant)
Again, see this post for an explanation.

So that's it. As you can see, I'm mostly done with my part a day or two after the wedding. That frees me up to work on my business and other shoots that come along. And with this workflow, we're able to get all of the proofs online within two weeks of the wedding and the album design up within a month of the wedding.

I know other photographers who do it faster :). But this is what works for me. Hope it might offer some things that you are able to absorb into your workflow to streamline it even more!

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