What Happens After a Client Shoot?

My editing process (the process that occurs after my photoshoots) is quite extensive.  I am upfront with my clients about this, in fact, I think it’s good for them to know the kind of attention to detail I put into each image in their gallery.  However, I’ve never really spelled it out.  So I thought it’d be fun to share this!

[Tip for Photographers: There isn’t one “right” way to post process as I know most of you probably do it differently than I do!  For those photographers just starting out, my suggestion to you is that the “right” way to edit your shots is whatever feels right to you.  Reading my steps should just give you an idea of how someone else does it.]

Keep in mind that if there was a sliding scale of how much time one spends on post processing, I am probably on the higher end.

The reason for that is because I am a self-professed Perfectionist, especially when it comes to my artwork — whether that is sketching, painting or photography.

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What Happens After My Client Photohoots:

1.  Upon returning home from a shoot, I will upload all the images from my cameras.  I save them to multiple drives for safety.

2.  Within 24 hours of the shoot, I will scan all the images to pull out some of the eye-catching ones, so I can blog about them.  I do this right after the shoot, so it is fresh on my mind.

[Fun Fact:  A 1.5 hour lifestyle shoot will produce over 1000 images.  I shoot a lot, so that no one has to hold a pose and so I don't miss that split second Toddler Tommy held Mommy's hand or Baby George showed his toothless smile.  I will shoot less for commercial, senior and model shoots where there isn't as much movement or time sensitivity.]

3.  On another day, I will go through the images slowly, look at them one-by-one, and give each image a rating, so I’ll know which ones I like (ie, 3 stars) and which ones should make the client gallery (ie, 4 stars).

4.  I go through the “4 star” images AGAIN to downsize it to the final set.  Often, this takes 2 more walk-thrus.

[Fun Fact:  I include all the images that I think make some sort of impact.  There has to be a reason why the image is there — whether it represents something, tells part of a story, expresses an emotion, or creates an emotion when viewed.  My average number of images in a client gallery is 70-80 for a 1.5 hour lifestyle shoot.]

5.  Once I have the final set of images, I will go through the images one-by-one AGAIN and do light editing in Lightroom, if needed, such as cropping and straightening.  This step is usually a quick one as I try to get this right in the camera when I take the shot.

6.  Then it’s my favorite step and the one that takes the longest:  oomphing the images!  I pull the images into Photoshop for deeper editing work.  This is usually where I process the images to create the mood that I had in mind when I took the shot.

This is the step where there is a huge variance between photographers.  If you are selecting a photographer, make sure you like her creative vision, which is not just the composition of the shot, but how she processes the image!

[Fun Fact:  I started photography using film cameras.  I learned how to develop film and process my own prints.  From that experience, I formed the belief that half the final image depends on what was captured, and the other half depends on how it was processed.  Yes, HALF of the final image relies on the post processing!  That doesn't mean heavy processing can make up for a poor image; and it also doesn't mean a great image doesn't need any processing.  In my opinion, for the average set of shots, you need both.  At least, that's how I roll!  :)]

7.  Now that my gallery has the right set of images in it and the images have been oomphed, I will review it again to make sure the order is how I want it.  I will also look for outliers — ie, is there anything that doesn’t belong?  Sometimes I’ll go back and re-process an image or take things out/add things in.  I try to make sure the gallery tells the story of that day.

[Fun Fact:  I prefer to do this step on a different day than Step 5, so I can have a fresh perspective of the flow of the images and whether the images reflect the mood I want.]

8.  Now that my gallery is complete, I will upload everything into my online slideshow and select music that will match their gallery.  I’ll watch the slideshow from start to finish, so I’ll know what my clients will experience after I release it to them.

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If you are doing the math, that is a minimum of 7 times that I’ll go through each client gallery!

Sometimes I wonder if that is going overboard, but it’s all about where my heart lies.

I don’t do these post processing steps because I have to or because a book says I need to.  I do it because I enjoy it.  So when I release a gallery that I love and am proud of, all the work is worth it!

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8 Comments

  1. Annie,

    Thanks so much for sharing your post processing methods. I have a very similar method of processing, although I don’t take as many photos as you! LOL! It’s assuring to hear that we are doing similar tasks. Sometimes I wonder if I am doing too much, or if there is a way to shorten my post processing, but like you’ve said, it’s the attention to each photo, making sure you are telling the story from the session, and making sure it’s all about where my heart lies. Thanks for sharing!

    • You said it so well: the editing process is about making sure the images are “where my heart lies”!

  2. Jason

    The results speak for themselves!

    • Results is what we, as Artists, should judge what is “too much” or “too little”. If you are happy with what you’ve created, then when you did is enough! :)

  3. Michelle Cryns

    Annie thank you so much for sharing your editing process. I am just staring out & this info was just what I needed. I love your blog & will add it to my reading list :o)

    • Thanks, Michelle! I am glad you got something out of this post. Happy shooting (and editing)! :)

  4. Kris

    Thank you for sharing your process. I am on a similar track and have been worried that I am going about it the wrong way. May I ask how long your post processing takes from the shoot to client delivery?

    • Hi Kris,

      How long is my turnaround time? I will finish post processing the images and then upload them into a client gallery on my website approximately 7 days after the photoshoot.

      I will start this entire process — namely, purging images from my memory cards onto my computer and then pulling them into LR — IMMEDIATELY after I return from the shoot. I like doing things right away, so my turnaround time is probably on the shorter end of a range of photographers. I think 2 weeks to 5 weeks is more the norm, just FYI. For wedding photography, it is longer.

      Hope that helps!

      Annie