How we Edit Your Wedding Photos
Today’s brides have many options when it comes to photography. As Technology becomes better and better, we can utilize the creative software tools available to us to polish and finalize our client's wedding photos.
If you made it to this page, then you may be wondering how we produce your images from start to finish. This article is designed to give you some insight into what happens in post-production behind the scenes after we capture your images.
- Backup & Upload Process
- Image Selection Process
- Color & Tonal Correction
- RAW Conversion
- Creative Edits
- Signature Edits
- Gallery Upload
Photography has gone from a mechanical/chemical process to one that takes place almost solely digitally. Your images are captured in their RAW format as .CR2 or .ARW files directly from our cameras. Shooting in the RAW format allows us the most latitude in terms of post-production. RAW images cannot be displayed as is, but have to be converted to the more universal JPEG image format after we apply adjustments. The RAW form allows us to utilize the broadest spectrum of dynamic range in a file (dynamic range is the information between the brightest part of an image and the darkest part of an image).
The RAW format takes up quite a bit more space, with a full wedding photographed in RAW taking up between 200-300 gigabytes of information before any conversions take place.
Once we finish shooting your session, the same day, your session is downloaded to a local hard drive, and then immediately uploaded to our production server configured in RAID 5 for redundancy and speed. That server syncs with cloud storage using a fiber optic connection and begins uploading images to the cloud as soon as they are downloaded to it. Having three copies of your pictures, with at least 1 off-site is known as a 3-2-1 backup system and is essential for protecting your images.
Once backups are complete, then we move onto image selection.
Time Involved: 1 Hour
To begin image selection, we use specialized software that catalogs and browses large RAW files quickly. This software also allows us to add color tags, keywords, or star ratings to your images. From here we will cull your pictures “in” first and remove blurry images, unflattering expressions, or duplicate photos to best tell the story of your wedding.
From there, we then go back and cull “out” any images that don’t lend themselves to the story, perfecting the final product we deliver to you.
Next, we add keywords to images and tags to help us organize them better for you, this would include things like “details,” or “bridal prep,” or “ceremony,” to help us quickly search and navigate images in the future, and also organize images inside your gallery.
Next, we ensure that times are synced on all of the files and that the file naming convention makes sense.
Then we create a folder structure for all of your files.
Lastly, we then tag the creative edits that we will be doing for you. These images are a selection of the pictures that are designed to tell the wedding story in the form of an album. More on that in a little bit.
Total time involved: 3-6 Hours
Color and tonal correction are essential to polishing a final image. During this stage, we take each individual picture and analyze its color, contrast, exposure, white balance, black and white points, highlights and shadow detail, and clarity.
We start this process by working on exposure, or the overall luminance of the image. We shoot as correct as possible in-camera but will make adjustments on our calibrated monitors to get the best results.
Next, we will fix an image’s color temperature. Weddings are often shot in mixed lighting situations. This will sometimes cause an image to have a mixture of colors that don't necessarily blend together. We will adjust the images color balance between orange and blue, and the tint between green and magenta to help find the most neutral color possible.
From here, we make individual adjustments to highlight and shadow detail, making sure to preserve as much information at both ends of the spectrum. This can be a little bit more difficult in high contrast environments such as images that were taken outdoors at noon; however, modern software does a great job at handling those situations. We then we'll adjust the contrast, clarity, and black point of an image to ensure that it is correctly displayed.
Next, we will target individual color adjustments. Most often, we are adjusting the Hue and saturation in the red and orange channels to correctly display the color of our subject’s skin tones. It is essential to make sure that the images accurately reflect the appearance of the scene we were photographing in when printed. This is why we always use calibrated monitors using specialized hardware to make sure that the color is as accurate as possible.
Lastly, we will add sharpening to an image, and noise reduction in two photos that were taken in low-light situations. This will ensure the highest quality digital file that can make beautiful prints.
The last step in this process is to run each image through specialized software that will Target the skin tones by utilizing the orange channel in an image and separate the texture from the color, allowing us to create smoother skin tones and better color gradations on our subject’s skin.
Total time: 8-12 Hours
What's a color correction and image organization is complete, we then have to convert images from the raw format to the more common jpeg format that will allow for printing, and displaying online. Utilizing hardware from our custom built production computers, we employ software to create this conversion process. We allow this to run overnight. We will convert images at full resolution, and then develop web-size copies to expedite upload and download process and conserve client hard drive space.
Total Time: 30 minutes + Computer time
Remember when we selected creative edits back in step 2? Now is the time to edit them. These images have already gone through color correction, and now we will apply localized edits to each of them. This means we will go through by hand and individually make color and tonal adjustments to specific parts of an individual image. While step 3 had us adding global changes, on Step 5, we will break each particular image down into sections and add localized adjustments to make the image stand out.
This can include brightening parts of an image, darkening parts of it, removing some elements like exit signs, or background distractions, and in some examples, opening or closing subject’s eyes or swapping heads.
This process is very meticulous and will be done to a selection of images that we recommend to use in your album. We also can do this process to photographs that a client chooses for their album or prints in addition to our recommendations if the client requests.
Total time involved: 4-5 hours of initial time per wedding
Our Signature Edits are unlike any other photos that you have seen, they are shot from the start with a signature edit in mind, and will go through a process of taking an image from excellent, to exceptional. These images require a significant more amount of time than our color correction and creative edits.
We have always believed that the creative process needs to be segmented by specialty, which is the single reason why we can get them done quickly, and correctly.
In movies, cameramen are not the people that are editing the film, and the people editing the film are not the same team that is doing the special effects. Our graphic design team are essentially our special effects team and specialize in creating this type of image.
The first step in a Signature Edit is art direction. Candidates are approved by Michael and given markups with instructions on the edits to make.
Then our team will complete our standard editing process on an image; however, they will first maximize dynamic range, and then add selective contrast to parts of an image as a whole. We will create subject selections, remove distractions, and may replace the sky, increase symmetry by moving subjects or background elements, and then add color toning to each individual part of an image. Once the initial edits are complete, they are sent to Michael for review, Michael will then approve an image once finished.
Our Signature Edits are designed for wall art, album covers, or full-page spreads and is intended to tell the story of your wedding day in a single image, much like a poster used to advertise a movie. These images are designed to be impactful and unique.
Total Time Involved: 1-4 Hours Per Gallery
Once your full image set is completed, an online gallery is then created to store your images. This acts as a 4th backup device as well, securing your pictures in the cloud. After you come in for your reveal and album selection, we will then send you the online gallery via a web link and a phone app. We require that we meet with you in person to review your images before submitting them to you to ensure satisfaction and go over your album options.
Your gallery can be accessed anywhere in the world, and you can download your images as many times as you want.
Gallery Prep Time: 60 Minutes
Wedding Post-Production Timeline
As you can see, wedding production can take up to 30+ hours per wedding to deliver a quality product to each and every one of our clients. Working with a team of individuals, and splitting tasks allow us to deliver quality results to all of our clients, and still maintain a 2-3 week turnaround time for your images.
Post production begins the Monday after your wedding, at which time you will receive an e-mail with a link to schedule your reveal and preview. From there you can schedule your preview at a time that is convenient to you. We recommend bringing your friends and family to the studio to view your images for the first time to a champagne toast provided by our studio in our customized viewing theater.