Here’s final part of my description of what your wedding photographer does for you. You can see the previous installments about planning before the day and photographing the wedding itself - Part One and Part Two.
After the big day there’s still a lot for a professional wedding photographer to do. It’s normal to spend much more time on the post-wedding working, processing and editing, than on the preparation and actual photographing.
First things first, I need to look through everything that has been taken and make my selection of images to work with. This can be very time consuming, and can take as long as the actual day itself. There may well be in excess of a thousand exposures to look through. Firstly I’ll be looking to remove any images that have an issue, such as a surprise passer-by or an unfortunate facial expression. I’ll also be identifying the best version of images where I have taken several exposures, for instance the best family portrait where everyone has their eyes open and are looking straight at the lens. In some cases I’ll have to work out which two or more versions of a similar photograph need to be developed to I can use elements from both to get a final image.
You may have heard of photographers making a virtue out of the fact that they shoot ‘Raw’, and of course I’m one of them. This means that my camera records raw data files rather than finished files formats such as jpegs. This allows for much more effective adjustments during the editing – in terms of old 35mm film it’s like dealing with the negatives rather than re-copying the prints. This is when I check every photograph’s exposure and correct it if necessary, adjust the white balance so that the colours are true and crop the images if the composition needs to be tightened.
There are many other alterations that can be performed at this time as well, depending partly on the requirements for the finished images and partly on what I feel is suitable for the style of the wedding day that I’m looking at. These could be a cool desaturation of the colours, a gentle softening of some photographs, a sharpening up of others, reduction of digital noise in low light images or bringing some extra blue to a sunny summer sky.
Once I’m happy with how the processed files will come out they need to be rendered at high resolution into the final format - normally as a jpeg file. At this point it’s time for another backup to remove any risk to the process – so nothing needs to be redone even if there is a catastrophic hardware failure. After that I can look at making the final edits to the images. It’s only at this point that I start using the infamous Photoshop.
The uninitiated often announce to me that you can do anything in Photoshop. Well, it isn’t quite the case but you can do an awful lot, though it is time consuming and you have to have skill and experience to edit successfully. It takes patience and subtlety as you can easily overcook the pudding if you rush things.
I use Photoshop to remove distractions such as exit signs or fire extinguishers, to selectively lighten or darken parts of an image and to artistically blur the occasional background. I often find myself replacing a pair of closed eyes with an open set from another photograph. On rare occasions I have copied in an entire face to replace an unfortunate expression.
During the pre-wedding discussions with the couple I will ask about the degree of personal retouching that they’d like. This will vary from wedding to wedding, and may involve blemish removal, painting skin over tattoos and easing away of wrinkles. It’s not my style to overly work an image as if it’s going to be the cover for a glossy magazine, but I always say that the camera always lies – a moment frozen in time may well not reflect the view that we have of ourselves so I am happy to make adjustments so that the clients feel that they look their best.
Once all the editing is completed the finished files need to be backed up for a final time, online galleries and albums created, prints ordered and the final hi-res image files provided to the couple.
I hope this series provides a bit of an insight into what a wedding photographer does for a couple getting married, and just where that money goes to.
Have a look at my Wedding Portfolio to see if you think that I'm the Sussex Wedding Photographer for You.