How do you decide what photographs you deliver to your couples?

Thank you for the question, this is one that comes up a lot with clients in our early meetings and with other photographers as well. This process is very subjective from photographer to photographer. For myself it’s a whittling down process that takes a little time because of the sheer number of photographs we take at our weddings.

I guess the 1st thing to cover is that I over shoot. When we leave a wedding day it’s very rare that we have less than 3,500 photographs on our cards. Some wedding photographers find that crazy and say that someone should know what shots they are wanting, get them, and move on. I couldn’t disagree more.

During a wedding day there are so many moments happening that you can’t plan for, just keep shooting. We are covering a full day as it unfolds, all without the benefits of control, posing, or the kind of manipulation we have on an average shoot. There are no “do overs” with weddings and our philosophy is to just keep shooting.┬áThe down side to that is that when we get home from the wedding day, we have A LOT of photographs to weed through.

After backing up all of the cards onto a few hard drives, I generally start the process that night while the wedding is still very fresh on my mind. Occasionally I will wait until the next day if it’s an extremely late wedding, but I want to cut that big number by at least half within 24 hours.

While doing this first cut, I’m mainly looking for obvious shots that are duplicates, test shots, missed focus, etc. I’m very loose with my selection knowing that a lot more will be cut, but I just want to get down to a solid pool to pick from.

I then import those photographs into my catalog system and take a closer look for color correction. This is where photographs get a much more in depth look and I make judgements as we go. With a much closer eye on cutting down to files that will be edited, I probably cut out another 20%.

Up next is editing. During the edit process I will eliminate anything that seems to be too “similar” to another photograph or obviously doesn’t fit the story of the day.

Once every file is edited I will slowly go through the story of the day eliminating a few here and there to tell the best story and get down to a manageable final number.

I don’t have specific number I’m trying to deliver like a lot of photographers do. I want to deliver the best story of the day and that means balancing wants and needs for the final delivery. I am probably still a little to loose in the amount I deliver. Even though to me all of the reception dance floor pictures start to look the same after a couple of hundred, to that group of family or friends a specific shot could mean the world, so I deliver a lot more than I ever intend to.

While that breaks down my “process”, here’s the real answer to the question.

My couples trust me. They contract me, assign a portion of their budget to me, and I believe that is because they have faith that I know what I am doing. It’s very rare that upon delivery a bride or groom will come back to me and ask, “Hey, did you get a shot of….?”

In the end I believe I know how to tell a wedding story and that is every bit as important as how to work the camera.