After the engagement session, as the wedding date gets closer, there is still much to be done.
Sometimes the gap between engagements and weddings is a full year, so how do you often use that time? Do you relax and put off preparations until one week before the date? If so, you may already know how much stress this can create for you and your clients.
So what should you be doing? Perhaps you could list everything you have learned about the couple so far — which poses suit them, what they expect from you and what gear would be best to bring for their big day.
These kinds of notes will help you a lot when planning your wedding workflow. But there are still so many ways to improve your workflow before, the day of and after the wedding.
Having a solid workflow foundation in place will benefit not only you, but your clients as well.
BENEFITS OF HAVING A WEDDING WORKFLOW
There is nothing worse for a client than a photographer who appears stressed or overwhelmed. Having a set wedding workflow is always good because it keeps your mind calm and everything else organized, no matter what happens. If you have a workflow that you stick to, you know what you are supposed to do next and keep moving forward no matter how crunched for time you are.
This makes things clear for everybody. You can share this workflow with your second shooter, the bride and the groom and even other vendors at the wedding. This way, they can schedule their time accordingly. They’ll be able to understand your thoughts and cooperate better so that you can focus on capturing breathtaking photos.
About two to four weeks before the wedding, a wedding photography workflow may include several steps. Here’s where to start.
1. BOOKING & REVIEWING CONTRACT
Before the wedding date arrives, make sure that you have the wedding detail sheet. This means the exact addresses of the venues along with details like the number of people in the bridal party and how to contact the priest if required.
Talking to the clergy might be a good thing when shooting a ceremony where you’re unfamiliar with the religious customs. You would want to be respectful of those traditions during the ceremony.
Also, get the schedule of the day and the list of vendors so that you don’t have to disturb the newly-weds on their honeymoon to ask them any questions.
2. HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH THE COUPLE & SEND A QUESTIONNAIRE
A simple phone call can answer many of your and your clients’ queries before the wedding day. You can ask the bride to bring along an invitation to include in the detail shots and remind the couple of any remaining payments. You can also confirm the time you need to arrive at the venue.
During this chat, you can also ask the questions that are otherwise awkward for you to ask on the wedding day. You can ask if you have been included in the list of caterers or if you need to bring a meal of your own.
You can also ask the couple if they have any family details for you. Some parents are divorced and may not get along. Some family members may not be on good terms with each other. And you certainly don’t want to ask for the grandparents on the wedding day, only to find the groom’s grandfather recently passed away.
You can also do this by making the bride and groom fill up a questionnaire form before their wedding. By doing this you will escape the embarrassment or any kind of awkwardness and still have all the answers.
3. SEND A WEDDING ADVICE EMAIL
This can include some tips on staying calm, enjoying the day with family and friends, having a good sleep, not worrying about posing for photos, or any positive thing that the bride and the groom might want to hear.
4. GET READY WITH YOUR GEAR
The day or two before a wedding, you should get your gear ready and gather the wedding invitation suite into a folder. Charge your camera and flash batteries, clear memory cards, and check your lighting equipment. Check your lenses and clean them. This will help you stay cool when the time comes to pick up your bag and reach the venue.
5. ARRIVE AT THE VENUE EARLY
This tip is mostly for the new wedding photographers but can apply to both novice and expert. If you have never been to the venue before, get an early start. You can check in with the other vendors, set up any gear you want, and get a feel of the venue by doing this. This way you are doing yourself and your clients a favor by walking around and understanding the venue better. You also have some time for damage control if any of your gear goes missing or becomes faulty.
6. SHOOT THE WEDDING
Start photographing the wedding — from getting ready to the reception. Photograph candids throughout the day and formals and details in between. Once everything is done, congratulate the bride and the groom and head home.
Once you’re home, download photos from your camera to the computer first thing. Make sure photos are saved in at least two different locations for safekeeping. You can use cloud storage to minimize the risk of losing photos.
Edit 4-5 photos that you think are the best. Share a sneak peek with the couple and on social media, usually the night of or the day after the wedding.
7. WORK ON POST-PRODUCTION — CULLING, EDITING & DELIVERY
It’s time to cull your photos. Look for the best ones to deliver to the newlyweds. Edit the selected photos. You can use Lightroom to apply presets and make exposure and color adjustments first. Then you can go back for local adjustments.
Keep sharing the edited images in small batches on social media. If you feel editing takes away all your personal time and also a chunk of time you would otherwise spend on improving your business, you can use trusted editing services like ShootDotEdit.
Once you are done with this, put together the final deliverables as detailed in the contract. You can do this through a custom USB drive with digital files and an online ordering gallery for prints. The USB can be sent by mail while your printing lab sends the album directly to the couple so you don’t have to worry about it.
After the couple orders an album, you can design it on a software like Pixellu, get it proofed, and modified by your clients before finalizing it for print. Designing and printing labs like WHCC (White House Custom Color) provide all these services under one roof.
8. PUBLISH THE PHOTOS
Share these wedding images on your Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. This is crucial to relevance and also builds anticipation in your clients when they see their fabulous photos. Of course, you should tag them. Also, tag other vendors at the wedding, showing appreciation for their work and build a warm relationship with them. Vendors act as strong referrals for the future. Put these images in your personal portfolio.
Don’t forget to blog the images. You can use Blogstomp to combine, rename or resize the images. If you feel you aren’t as good with words, you can always outsource to blogging service providers like Fotoskribe.
9. SEND A GREETING CARD TO CLIENTS ON THEIR FIRST ANNIVERSARY
Although the wedding day is long gone, and you have delivered the images to your clients, don’t just forget about them. Send them a card on their first wedding anniversary!
This is a great way to show them they were more than just a client to you. And maybe one of their cousins or a friend is planning to get married soon. By staying top-of-mind, there is a high possibility of them referring you to their friends and family.
Perfect Your Wedding Workflow
We have shared a basic wedding workflow here, but there can never be one workflow that works for all. What works for you may not work for other photographers.
Your own workflow this season might have to be tweaked here and there to get more bookings and produce better results in the next season. So take some time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Use that to outline your perfect wedding workflow.
At ShootDotEdit, our goal is to take the “heavy lifting” of photo editing off your plate — giving you more time to run your business, spend time with your family, or even just have a life again!
Click here to learn more about what ShootDotEdit can do for you!