The second most common question I am asked is,”Steve, how long will our photos take to finish?” And my answer usually ranges from: a few hours, a few days, three weeks, twelve weeks, sometimes up to three to four months, it really depends…. Usually, under normal circumstances, meaning photos that do not require much work, a queue of client projects that is not too long; photos and videos will take anywhere between three to twelve weeks to finish. That’s around one to three months, which is considered rather fast in the wedding industry. If I have no queue, which happens when it’s not wedding season, and a wedding that is fairly easy to complete, I can sometimes pound out those photos within a few hours and you can possibly have your photos on your computer the same day as your wedding. But that’s very very rare. REPEAT…THAT’S RARE!
While this production timeline may seem very long to the average Joe, some photographers, may take up to a year to deliver their entire wedding project to their clients. Albums and enlargements sometimes take forever to create. That’s why I don’t do them anymore. The modern bride is not as patient as her ancestors. She wants photos, fast, so she can share twitter or facebook.
So why does it take so long for you to receive your photos and video?
The answer: Post-Production Hell.
Now, what is it exactly?
Well, weddings are much like producing movies and go through three steps: pre-production (which is your fundraising and planning stage of your wedding) , the actual production(which is your wedding), and post-production (the work after your wedding) “Pre” and “Post” production in movies, and your wedding, is where most of the work is done. In movies, post-production can take years to complete after the actual filming if complicated computer graphics are integrated into each shot.
For your wedding, just the act of turning a digital photograph into something spectacular, can also take time.
To better explain the post production process, here is a summary of the process that one photo goes through before it makes it to the bride.
STEP ONE: Enhancing The Basic Photo
This is an actual photo that is not enhanced.
All digital photos, in my opinion, must be corrected before they are delivered to the client. I don’t care how great a digital camera is, it can never compare to the human eye. What the human captures and remembers is night and day to what the camera records.
This photo has some major problems with it:
- It’s dull in color
- Lacks the natural warmth of the sun
- The flash only reaches the groom and doesn’t hit the bride
- The feel of the shot is dreary.
- This is not what the bride and groom saw or felt on that day.
To fix this I must manipulate what the digital camera captured into real-world reality.
This is Lightroom!
The goal here is to enhance the exposure and color of the photograph to re-tell the story of the photo accurately without creating a noticeable bias. I may spend hours adjusting everything from color, details in shadows, lighting, and much more, just for one photo. I have to be careful. Because if I create too much of a bias, too much of an effect, my client will realize that the photo has been manipulated. And the reality of this photo goes from non-fiction, to the ultimate….fake.
A great photographer does not create great moments. He captures it. There’s a difference. So if I succeed, the greatest compliment I should receive is no other compliment other than “I love the photos!” If a client ever says, “I love the effect…” Then as a photographer, I have failed.
Here is the finished export from Adobe Lightroom
STEP TWO: RETOUCHING BY HAND
Think I’m done now? No way.
The photo is about 90% done right now, but now it must be manually touched up by hand. Lighting, color, and warmth have been fixed. Luckily there is no one to remove from the background from the photo. There are no pimples to touch up, or airplanes to get rid of. But the brides face is shining rather brightly and requires touching up.
Sheen is removed from bride, skin tones adjust once more.
The finished photo looks as though it has not been re-touched. This is how the bride and groom remember it through their eyes: a yellow sunset, blue sky, a fun ocean to play in where the water was warm.
This tedious two-step-process is repeated for every photo that I take and that’s why it can take a little longer than you might expect to get great pictures.
Actual screen-capture of a wedding being color corrected
NOW WHAT ABOUT VIDEO?
I really wish video production was a two step process. But it’s not and that’s why it can be a deeper hell. Not only must a video be color corrected, but there’s audio correction, titling, compressing, cutting, splicing, pasting, rendering, lip syncing. It’s hell. It’s really LOWER hell. There are so many steps here that if I list them, I’ll bore you and myself to death. Lets just say that that process is long and hard work, and you have to take my word on it. Haha.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY
The lesson here that I’m trying to teach you is that more than likely, you’re not gonna get your photos and video right away. I will work hard, but it’s going to be anywhere between 3 to 12 weeks. I can send you a few photos for announcements. If you do need or want your photos right away because you have a reception, I do have options that consist of a rush fee. The fee is to cover the cost of the added help I will need to hire to finish the project faster.