It’s a common feeling for professional wedding photographers. It’s the end of a long day of shooting, and all of the wedding vendors are shutting it down and heading to their cars. For most every other vendor, the end of the wedding marks the end of their contract. For wedding photographers, though, it’s just the beginning. Most of the work lies ahead – the post production.
Wedding Photographers shoot a lot of images at every wedding. One single team from Lin and Jirsa (with three photographers) comes back with around 3,000 images per standard 10 hour wedding. While the averages range quite a bit, it’s not uncommon for photographers to shoot several thousand images at a full day wedding. The images have to be culled down to a reasonable number, eliminating all of the bad exposures and poorly composed shots. Then the color correction – hours and hours of balancing and adjusting to make all of the images consistent. The best part of all is saved for last – adding some actions, textures, or other stylized edits to the favorites. Finally – job complete! The images are ready to show the couple.
This process takes hours upon hours for most. There are things you can do to speed up your workflow, which we teach in our Lightroom Workflow Workshop and with our Presets; but increasingly, professional wedding photographers are turning to a specialist to help them with their color correction.
Note: This isn’t anything new – it’s actually been around since the days of Film. When a photographer was done shooting a wedding, most photographers would drop their exposed film off at the lab for processing. Several days later, they’d drop back in and pick up their negatives and proofs, ready to show their clients. Nowadays, there are several companies that provide the very same service for the digital wedding photographer – post production and color correction.
Because of the time commitment that is involved with color correction, it makes a good option to consider outsourcing. If you are going to outsource, ShootDotEdit is a great option.
So, what are some of the things that make them stand out?
1. DotPreview Service
This service helps make the transition to using a company for color correction easier. In essence, DotPreview is a sample editing of 10 images from throughout your wedding job, edited according to your chosen Color Profile, provided to you in one business day. It’s their way of guaranteeing you’ll like your color corrections. This is free, and if you don’t like the way your DotPreview came back, you can order another one or call in for some help.
2. Color Wizard
ShootDotEdit uses a Color Wizard that allows photographers to clearly communicate their style preferences for color correction. It also sets a standard for how all of your images need to be edited. Instead of trying to “match your style,” the Color Wizard allows you to move sliders around on a sample image to communicate your preferences in Exposure, Contrast, and Color Temperature.
3. Fast Turnaround Time
Most of their color corrections are turned around in 48 hours. This has the potential of making you a hero in the eyes of your clients, as industry standards are much longer.
4. Their Lightroom 5 Workflow
Smart Preview in Lightroom allows you to send ShootDotEdit smaller preview files that they edit from, and then send you back the completed catalog. The benefit is the faster upload time and the ability to do work on the front end (categorizing, presets, etc) before sending it in.
For wedding photographers that are shooting mid to high volume, their Unlimited Plan makes sense. For what it will cost you to have one wedding edited elsewhere, you can get a majority of your color correction done by ShootDotEdit throughout the entire month. They also have a Rollover Plan, which allows for you to submit 1 wedding or 2 portrait sessions each month for $99/month.
Cons: Not for Everyone
ShootDotEdit is geared towards the professional wedding photographer. The entire process and pricing model is suited for pros that are shooting “at least 8 weddings per year” according to their website. It’s also suited for those with higher opportunity costs. If you have a marketing strategy in place but just don’t have the time to execute, then you drastically need a service like this. If, on the other hand, you only shoot a few weddings a year and you’re content with the amount of time you need to spend in post production, then it might not be the service for you.
Also, keep in mind that photography (and post production) is subjective. Whenever you outsource something subjective, you’re going to have to develop a tolerance for results that don’t match exactly what you might have done. After all, you shot the image and you likely have a very specific vision for the final product. With the many tools that they provide (mentioned previously), this should not be a common issue, if an issue at all. Plus, with solid customer service, you should be able to resolve any issues you might have.
Lastly, it’s important to gauge how much you actually enjoy post production. If it’s something you dread, something that keeps you from growing your business and spending time away from your family, then this is your best option for freeing up your time. Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below. What other services have you used? What has worked for you?