SEO wedding photographer tips

SEO for Wedding Photographers: 5 Easy-to-Follow Tips

SEO for wedding photographers made easy in a few steps

A decade ago, finding a wedding photographer wasn’t that complicated. An elder of the family would just hire a photography studio in their area, one which shot everything from a passport size photo to a full wedding. Today, wedding photography is a completely different ball-game. It has become a whole field in itself.

Shooting a wedding is the most obvious part of the job. But part of being a wedding photographer is also marketing yourself and your business today. The more people see your work, the more inquiries and assignments you get. Your best wedding photos have no value if no one is reaching your website or seeing them. With the internet and the ever-present Google, one click can show a to-be bride thousands of photographers to choose from in her city. In this scenario, it’s increasingly important that when people search for a wedding photographer, you land up, if not in the first three, but at least the first page of the Google search results. If you’re not on that search result page, you’re missing out on potential clients. To generate traffic to your website, you need to follow some rules that will help your website come up in search results. And that leads us to SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) ranking.

Now SEO for wedding photographers is not a technology monster that you cannot slay. SEO optimisation is far more easy to achieve than you realise. If you read on you’ll know that it doesn’t have to be a complicated and time-consuming process. There is no mystical secret to a good SEO. But there are some best-assumed practices that can help you.

Screenshot of SEO results

Over the years, we’ve done quite a lot of trial and error and figured out what works. These are things we did manually and organically without paying for Google ads. From our experience, there are a few simple things you need to keep in mind and you will be sorted. It worked for us, so there is no reason why it shouldn’t work for you!

#1 The Linking Game

Before you even start thinking about backlinking or internal linking, you need to fix the links that are already present on your website. Broken links can do your website more harm than any backlinks can do good. We suggest that you find a website that checks for broken links. You can use sites like the Siteliner and Google Webmaster Tools to find your broken links and fix them.

Now let’s talk about building backlinks. When a website or blog other than yours links to your website, it gives you credibility. Think of it as a good reference in an interview. The more other blogs and websites link out to yours, Google will deem your site as more credible. But also make sure the source is credible and trustworthy. A couple of backlinks from popular websites is always better than twenty spams. If wedding blogs have mentioned you, ask them for a link back to your website or blog. You can also establish and maintain good relationships with the wedding vendors you work with. Tagging and mentioning them in your posts will encourage backlinks from them. Another way to backlink to your website is adding it to all your social media accounts.

Also, add internal links to your own content. This is a good way of improving your bounce rate. But don’t go crazy. Keep only 3-4 internal links in a post – a link to your homepage, one of your other blog posts or the wedding venue. Make sure that your images or blog posts are shareable so clients and their family can share it. If a lot of people share articles from your website, it’ll add to your credibility. As people share your photos and posts, the traffic to your website will also steadily increase. Link stock image

#2 Use the right keywords and tags

We can’t stress enough how important choosing the right keywords are for SEO. The first step here is to think like your average consumer. What will a couple search for when looking for a wedding photographer? Make a list of all probable words and phrases that a potential customer might use to search for the likes of your business.

It’s important that your keyword is related to the content of your post. So once you’ve finalised on a keyword/s, try and make sure you use the exact same thing in the following – post title, URL, H1/H2 tags, meta keyword and meta tag. Meta tag is that little description beneath the title that you can see in search results. So make sure that your meta tag description gives the reader information that is enticing enough for them to click on when they view you in search results.  Use the keyword a few times at the beginning of the article and then spread it evenly 3-4 times throughout the post.

#3 Add Alt Tags and Titles to your Images

Google doesn’t understand images. Adding Alt tags or Titles to your images simply tells Google in words, what your image is about. It helps categorise your images into different buckets and makes it easier for Google to index them. So when the next time a bride searches for pre-wedding ideas or bridal portraits, if you’ve added the right words to your images, they would pop up in her search results. Also try and use you include your keyword in the alt titles and tags, but don’t spam every single image with the same thing. Keep the content related and specific to the image. You don’t want your bridal portraits popping up when someone searches for portfolio shots, do you?

#4 Make your Website Light and Mobile Friendly

Oh, the horror of a visitor moving away because your page took too long to load! More and more people are using mobile phones for browsing, so websites that are optimised for phones are boosted by Google in results. Simply said, faster websites rank better. Check your website on various mobile devices to make sure it works properly.

Another way to help faster loading of your pages is to down-size the images you upload. Down-sizing doesn’t mean you have to lose out on quality or clarity of the image. You can easily use Photoshop or plugins like JPEGmini to help reduce image size without compromising on quality. You should also spend some time choosing a good hosting provider for your website. The time it takes to load your website and its security depends on the kind of host you invest in. So, do some research and make sure it’s a good one. If you have any trouble with the above, consult a web developer to help you out.

#5 Content Content Content!

None of the above tips will help you if your content is not engaging. Once a reader/viewer arrives at your website, only your content will keep them from moving away. Try and create content that other wedding photographers, as well as potential clients, will relate to. Use a conversational and easy-to-read writing style for your blog content. For example, if you’re uploading an image gallery on your wedding blog, make sure your text is not the same old repeat of what you said about the previous couple. Add in details unique to the couple – why they fell in love, funny moments from the wedding, what makes their love story special and what you as a photographer loved about the wedding. This way not only will the readers keep coming back for more but the client you wrote about will also appreciate it!

As much as it is important to create good content, it’s also imperative that you create it frequently. Disappearing for days on end will affect the way Google ranks your website. So keep posting new and topical content regularly to increase your chances of landing on the first page of search results. Also, make sure that your tone and style of writing remains true to your brand image. Try and keep the length of the article under a thousand words. It’s also important that you create unique and original content. Don’t ever copy paste content from other websites. You’ll lose your credibility, and Google can read duplicate content. So your SEO will suffer too.

This is not the be-all and end-all list. Google keeps changing its algorithm every few months so no one knows how exactly it works. But getting these done is surely a step forward towards building up your website’s rankings. Consistently following these for a couple of months should get you better results, we’re sure of that! Feel free to ask us any questions about SEO and we’ll help you out! Have we missed out on anything? Let us know in the comments!

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Tools to Increase Productivity in Photography Business

Some tools and resources we use that make our work faster and more efficient

Wedding photography is an amazing job, isn’t it!? We shoot stories of extraordinary love and celebrations, travel to exotic destinations and create beautiful fairytales for couples. And for half the time, yes, it is exactly like this! We meet amazing people with beautiful stories and help capture one of the most special days of their lives. But the other part of the job is essentially a desk job where we spend a larger part of our work lives on the images we just shot. When you think about becoming a wedding photographer, you naturally don’t think about the hours of laborious work that come with it – data backup, culling, editing, uploading, delivery, albums, online presence, and so on. But a majority of being a wedding photographer includes all the above.

A few years ago, we, just like everybody else slogged on with thousands of files, backing them up, renaming them, copying them into hundreds of folders, editing each one separately, painfully outputting each one, delivering them to the client in a USB, and on and on and on. But the past couple of years have given us great tools and programmes that have made this process from taking an image to delivering them, much faster and easier. Although we do spend a fair amount of time on our desks still, let’s say we don’t break our backs all night anymore. (Unless we’re on a deadline!)

Including these tools in your workflow will save you hours of unessential labour and keep you ahead of deadlines. We have written in detail about the workflow we follow in our studio and why it is important in a previous post. So give it a read if you need some quick tips on how to create a better workflow for a successful and efficient photography business.

Let’s take a look at a few of the tools and programmes we use in our studio and how they help us increase our efficiency.

Online Sharing System: Google Drive and Dropbox

These file sharing and storage systems make our internal working process super convenient! It is a very essential part of our daily workflow. There is no need to keep passing around a pen drive to share data or write everything in our diaries to keep track of things. The Dropbox/Google Drive folders can share data with any amount of people you give access to. So keeping a track of our assignments and work projects in one single Numbers/Spreadsheet file is hassle-free. We can also share images and files with our editors, content writers and social media managers.

Also, all of this is offline! Any changes made to a file by one person gets automatically updated and synced for all. Additionally, it’s a great backup option for project files and work-in-process files. If you also want to backup heavier files, you can explore their pro paid versions that give you more storage space.

Tools to increase productivity in photgraphy business

Photo Culling and Post Processing: Photo Mechanic / Lightroom / Photoshop

We know you’re thinking that if you have Lightroom, why use another software for importing and culling? The answer lies in the reason we’re writing this article – to increase productivity. Photo Mechanic beats Lightroom in efficiency by miles! It can browse through tons of files much more quickly than Lightroom, saving precious time. In Lightroom, rendering a file, going through them with smart preview or even switching between photos is painfully slow. The whole process can take hours. Photo Mechanic goes through images with incredible speed. It also helps cull, organise, name, label and sort images into different buckets, so you can be equally efficient in the editing and development stage. The software gives the option of colour labels, ratings, flags and other ranking methods to identify the ones you want to prioritise. But it’s not a photo-processing/editing tool. So once you’ve shortlisted the images you want to work on, the next step is moving the images from Photo Mechanic to Lightroom which the said tool manages quite effectively.

Lightroom is a great tool for bulk edits. About 80% of images from a wedding require only some basic correction like adjusting exposure, white balance, colour temperature, contrast, vibrance, saturation, sharpening and reducing noise if any. If we follow these individual steps for every single photograph, it could take weeks to complete one wedding set. And we honestly do not have that kind of time. So what do we do? We have some basic presets in Lightroom basis our style of shooting and the kind of photos we need to edit. A preset for all similar images reduces the steps and speeds up the process, leaving us with enough time to give extra attention to 5-star photos!

Now, this is where we need t0 bring our the big gun – Photoshop. All of our photos that need detailed editing and special attention go into this software. You can do almost anything you want once you get a picture into Photoshop. It’s also more of a photo manipulation software than basic editing. You can use it to enhance certain part of the images, make dramatic effects and create concept shots.

A screenshot of our Lightroom catalogue showing our presets for images.

Client image sharing: Pixieset

We no longer have to worry about sending a courier to our clients with their images on a pen drive thanks to this nifty little software. Pixieset is a cloud-based client delivery software. It provides easy download and sharing of images for the clients. We love that we can upload high-resolution image galleries which can also serve as a back-up for images in case something untoward happens.

Another great feature is that we can sync our Lightroom catalogue to Pixieset and upload images directly to the cloud from there. There is no need to output all images into a JPEG file first and then upload it to Pixie. Pixieset also helps us get rid of the headache of sending the wedding set individually to friends and family members. One link can be sent to all, and they can pick and choose which images they want to download. It also lets you ‘white label’ the website and add it to your website as a sub-domain. Which means that the link to a client’s picture gallery will seem like it’s on your website.

A screenshot of our Pixieset image gallery.

Marketing videos and Slideshows: Animoto

Sometimes you just need a quick and dirty video slideshow that you quickly need to get done and don’t want to spend hours on. That’s where Animoto comes in. It helps us create video slideshows with incredible ease! You can choose between various templates depending on the kind video you need to create – slideshows, marketing videos etc. There is also a vast media library for choosing the music for your slideshows. You can choose between templates which allow for fonts or not, basis your requirement.

The biggest advantage we think is that you don’t need a video editor to work on the application. Anyone with a fair understanding of the internet can create a slideshow within minutes. The only limitation is that you have very little control over font type, sizes, and a few other formatting options. Still, we think it’s a small price to pay for making effective and quick slideshows. You can be in and out with a smooth
Save-a-Date slideshow for your client within 15 minutes!

A screenshot of different templates Animoto provides.

Album Creation and Designing: SmartAlbums

When it comes to designing albums, the sky’s the limit! There are software like InDesign that give you options and control over every single detail. But like we said, we’re looking at software that save time and increase efficiency while giving us good control over the product. SmartAlbums is a no-hassle, easy-to-create tool with which you can make albums with ease. The application provides a host of layouts to work with. We absolutely LOVE the drag and drop feature! All we need to do is drag the images we want and it’ll import the images into the library. You can also use the drag-and-drop to swap two images. The software can also read the rating systems – labels, stars, and flags – from your Lightroom catalogue. It also gives the option to edit a photo in the album directly in Photoshop or Lightroom. After you’ve made the edit, the updated and edited version of the image is automatically reflected in the album.

Another feature which makes our work completely easy is cloud proofing and online commenting. We no longer need to go back and forth on emails or phone calls with the clients. They can view the album online from anywhere in the world and give their feedback on images directly. We can’t imagine a time when albums were created differently or left at the mercy of the printers. Once you’ve started using it and get the hang of it, you’ll even start having fun with the process, as it gives you quite a lot of control to execute your vision.

A screenshot of one of our albums on SmartAlbums.

Marketing and Newsletter Campaigns: MailChimp

MailChimp has made marketing campaigns and sending out newsletters to our subscribers extremely easy, and dare we say, super fun for us! It has an easy-to-use interface and multiple options for email creation and lists. So we can choose the template of emails or create them from scratch with their easy-to-use template editor. With MailChimp we can also create a segmented list of people – blog subscribers, wedding inquiries etc.

Once you’ve created an email, you can preview it and even send a test email to yourself before sending it out to your list. The service also has an option of creating automated and auto-reply emails that you can schedule. It also gives us the option of tracking analytics – number of subscribers, how many people opened and clicked on the links and other data. So we can keep a track of which campaign, newsletter or marketing strategy is working better than others.

A screenshot of MailChimp dashboard.

Social Media Scheduling: Hootsuite

It’s a fact that as professional wedding photographers we need to be active on social media today. And considering how much work we have on a typical day, it’s an inevitability that we forget to post regularly. Although a direct upload is any day better for reach and engagement, sometimes you just don’t have the time to choose a picture, write a caption, and post. This is where HootSuite comes in. It can integrate all your social media platforms. You can schedule a picture for a specific time, save the caption and hashtags and forget about it! It’s a good idea to schedule a few posts from time to time when you know you’re going to be busy than to miss out. It also helps keep a track of the success of your social media campaigns. You can also use applications like CoSchedule, Buffer and Later for your Instagram marketing.

A screenshot of HootSuite dashboard.

Using these tools is not only a way to improve your photography business but also maintain a good work-life balance. When you’re not stuck in your studio for hours, you not only have time to finish more work but also to give attention to your family and friends. Your personal life is just as important as your professional one.

A lot of the above-mentioned tools have free trials but paid subscriptions. So, take a trial of any of these to figure out if they’re worth spending money on. Or you can use similar applications, paid or free, to keep yourself ahead of the game. As you keep using these, you’ll notice a stark before and after difference in your work and output. Some of the tools we mentioned above may not necessarily be the best ones out there, but they get our work done quite good and fast.

Let us know if we can help you with any doubts or queries about these software programs. We’d love to help you out!

NOTE: This is not a sponsored post. We use all the above-mentioned tools and resources in our studio. All opinions expressed in this post are strictly our own.

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Best Lenses for Portrait Photography

A guide to choosing the best lenses for portrait photography

As wedding photographers, we constantly think about how we can make our images better. Giving our couples the best memories of their wedding makes us super happy. There’s no better motivation for us than a happy bride who loves her wedding day portrait!

While we truly believe that a photographer makes the images, having great, high-end gear doesn’t hurt. There is no scarcity of the number and variety of good quality lenses in the market. And making a decision on which to use is something you should definitely spend a few brain cells on. Technically speaking, you can make fabulous portraits with the most basic gear out there, including your kit lens. But certain lenses help us create more flattering and pleasing portraits.

Do you even need one?

What is a portrait lens? What can it do that your existing gear can’t? Portrait lenses are simply those that produce a more pleasing effect on people photographs, whether it has to do with image compression, depth of field, beautiful bokeh etc. We reiterate that you can easily take people portraits with any lens you have – the best lenses in the world can’t help you if your creativity, vision and commitment are limited. But if you’ve exhausted the capabilities of your existing gear and have the extra cash, lenses are definitely a fabulous long term investment in your business. Personally, we love our portrait lenses and can’t imagine a time before we had them.

We’ve put together some things for you to think about before investing in new portrait lenses and also some of our favourites.

Things to consider while choosing a portrait lens

We often get asked about which lenses we think are the best for portraits. The answer is a bit precarious because it’s a subjective one for every photographer. Even us! What works for us may not work for you and vice-versa. For most professional photographers, choosing gear is a decision based on what kind of images they want to make. So, it’s not a question of right or wrong but what suits your needs and best reproduces your vision. You can make good pictures in almost any kind of lens that you pick up, provided that you know your basics, can handle manual mode and are willing to get creative. Having said that, a good lens will certainly enhance your skills. So let’s talk about a few factors you need to consider to arrive at a decision.

Prime vs Zoom lens

These are the two major classifications of lenses. A zoom lens is very versatile because it covers a variety of focal lengths. You don’t need to switch lenses as often and gives you the freedom to take close-ups and environmental portraits using the same lens. In fact, you can easily cover an entire wedding in one good zoom lens, like a 24-70 or a 24-120 for example. With a prime lens, however, you will need to move around a lot because of it’s fixed focal length. But they give you a much superior picture quality with regards to clarity, sharpness, depth of field and bokeh. And they’re lighter (read easier to carry around) than a lot of zoom lenses!

Focal Length and Aperture Control

The longer the focal length, the more image compression and depth perception, which makes portraits much more pleasing. But that also means that you need to shoot from further away, read not suitable in small cramped environments. A wider lens, on the other hand, allows you to shoot in these smaller rooms but will give more distortion to your images/portraits. Wider primes are fabulous for environmental portraits though – so keep them on your wish-list too!

A prime lens will typically have a larger maximum aperture and therefore, a shallow depth of field. Which means your subject will appear more isolated and distinctive from the background and also get you that beautiful bokeh.

Number of people and available space

Who and where will you be shooting? Will it be the bride or the groom (i.e. single person), the couple or will you be focussing more on family and group portraits? Will you be shooting in a small room, medium sized but crowded hall or a larger, open outdoor space?

Suppose you’re in a bridal room; then you know you don’t have much space to move around. In this scenario, a prime lens with a shorter focal length (35mm-50mm) will work the best. With more space, you will have more flexibility to choose a lens.

Hopefully, these points will have helped you in making a choice. If you’re still confused, we’re listing out some of the lenses we love for taking portraits. This is not an ultimate list, just some of the lenses that have helped us make awesome portraits of our couples and their families. In case you are unable to make a decision, we’re sure these will not disappoint you. Go on, have a read!

AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G

This is a favourite and is our go-to portrait lens because of its quality of being closest to the human eye. The 50mm works well when you don’t have a lot of space to work in. It’s pleasing for almost all body types and works well for half body shots (i.e. head, shoulders and torso). It’s also lighter compared to other lenses. In addition to portraits, this lens works great in other wedding scenarios as well, like the phera ceremony, haldi & mehendi rituals, dance floor etc. If you’re looking for a good balance between quality, versatility and price, this lens is a great option.

Love this bridal portrait of Vidya with the 50mm. Just look at that depth of field and subject isolation.

 

This is why we love the 50mm! You can create almost all kinds of images with it. Just step back and you can get more of the action.

AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G

This lens gives you the classic head and shoulder portrait. Its frame has a tight fit and renders facial features nicely. You also get a lovely, round and natural bokeh. Which means the subject stands out quite well from the softly blurred background. With an open aperture of 1.4, this lens lets in more light than anything else we’ve probably seen. There is an effective reduction of ghost and flares as well. This lens loves being shot wide open – the brilliant auto-focus ensures we’re locked on to our target for as long as our heart desires.

A tight head & shoulders portrait with the 85mm from a slight elevation. Notice the frame compression.

 

Another version with some action to demonstrate that the 85mm works for more than just portraits, but ideally when there’s some movement space

AF-S Nikkor 105mm f/1.4E

We won’t lie. The 105mm is an indulgence and one that we love having in our kit! This lens is brilliantly sharp with an incredibly shallow depth of field. But, like the 85, its frame is quite tight and doesn’t lend itself to much more than portraits. So it isn’t one that we use all the time at a wedding. It’s quite on the heavier side as well. But what we really love about this lens is that it makes highly superior images with bokeh even better than the 85. It’s also quite good for frames where the background is cluttered. So you can create a soft and creamy background blur with it.

We were able to make this portrait because we had ample space to move away from our subject. The 105mm creates a soft, lovely bokeh in this portrait shot.

 

Again, the bokeh is really great with the 105mm! The shot was taken through the gap in a row of fairy-light covered trees with the bride posed amidst the branches of the farthest one!

AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G

The 35 mm is a great choice for environmental portraits. It also works well for full body shots or portraits where outfits need more focus. You can get some great group portraits as well, e.g. family, bridesmaids, groomsmen etc. This lens is what we would call a ‘workhorse’. The best part about this is that you can shoot the entire wedding with this, if need be, and get great pictures – from haldi, to baraat, pheras or vidaai. You name it. If you’re starting out and need to decide on your first portrait/prime lens, keep this on your priority.

A couple portrait of Vidya & Ankur on a fishing boat in the backwaters taken with a 35mm (a 24mm works beautifully here too), allowing us to include more of the background/environment.

 

The 35mm is really flexible in terms of the kind of images it can make. You can shoot almost everything with this lens. 

We know that the options available in the market can make it difficult to make a decision. But for every photographer, the choice is a personal one. If you don’t want to invest in buying a lens yet because you’re not sure, why not rent them? You can get a few different ones for rent, shoot with them for a few days or weeks and then decide which one you like best. Hands-on experience with a lens will make your decision much easier.

Did we miss out on any questions you might have about lenses? Ask away! Need our help with making a decision? We’re here for you!

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Photo Editing Workflow: Some Tips & Tricks

Things to keep in mind while finding the perfect photo editing workflow for yourself

Remember when we talked about the importance of Photo Editing Workflow? We truly believe that it is key to efficiency and a consistency in quality. Although there is no one template for a good workflow, we’re sure that every successful professional photographer has one. There is no right and wrong to a workflow and it can continue to evolve over time. What is important, if you are a photographer, is to have one in any shape or form that works for you. Not having a workflow at all can be quite a deterrent to your growth and consistency as a professional wedding photographer.

A solid workflow system makes sure that the task is completed well, using the fewest steps possible. It is flexible enough that you can go back and make changes without compromising on image quality. A competent system additionally safeguards your data as well as delivers a good product – great photos – at the end.

In this post, we will talk about the system we follow in the studio and how a workflow progresses in general. If you don’t already have a structure, feel free to take this post as a starting point.

#1 While Shooting

Having enough memory cards is paramount when preparing for an assignment. It’s a good idea to carry enough so that you don’t run out of space in the middle of a shoot. As a rule, we never overwrite any cards during a wedding at all. Over the years of shooting weddings, we’ve figured out how many cards we need for a 3-day wedding assignment shot by 2-3 photographers and always carry enough memory cards and more. A few extra cards can do no harm.

A wedding assignment consists of a gamut of candid/documentary and posed photos. Therefore, often, we have to set up the composition, lighting wait for that right moment or expression. Now feel free to click more pictures to get the right one but be judicious about it. We don’t suggest shooting in burst mode the entire wedding. It’ll only serve to create double the amount of photos and more headache for you later.

You should also make sure that all the cameras being used by your team are time-synced. Often, we’ve saved precious time looking for a different angle of the same event, because we knew the time of day it happened and that two photographers in the team were bound to have different POV to the event.

Shooting in RAW is another important factor. Although it makes the files rather heavy and you may need a larger number of memory cards to accommodate shots from a single wedding, in our opinion, it’s worth it. The flexibility it gives you at the editing stage and the ability to rescue otherwise unusable images is incredible.

#2 Import

The next step is importing images from the memory cards into storage devices. Be careful and organised while copying images to minimise data loss. The only keyword to this step: Backup! Backup! Backup! We cannot stress enough about the importance of having a backup for your images!

Our mantra for this step of the workflow is ‘3,2,1’. We keep 3 copies of all the data transferred onto 2 different mediums (hard-disk, cloud or LTO tapes) and 1 copy is kept at a different physical location than the other two (2 at the studio, 1 at home). If there is a natural or accidental disaster (fire, flooding etc) at one location, the other backup will be safe.

It also helps to have an index of all the data that you own. You can follow a manual method and log in the information into a spreadsheet every time you copy – which photos go into which card or hard drive, how many photos, etc. Or use a software like the Disk Catalog Maker to take screenshots of various disks for you.

#3 Organise and cull

After the photos are copied and backed up, the next step is to cull, sort and organise. The idea is to very quickly and efficiently reduce the population of your images to identify the ones you like and those you aren’t impressed with. At the same time, you want to organise them into buckets (basis various functions, days or even simply identify the priority level for edit and delivery) so you can be equally efficient in the editing and development stage.

You can use various software to categorise your images. The most popular ones today are Photo Mechanic and Adobe Lightroom. We recommend re-naming the files during import, using details like the couple’s name, the date and location of the wedding, etc, to make the file names unique and easier to identify over time. If you stick with automatic camera generated file names, there’s a chance that there will be a duplication of names after a point. Also, make sure you choose the option to keep all metadata intact in the image. This will help you in identifying which camera shot the image, which team member captured it, time of day, etc.

Unlike the old days, you don’t need to separate photos from different events to various folders while editing. Almost any software you choose to use today has options for making virtual copies, folders and collections. It is also a good practice to always work on the virtual copy of the image. This keeps your edit process non-destructive and allows you to revert to the original at any point, should you need to. Give them colour labels, ratings, flags and use other ranking methods to identify the ones you want to prioritise.

Therefore, this step helps you stay ahead of the game in two ways. One, it reduces the number of photos. Second, the labels will help you find specific photos in no amount of time! There is no need to be lost in folder canyon. You can easily sift out 20 highlight images from a wedding based on the ranking you gave them.

In companies where multiple people work on the same images, this step will help avoid any mismanagement of data. If everyone follows the workflow, one person can cull the data and label them with labels/flags/ratings. The second person can do a basic edit of medium priority photos. And a third person can find the high ranking images for a more detailed edit, re-touching or other special effects.

#4 Develop

This is the part of digital photography where post-processing or editing happens. After the previous step, you already know which photos you need to start working on. You’ve already identified which photos require special attention for highlights and portfolios. If you’ve made sure to shoot judiciously, composed & lit your shots well to get good in-camera results, then the development step will obviously be easier and quicker. But if you haven’t, then we hope you remembered to shoot in RAW so you can do maximum damage control!

As you all know, development of RAW images requires some basic steps like adjusting exposure, white balance, colour temperature, contrast, vibrance, saturation, sharpening and reducing noise if any. If you were to follow these individual steps for every single photograph, it could take weeks to complete one wedding set. And do you honestly have that kind of time?

You can easily increase your speed and efficiency by using development presets! Purchase them online or create your own presets basis your style of shooting, the colour palette you like and the kind of photos you’ll edit. If you’re creating your own, like we have, then name them in a  logical fashion, for example, ‘outdoor harsh light’ or ‘nighttime dance floor’. After you’ve used a basic preset for all pictures of a similar kind, you can always fine-tune each image as required. A preset for all similar images reduces the steps and speeds up the process, leaving you with enough time to give extra attention and special effects to your 5-star photos!

#5 Output

Now it’s time to think about using those photos. You need to output them for client delivery, creating archival prints, photo books or for sharing online. Most websites and social sharing platforms have different requirements in terms of size and resolution. Take time and research to find out what size and resolution works for different media. For printing reproductions, try a few different sizes and colour spaces to know which creates the best product. You can speed up the process and maintain consistency by creating and using presets for export as well. 

Keep in mind that you should never resize images during import. Always edit them in their original size and resize only during the output process. Furthermore, always work on virtual copies of the master image. Never, and we mean never resize the master file. Since one image will need to be resized for various mediums, it is best to keep the original size intact. You can change them at the output stage according to the requirement.

Like we said in the beginning, having a workflow is very important. Having a good workflow is even better. In the absence of a workflow, you can face hassle at so many levels – losing photos, difficulty in locating them, duplication of data, destructive editing of original files etc and these are definitely not good for your business.

You probably have some sort of a system already in place. Now you just have to identify areas which cause you more time and work out a structure for it. Of course, a perfect system doesn’t magically happen overnight. We’ve spent years devising a system, which we’re sure we can also improve on. So, start today. Write it down or make a flowchart if it helps you. Whatever you do, put a system in place at the earliest, if you haven’t already!

Did this post help you get started on a system? Tell us in the comments. Got any questions about the process? We’d love to answer!

 

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Photo Editing Workflow: Why do you need one?


A brief look at why a photo editing workflow is important for wedding photographers

All professional wedding photographers will agree that taking a picture is actually a very small part of the process of creating images. There is an entire series of processes that occur from when you press that shutter-release to the delivery of photos to the client. It’s easy to imagine that once you click a picture your work is done. In fact, the majority of a photographer’s work begins from there. Capturing an image is only the first step to a long and meticulous process. The huge amount of data that you gather has to be sorted and categorised before you even begin to think of editing. Sure, you can dump all the pictures in one place and randomly start working on any one and make your way from there. But if you’re a serious photographer intent on improving your work process and ensuring client satisfaction, adopting a workflow is very important.

Why do you need a workflow?

As imposing as it sounds, a workflow is nothing but a sequence of actions or processes that are followed from the start to finish of a project. As wedding photographers in the digital age, a workflow is more important than ever. The emphasis is on digital files rather than prints and also the amount of data collected in digital cameras FAR outweighs that from the film age.

For all these reasons, it’s easy to mix up data (at the very least) and lose/misplace /overwrite data (at the worst). If you don’t spend some time to organise yourself and set a process in place, you could easily reduce your efficiency and output. So much so, that you could regularly jeopardise the timely delivery of the wedding photos to your client. Having a clear workflow will help avoid all these issues and also ensure consistency in your images.

#1 Massive amounts of data

When you come back from a wedding, there are numerous cameras, memory cards and hard disks with thousands of pictures from different events. Considering that most Indian Weddings are an average 3-day affair with multiple events per day and you probably have 2-3 team-members shooting each event, you could end up with 10,000-30,000 images in total from one wedding. With such a vast amount of data, the chances of losing it are that much higher.

#2 Easy culling

While the main objective here is to bring down the number of images to be edited and, therefore, delivered, you can’t ignore that there is a need for speed and efficiency. You definitely don’t want to be stuck staring at a stash of 10,000-30,000 images for days and weeks on end. Trust us, we have made these mistakes when we first started out. The idea is to go through the entire stash as quickly as possible to find a good set of pictures ready for editing – not losing out on gems in the process (because in our experience, once images are rejected in Round 1, we only go back to them if we feel that a particular event or person is missing or not represented enough in the final set).

Point being, you cannot compromise the quality of your selection or culling, in the interest of saving time. But the fact of the matter is, without a clear process, the chances of this step getting botched up or just simply being too slow compared to the delivery timeline is incredibly high. There are various software that can be used and best practices of selection, rejection, labelling, sorting etc that can come in very handy to streamline this part of the process. (More on this coming soon).

#3 Avoiding duplication and overwriting

Like we said, with such massive amounts of data, the chances of mishaps are more. In our own early days, we’ve made a mistake or two with data management, accidentally formatting a card and, even worse, over-writing the formatted card. If you’ve ever been there, you know how heartbreaking it can be.

Also, many of us have teams or crew members, whether as photographers or as editors. Some of us even outsource the editing. When multiple people working on the same wedding set and catalogues/files get copied more than once, the chances of duplication or working on the wrong catalogue are quite high. But a simple & clear system for this will ensure that even when multiple team members work not the same files, it will always be in the correct and updated version.

Taking great pictures is just not good enough. If you want to be considered a professional, you can’t afford to be carefree about data and editing. It is important to be organised in order to avoid losing, duplicating or overwriting your data. Accidents and mishaps can always happen but it is up to you to put systems in place to ensure redundancy and minimise damage.

#4 Efficient editing process

Selecting, rejecting, labelling, sorting, storing and archiving photos is a long and arduous but highly necessary process that all photographers can’t help but live with. Without a distinct process, you could find yourself and your images all over the place.  You could remember taking an incredible picture at a particular point at the wedding but you can’t find it because your labelling and organising process is not efficient. You have one POV of a very special moment and are sure that one of your team members took an equally great photo from a different POV – you want to put the two together, but you just can’t seem to locate that photo. Disappointing, right? Which is why having a streamlined workflow process if necessary to avoid these kinds of hassles. (More on this coming soon.)

Now that you’ve culled, selected & organised the photos, don’t rest easy! There are still a huge number of photos to edit and work through. If you were to give each photo the kind of attention one gives to ad campaign shoots, you could spend a year editing one wedding! But that’s not really practical, is it? As a professional wedding photographer, you don’t have the luxury of that kind of time. There are probably five other wedding sets you need to edit and deliver simultaneously. Having a workflow ensures that maximum work is done with minimum effort taken, without compromising on the quality and consistency of the end product.

#5 Timely delivery of images

We’ve said this a lot, our sole job is to create eternal memories for the couple and their families. After their wedding is over, it is normal for the family to be eager to see the images. If you aren’t efficient, you won’t be able to deliver on time. It won’t matter that your photos are incredible. If you have been inexcusably late in your delivery timeline, it will take the pleasure out of the best possible photos – your client’s excitement will be greatly diminished. You need to create a positive client experience by delivering the wedding photos on the date you promised. Staying true to your word will only add to your reputation as a professional, and this is only possible with a good workflow.

Workflow differs from photographer to photographer, but we’re sure that every successful professional has one. Even for seasoned wedding photographers with established, tried-and-tested workflows, making a few necessary tweaks here and there over the years to stay abreast of new systems and technologies is very important.

How you manage the process and workflow is not as important as having one in the first place – there isn’t one good or correct way of doing things. Everybody needs to find what works best for them. If you’re just starting out as a wedding photographer, then stay tuned for our next post where we talk in detail about the workflow process we follow in our studio – these should help you get started, after which you need to develop what works best for you.

Have any thoughts on data management and photo editing workflow? Leave us a comment below to let us know.

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Photo Printing in the Digital Age – Why it Still Matters

Despite the slow death of the art of photo printing, here’s why it is important for us as wedding photographers to start printing again

Of late, we’ve come to realise that most wedding photographers of our generation have learnt their craft on the job. Majority of them – us included – didn’t go to photography school or learn photography from a formal source. We were born millennials and saw the advent of the digital age as we moved into adulthood. We followed the non-traditional path of photography, which means that most of us made a mid-career switch to photography and, in the process, didn’t learn to print photos in a darkroom or experiment with rolls of film. Yes, we were the last generation to be a part of the film and reel era, but mostly shot digitally as professionals. So, with the development of digital cameras, printing of photographs as a practice is dying.

Today, photographs predominantly exist digitally as files on a smartphone or a computer. The printing part of photography has become limited to digital post-processing and editing. However, we are of the strong opinion that if you are a wedding photographer or any kind of photographer, you should definitely print your own photos. Here’s why.

Prints make for eternal memories

We’ve actually thought about this a lot. Memories are surprisingly fickle. They fragment, fade or even mould themselves to whatever sensory evidence we can find for them – anecdotes of our childhood from parents and relatives, old photo albums. We’re sure you’ve noticed that two people with a shared experience would remember it differently, depending on how the incidents are recounted over time. We might not even have any remembrance of certain events, but seeing pictures creates a makeshift memory in our minds. You may, for example, remember your very first bicycle to be fire engine red in colour. While a picture of the same will tell you that it was actually sunshine yellow!

As wedding photographers, our sole job is to create timeless memories for our clients. Our work freezes moments in time so that a couple and their families can relive the moments years after their wedding. Albums and photo prints are literally the backbone of the memories we create for them. If you give your client fine art prints of photos from their wedding, the memories will forever remain in their minds and in front of their eyes. Digital copies have a way of getting lost amidst the multi-terabytes of data on their systems but a photograph hung on the wall will always remind them of their special day.

Sense of accomplishment

Printing out your work is immensely satisfying. We know this from personal experience. Once we deliver the digital photo files to clients, we archive the files and often forget about them for long periods of time. We hardly ever make time to or even have the inclination to go through older work. Having large fine-art print(s) of the wedding photos you’ve created in front of your eyes will always bring in a sense of accomplishment and joy. The prints are a tangible product, physical proof of your hard work. And once you see that big photograph on your wall, we are sure it will inspire you to go out and create many more incredible images every day!

Improves your credibility as a wedding photographer

As a photographer, your knowledge about printing technology and correct colour calibration can only enhance your credibility as an experienced professional in the field. Moreover, it’s important to show your clients the end result which is as per your original vision of the events and photographs. As an artist,  you’re the only one who knows how you visualised each photo or moment while taking the shot. You know what the finished product should look like in terms of colours, depth, size etc. And you can ensure that final look and finish by working on your high-tech, colour calibrated editing machines and screens. But the impact of so much hard work can be completely lost on a client when they view it on various digital mediums like their (uncalibrated) laptops, tablets, mobile phones and whatnot. They are literally viewing a distorted version of your vision.

But you can control that aspect and ensure client delight by showing them the photos the way you envisioned them – by providing fine art prints of your favourites from the set. Not to forget, it increases your product offerings from a business point of view as well. Of course, you can use other third-party professional photo printing services or get the client to print the photographs themselves. But by printing out the photos yourself, you will have full control over how the final products look.

Makes you a better photographer

The advancements in digital camera technology are no doubt an excellent advantage to us as photographers. However, printing out a photograph is significant because it can bring into perspective those details that our eyes would possibly not see on a screen. Also, when you have online galleries full of thousand pictures, you tend to not be critical of your own work. Social media also spurs on the sense of accomplishment and pride. But printing out a set of the best 10 pictures from a wedding, for example, will force you to be brutal in critiquing your own work, and creating real shortlists and portfolio-worthy shots.

Technology distracts

While viewing an album or gallery of photos online, there are numerous distractions on a phone or a laptop. And one (or all) of them is taking your client’s concentration away from your photos. Seeing a photograph is an immersive experience. When you see a photo, you take it in all its elements, look for a story or a message, appreciate the technique, colours, and the effort behind it and only then, you move on. Seeing it on a digital screen can never give you this opportunity. Your client can only have the best experience of taking every aspect of that photo in, in a print.

Print won’t go obsolete, technology might

How many of us remember seeing a roll film or a VCR? The technology is obviously out-dated now, but many of us never even saw it. We don’t use floppy disks or even CDs to store files anymore. And who knows how long pen drives and hard-disks will be the standard storing devices. But a print has a much longer shelf life. Files and their formats might get outdated, but your clients will always have the print(s) as a memento.

We, at Twogether Studios, are great fans of fine art photo prints. But let’s get real. Learning how to print wasn’t as simple as plugging in a laserjet printer (like we did in our corporate jobs). Fine art photography prints involved learning a lot about colour profiles, print media and substrates, colour optimization, and so on. But learning this was certainly FUN and added a whole new dimension to our professional standing as wedding photographers. We truly encourage you to try it for yourselves. We know the results will be fabulous.

Okay, I’m sold. Give me the low-down for printing my own fine art photos.

Fine Art Photo Printing vs Lab Prints: What’s the Difference?

For years we’ve used our neighbourhood photography lab for our prints – and we were perfectly happy with the results. Sometimes it looked great, and at others… not so much. Their options were limited to glossy paper and matte paper (we used matte, naturally), which were more often than not made by Fuji.

And then we discovered professional fine-art printing – and our world changed! Broadly speaking, the main differences between traditional lab prints and fine art prints lie in two parts – the printing process and the media options.

Labs usually use an inkjet process with four to six ink heads, the results of which are usually not colour accurate. Fine art prints use a dry pigment based process that utilises may more ink heads that are capable of printing at a staggering 2400 dpi – which makes the final product clearer and sharper. The Epson 7900 and P5000 that we use have 11 different inks. When used together it can produce a very large tonal range that most lab prints can’t even think of.

The second difference, which is even more mindblowing in our opinion, is the variety of paper available. We use two types of paper – archival (for client deliveries and other blow-ups) and non-archival for proofs. An archival paper is acid-free fine art paper – the acid content in paper usually turns a regular paper yellow, and it cracks over time. But an acid-free fine-art paper lasts for years without getting damaged. A fine-art paper also enhances the quality of the image. It brings out richer colours and makes an image look alive.

Got it. What do I need to get started?

Well, it’s really simple actually. All you need is access to a printer and the medium of your choice.

If you don’t own a printer or haven’t tried fine-art photo printing, the first course of action is to get your hands dirty with a professional fine-art printing service. Experiment with a couple different set of mediums and printers to figure out what works the best for your style of photography. There is a huge range of paper samples available in the market, so get a few prints to decide which one suits you best.

We have used Epson’s Stylus Pro 7900 printer for the past two years and recently got an Epson SureColor P5000 printer. Epson’s P5000 17-inch 10-Color Inkjet Printer is designed for professional photographers and it is said that the extreme colour gamut makes it possible to hit colours accurately and consistently, achieving PANTONE coverage of 99%*.

Generally speaking, a print made from the traditional lab-used silver halide technology deteriorates at quite a fast pace in exposure to light – and in our Indian weather conditions, this could mean very short lifespans of just a few years. The pigment ink technology in the Epson printers however usually boasts of a print longevity of 200 years for colour prints and 400 years for black-and-white prints. Realistically though, these are under laboratory or “ideal” conditions – but if you keep the prints away from moisture and in the shade, you can realistically have it last for a very long time indeed. And of course, telling our clients that their prints will last 400 years makes it seem really awesome!

As far as the printing medium goes, there is an incredible variety of high-quality fine-art papers available for Epson printers, both Indian and imported brands; we use Epson Enhance Matte (our standard go-to for most prints), Epson Premium Lustre 260, imported archival and canvas paper in our studio and our experience has been exceptional.

We’ve been using the P5000 to print quite regularly on different papers and the prints were every bit as stunning as we expected them to be. We started a project to make a special art installation for the office (using the P5000) – and we’ll post about it soon!

After you’ve played around with different kinds of printers and mediums, we highly recommend getting your own printer. We promise that you won’t regret it after you see the pronounced difference in how your images look and how well they will be received by your clients. Being able to provide your clients with high-quality fine art prints in-house will elevate your offerings to a whole different level.

Do share with us your experiences of fine-art photo printing. Any questions? We’d love to answer!

P.S.: Read a more in-depth review and the second part of printing for Indian Wedding Photographers using the P5000 here. (And see the art installation we made using the P5000!)


Disclaimer: This post has been written in association with Epson India but the opinions are strictly our own. We have owned an Epson Stylus Pro 7900 and printed on it for the past 2 years. We also recently got a SureColor P5000 printer from Epson to play with, and the results are fantastic!

*PANTONE® is the property of Pantone LLC. 99% coverage of PANTONE FORMULA GUIDE solid coated palette based on Epson Proofing Paper White Semi-matte printed with Epson printer driver at 2880x1440dpi. PANTONE coverage may vary when printed with a third-party RIP.

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Photographing Shy Couples: 5 Tips To Get The Very Best Out of The Session

Here are a few tips & tricks on how to get those dreamy and intimate shots even with shy couples as your subject.

As experienced wedding photographers, we can bet our bottom dollar that you have come across at least one couple during your career that wanted to go the other way when faced with a camera. Don’t worry, we’ve faced it too. And this is completely natural considering most people are not trained models (can you imagine if they were?!). They are ordinary people who just want themselves and their wedding captured beautifully. More often than not, they would not have been a part of a professional photo shoot or had formal portraits taken by a professional photographer. Photogenic or not, it is unfair to expect them to pose on command like professional models.

Facing a camera is usually an out-of-comfort-zone for most people. They feel conscious, causing them to be awkward, shy or, just freeze. And sometimes, as a photographer, you might want to tear your hair out in a similar situation. Nevertheless, as candid wedding photographers, it is our job to get our client comfortable and make them look natural in their pictures. We should want to capture the emotion and mood of the moment so as to evoke memories of the wedding even years from now.

So don’t tear your hair out, just yet! We’ve got a few simple things we practice ourselves that are sure to help you get the best out of camera shy couples.

#1: Start early & Reeeeeeally get to know your couple

Establishing a relationship with your couple begins as soon as you start talking to them for the very first time, even before they book you. It’s important to make an effort to get to know them before the wedding – as people and not just as clients. Talk to your couple as much and as often as possible to get a sense of what kind of people they are, their backstories, their likes & dislikes as well as what they want out of their wedding photography experience. During the wedding, you will be the person they see most. More than they will see their family, friends or fiancé. You’ve got to be their BFF! You know you’ve got your “in” to intimate moments and behind-the-scenes action when your couple is comfortable enough to joke around or share their feelings with you.

#2: Make them feel “involved” in the ideation & creative process

Getting to know them is the first step towards being able to put together a shoot plan, not just from a logistical point-of-view but from a creative one. Knowing their backstories, likes & dislikes will allow you to customise and tailor shoot ideas to suit them and what they are or are not comfortable with. Rope them into the ideation process and get a sense of what their vision and expectations are.

If a couple is shy about PDA, it would be a good idea to plan a shoot out of the public eye and in a setting which is familiar to them. For example, if a couple met in their college where they spent the majority of their courtship period, take them there for their pre-wedding. Or if they have spent a lot of time on outdoorsy activities together, plan your shoot around that kind of theme. Being in a familiar setting would immediately set them at ease. They will forget all about you and their nostalgia will give you your perfect candid shots without having to work too hard for it!

#3: Keep the conversation going

We literally mean that you put on your extrovert, chatterbox face for the shoot. Keep a constant flow of conversation going. The actual wedding is the easy part. The couple will be involved in so many events and rituals that they won’t have to think about the camera pointed at them. So the real challenge occurs during the pre-wedding shoot or a couple portrait session during the wedding. That’s a whole different beast. There is nothing for them to focus on except the camera pointed at them and it’s your job to keep things from getting awkward.

Give them gentle directions and try to avoid a commanding tone. Make constant conversation to take their mind off that camera. Talk about their upcoming wedding, their outfits, honeymoon plans, their favourite TV show or sports – whatever you think will rock their boat. Divert their attention from the camera and onto themselves. Them forgetting about you and being who they naturally are is the best thing that could happen!

#4: Be their biggest fan

If the couple is particularly conscious about how they will look in photos, we’ve got a simple trick for you. Towards the beginning of the photoshoot, take a few test shots of them talking to each other, walking hand in hand or just laughing at your (lame) jokes. Forget about the composition, the frame, exposure and all of that and just focus on getting a few “pretty” pictures of the couple. Show them a few on the camera and appreciate how great they look to boost their confidence.

Once they see that the photos are turning out well, they’ll be more likely to relax and open up. Your encouragement and compliments will give them the confidence to try something new – allowing you to experiment with the technical and compositional aspects. And who knows, you may even end up with some award winning shots!

#5: Give them a few moments alone (or at least let them think so!)

Sometime during the photo shoot, set your grand frame, place your couple, and give them general directions about how to angle themselves or where to stand/face. After everything is set, tell them that it’s going to take a couple of minutes for you to set your camera and subtly nudge the conversation to something private between the couple. For example, ask the groom-to-be to tell his fiancé if he has planned any surprise for their wedding night or honeymoon. And while they’re busy talking among themselves, voila! You have your intimate shot!

We understand that each couple is different and may require a different approach, but these are a few of our tried and tested tips and tricks to help you get cracking! As you go along, you can always build on these to find what will best suit your clients or situation. The bottom line is, you have to work hard to make your couples comfortable and get them to trust you.

Do you have any other tips and tricks to work with shy couples? Do let us know in the comments!