What to Do With 24 Gigs of RAW Images
Newborn by Joshua Rappeneker

RAW Images

Photo Editing raw imageOk, I have to come completely clean here, I know next to nothing about Photoshop.  What I have been able to do in Photoshop I just watched a Youtube video about, performed the task, and quickly forgot how to do it again. I am a “need to know” photoshopper, and it has worked for me so far. Let’s face it; computers sometimes make my skin crawl. As much as I love the actual shooting of the event, I rarely look forward to the post processing. Can any of you relate? I wanted to write something about how I spend my time after doing the wedding photography, not that I am an expert by any stretch of the imagination, I am constantly looking for tricks that will keep me out of post as much as possible, but here is my start to finish process after I drag my tired body home from a day of shooting.

Upload and Back-Up

I have a photo folder on my desktop and within that I create a new folder for the shoot, (i.e.: “Yvonna’s wedding”).  I put all the raw images for the wedding there. Sometimes, if I am feeling super organized, I create separate folders for the sections if the day (i.e.: getting ready, ceremony, etc) but that isn’t always the case. Then I copy the folder onto an external hard drive, in case, heaven forbid, my laptop quits working and I have to stomp it into a million pieces.

Cull Images

I use Adobe Lightroom and I cannot say enough how much I love this program. I love it so much that if it were a human being I would adopt it, and it would be my favorite child. I import the images into Lightroom, and it shows me a preview of every image, lets say for the sake of this article that there are 1300 images (gasp, choke, grumble moan) all from one day of wedding photography that I need to look at. I quickly glance at each one, check for sharpness, make sure everyone has their eyes open, flag the image and move to the next one. I do that for every image, and then Lightroom allows me to view only the images I have flagged, which is nice, because now I have narrow/edit down to my favorite 4-500 photos and that is a number I can feasibly work with.

Edit Images

I recently purchased at the WPPI trade show a set of presets by Kubota which are really speeding up my work flow, I highly recommend them to anyone that prefers to spend time doing things like eating/sleeping versus editing images. You can find them at www.kubotaimagetools.com and I promise you, they will be worth your money. There are enough presets there to allow you to add all kinds of pretty effects to your images without ever stepping foot into Photoshop, and there are presets that will add just enough oomph to a photo that was great to begin with, without it looking over processed. Before I purchased the presets though, I would ordinarily adjust the contrast a little, add a little black clipping, and maybe mess with the clarity of the image a little bit, then move to the next one. Like I said, I don’t like to spend a lot of time in post process. If the picture needs a lot more work then that, I just throw it out and move on to the next one.  Since I shot with a digital camera and I have a second shooter with me, chances are great that I have another similar shot that does not need as much adjustment. Also, as I am processing each image, I categorize it using a color label system within Lightroom, that way I can export them all into their own individual folders.


Photo Edit raw img Like I just mentioned, I like to export jpeg images into their individual folders so that I can easily rename them. I then burn cds, upload them into galleries on my Smugmug site and I am done. So there it is, my start to finish process. It is really hard to say exactly how long each wedding takes, since I have kids, and I get easily distracted by shiny things such as Facebook and leftover cake from the party the night before.


  1. Oh dear! I wish you lived in my town so I can come intern and learn from you. What kind of lens would you recommend for my intended Canon EOS Rebel T2i? I’m just starting to learn about professional photography.

  2. I am slowly but surely getting comfortable with the volumes of info I need to learn in order to go public.
    Your course is a masterpiece of depth and simplicity. Bravo. I want to master this process, which I have been overwhelmed by all my life. Practice, read, practice, read, ad nauseum, ad infinitum, et al. (And despite the Latin terms, “it’s still Greek to me”).


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