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Before you get too excited… you have to know one thing about our culling, blogging, post-processing workflow…. I like to keep it FAST. I’m done with my wedding from the weekend by Tuesday evening and then I get to run the rest of my business until Friday night when we start prepping for another wedding. This is how we grow, this is how we get stuff down and this is just what works for ME. I always give that same disclaimer!

Some photographers are not going to like my systems and that’s 100% ok! BUT! Whenever I find something that works BETTER than the previous system I was using, I’m going to share it!! I share these things because it may help someone speed up their workflow and that’s ALWAYS a good thing!

So, I don’t edit my full wedding galleries but I do edit for the blog and I CULL my weddings almost immediately after I shoot them.  This process can take anywhere from an hour to two hours. Normally I cull through the wedding once and then I normally have to sort it into categories to realize which folders have too many duplicates or similar photos and then I do a quick 2nd cull.  Well, that 2nd quick cull to get my numbers lower always takes a bug chunk of time and I have been having this thought lately: “Why can’t I cull well to begin with?!”. Well, I think I have found the answer to this question!

Here are three reasons why we don’t initially cull our images down well:

  • It’s a huge task and we get tired of the process. Once we get tired of the process, we stop really paying attention to what we’re sorting through and we end up selecting images that do not need to be in the final gallery (duplicates and out of focus shots)
  • We keep too many images that are just DECENT and not INCREDIBLE! When you’re scrolling through the wedding, you’re trying to get it done and you’re also excited to save the BEST images. However, sometimes instead of keeping the “best” images, we end up saving duplicates.
  • We’re starting at the WRONG END! Most photographers cull their weddings starting from the very beginning of the day and that’s great… however, this means that you’re not normally seeing the BEST shots first and you normally end up saving way too many images from one location! I think there may be another way that will make us more efficient!

So, now that we know we have an issue and we shouldn’t be spending HOURS going through our images after the wedding, let’s get culling down to about an hour! I want to share with you my most recent CULLING BREAKTHROUGH! :

Cull backwards!

That’s right! That’s all it takes! I cull using PhotoMechanic  because it renders full RAW files as fast as you can click through them AND I’m not taking unnecessary images into Lightroom which saves your computer’s lifespan! You may laugh and think I’m crazy but I’m telling you, this has dramatically enhanced my culling efficiency! So why does culling a wedding backwards help the culling process?! :

  1. You’re starting with the HARDEST part! The reception! Normally, if you start culling from the beginning of the day to the end, you just start to dread the reception. It’s that part of the wedding that isn’t EXCITING to sort through and by the time you’re ready to cull the reception, you’re tired!  So my philosophy is, if you START with the worst part, you cull more efficiently and you won’t lose momentum as quickly!
  2. I shoot progressively better, especially during portraits! I don’t know about you but when I set up the bride and groom for their portraits, I don’t snap one shot and then call it a day. I shoot like a mad woman! Horizontal, Vertical, tight, wide, laughing, more editorial, movement… there are just SO many ways to pose and compose! (Learn more about that HERE!)  Once I have my couple together and I’ve shot a few images, the ideas start flowing and I start to see my preferred composition! This means that the BEST images are closer to the END of that section of images instead of the beginning. This also means that when I CULL BACKWARDS, I’m clicking through the BEST images first, saving them and not wasting my time with the images that I first shot in that one location!
  3. You’re motivated to get to the pretty stuff! When you start with the reception, it’s almost like getting to the “first look and B&G portraits” section is a reward! You’re going to WANT to get to that section!!

So, you may think this is crazy but don’t knock it until your try it!! Have a fabulous Monday everyone!!!!!! Here’s to saving time and getting stuff DONE today! To view MORE helpful topics, visit HERE!

xoxo, Katelyn
15 Comments Resources, Ask Anything, Education
  1. Amanda Veronee reply

    Great advice! And totally applicable/inspirational to floral design :)

  2. Loren Jackson reply

    This is interesting! And makes complete sense! I’m excited to see how you use photo mechanic on the 18th for my coaching session. It’s such a complex software that I know i’m not using it to it’s full capacity! 10 DAYS!!!!! :D

  3. Ashley Braswell reply

    Genius! I’m totally going to try this for this past weekend’s wedding! Thanks for sharing! :)

  4. Jana Long reply

    Sooooo going to try this!

  5. Nicole Salter reply

    Genius, yet again

  6. Sarah Peyton reply

    Holy smokes, that is such a great point. I can’t wait to try it! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Ashley Durham reply

    As I’m sitting here culling the reception from the last wedding we just shot, I’m totally nodding my head to the “should have done the reception FIRST” advice, haha!

  8. Megan Kelsey Marcus reply

    WHY HAVE I NEVER THOUGHT OF THIS?! The reception killllssss me when I get there!! Same with editing honestly! Maybe I should edit backwards too… haha! Thanks for this helpful tip :)

  9. Jillian Tree reply

    I’ve actually heard that before…and written out that way, it makes sense!! I’ll have to try it after my 11-hour wedding this Saturday :)

  10. Gertrude Gusewelle reply

    Amazing! I can’t wait to try this with my next cull! Also want to look into that program you use…I currently use bridge to quickly flip through & rate my images but I also open them in photoshop to see them full size, (which is ridiculous I know) & then only put the images I’m going to edit into Lightroom…I like knowing I’m pulling the best of the best, but it takes me way too long to sort through a full wedding!
    Thanks for the tips!

  11. Arnel reply

    What a fantastic article! Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to implementing!

  12. Dennis Bullock reply

    This is so great Katelyn! Can I ask how many images on average that you end up delivering to your clients in their galleries?

  13. Anastasia Borisyuk reply

    I’ve been doing this, sort of. It’s funny that when I start culling I’m naturally drawn to the end, and then I slap my own hand and make myself start from the beginning. So I’m going to try this with the next wedding! :)

  14. One of My Biggest Timesavers | Lauren R Swann Photography reply

    […] last tip for increasing speed in culling that I learned from my sweet friend Katelyn, is to cull in reverse.  As the day goes on, your images are going to get better.  Culling […]

  15. Creating a Solid Workflow | Photographer Akron Ohio reply

    […] reception photos.  I cull backwards thanks to an awesome tip, again from Katelyn James!  You can read that blog post here.  The tagged, or favorite photos then just get dragged and dropped into Lightroom!  I […]

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