The day after – Post Processing

All right, you have successfully completed that photo session and you walked away with hundreds of photos that somehow need to be presented to your client as a final product. I’m sure the customer won’t be interested in keeping all of them although it could be requested. Many of them will be retakes, duplicates or simply non-usable from quality perspective. The next step is to ask your client to make selection and mark those photos they want to keep. This process could take some time and I would highly recommend you leave the decision to them … let the client choose what they feel is worth trading their money for. In terms of numbers this can vary. Determining the scope of work before the actual session will always prove to be a right step in your sales process. It might sound impossible, but you should have a rough idea what your client is expecting and how many photos they might need.

I always pick at least 100-200 photos and post them on my website. One thing for sure, you’ve got to have a password protected area on your site where only authorized customer have access to. These proofs in general can remain there for a while but eventually you will remove them making space for your other stuff. I found this workflow pretty good and trouble-free … I hope my clients share the same impression.

In general, 99% of all photos you take need some sort of post processing and fine tuning. How many files you’ll be working on and how much time you’ll spend in Photoshop is directly related to your experience and quality of shooting. Taking those pictures is half the battle. What you do in post processing is almost as important as nailing the shot in the first place. If your photos look amazing right out of camera, you’re really lucky … post processing might be quite easy. From my experience, food photographs always require heavy processing and you will rarely walk away with just a little bit of touch ups. Depending on complexity, you will probably edit and work on each individual file. I have one suggestion. Once you pick the “keepers”, try to automate the process as much as you can. I can share what I do but again you might find it awkward:

  1. Considering I use Canon equipment and shoot RAW format, my first step is editing files in Canon Photo Professional (this step is for basic analysis only).
  2. Using the Adobe Lightroom I process images in batches for common things like resizing, color temperature and white balance adjustments (I start with RAW files).
  3. Final processing step takes place in Adobe Photoshop. In here, I basically do everything that needs to be done. Unfortunately, it’s the most time consuming piece. The final result must comply with given requirements. I’m not gonna go into technical details because it’s way too complex … I will cover this topic in some future post.

Many will ask how much you charge for post processing. There are two ways of doing it. If your original quote includes post processing time it can be pretty straight forward. The challenge here is knowing how much work lies ahead of you … the client can always change their mind or requirements but expect the same fixed cost. The agreement has its good and bad side. Your customers will likely prefer to deal with only one fixed cost. On the other hand, you might leave post processing as a separate project and submit the quote after your photoshoot is completed. Don’t forget one thing, the client always have an option of hiring a third party company/individual to do this job. If they decide to do so, don’t take it personally … after all, it’s the budget that dictates and drives their decision. When it comes to hourly rate, I think charging anywhere between $100 and $150 per hour will be just fine. Before you rush in and offer your services, you got to make sure you know what you’re doing. Don’t expect your client to pay for your lack of knowledge, expertize and slow turnaround time. Proficiency and timely execution is a key … after all, you got to be frank about your computer skills and position yourself in this role accordingly.


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