Inside Benfield Photography: Our Workflow

Dale's Mug

Hey everybody!

We have a 7 day turnaround on all our weddings. For that, you might think we’re crazy (well, maybe we are). Our 7 day turnaround has helped us rise up to the top of the wedding photography pool in Northwest Arkansas. In the land and time of instant gratification, our speed is highly valued by our clients.

It takes a lot of effort on our part, as well as diligence, to deliver digital proofs the weekend after a couple’s wedding. First, I want to explain WHY we go through this trouble. There are two main reasons: 1) to generate buzz as close to the wedding day as possible. Bridesmaids and wedding guests tag the bride on facebook the week following the wedding while the iron is still hot. Every day I wait we lose excitement and relevance (which is why we normally tag a bride the Wednesday or Thursday after the wedding with their wedding portraits); 2) to be as prepared as possible for the upcoming wedding, with nothing hanging over our shoulders. So, not only is it our gift to the clients to be finished with one week’s wedding before we get to the next week’s wedding, it is also a gift to ourselves. We don’t want the pile of work to continue growing. It’s extremely important to me to be caught up so I can focus on the task at hand, not to fret about a growing stack of work on my desktop.

Okay, now that I’ve discussed why, let me explain HOW we do this so efficiently:
1) The first step is to get correct exposures in camera. This saves so much computer time.
2) Download the cards the night of the wedding (even if it’s super late, my adrenaline keeps me up).
3) Backup the images on an external hard drive and head to bed.
4) The following day I go through all 3000-4000 images using Photo Mechanic and mark my “selects” – typically around 700. This is the longest part of the entire process and takes about four hours.
5) Back up the “selects” to the external hard drive.
6) On Monday, I take the day off. Meredith goes through the selects and chooses her favorite 20-50 to “special tone” – This is the longest part for Meredith. It usually takes her around four or five hours.
*Optional step after 6: tweet and/or facebook tag a teaser image to create some buzz (do this on Monday or Tuesday for the best effect)
7) Sort (we put our “special tones” first, then chronological), batch rename, and burn discs.
8 ) Create final backup on external hard drive.
9) Upload to our online backup (we use Zenfolio for all our online backups).
10) Finally, we can reformat our CF cards for the next weekend’s wedding.

Like I said before, we blog the images on Wednesday and/or Thursday following a wedding. Then, we tag them on facebook on Thursday and/or Friday. Lastly, we release the images to our client through our online shopping cart on Friday/Saturday.

Feel free to ask me any follow-up questions in the comments and I’ll get in and answer them!

Talk to you soon,

11 Responses to “Inside Benfield Photography: Our Workflow”

  1. david says:

    Great work. This is pretty similar to my work flow except I do find myself going through all my “keepers” and making small adjustments, getting rid of blemishes, etc. This adds a good 2 hours.

  2. bizior says:

    wow, 7 days turnaround for a wedding with 3-4k pictures is pretty impressive. How did you guys edit the pictures? Do you use more LR or PS? Do you release only those 40-50 “Special tone” images to the client, or all 700? And finally what is the purpose of those “special tone” images? Thanks…

  3. Julie says:

    So, do you do any editing to the remainder of the 700 selects? Or, do you leave them SOOC?

  4. Levi Ely says:

    So do you make any adjustments to the 650 other photos? Or just straight out of the camera?

  5. Dale says:

    thanks for the questions!
    edit: PS
    release: all 700
    purpose: “suggestive selling” and blogging and facebook tagging

  6. So I’m confused. The “special toned” images are the ones you blog right? Do you not edit the rest of the images? I just feel that as a photographer, editing images is part of my job and I wouldn’t be able to justify giving client’s that pay a premium price for wedding photography unedited images. :-/
    If I were a client and I see all of the beautiful images in a photographer’s portfolio and then receive my proofs with only about 7-10% of the images edited, I would feel extremely cheated.

    Now that’s just assuming you truly edit the “special toned” images and not touch the rest. Or just batch the rest with generic actions. If you equally edit all of the 700 images in a week, kudos to you man. Haha. That’s insane.

    I usually end up with about the same amount of images, that’s why I was wondering. I give my wedding clients about a month wait time for their proofing gallery. I wish I could do it in a week though. That way, like you said, the hype is still up. I usually have about 30-40 on Facebook within a week. But especially here lately when I’ve been doing two weddings in one weekend, there’s NO way one week would be possible.

  7. BY THE WAY, you’re a lot better, more experienced photographer than I am. But still, I thought that IIIII was quick at editing weddings. Haha. The average time quoted for weddings in my area is 6 months, so I get a lot of business in that I edit them in a month.

  8. Hey Dale!
    We have a 2 week turnaround and are just starting to use Zenfolio to make the ordering/proofing process easier. Do you use them for online proofing also? If so what is your process with couples and their album or package selections? Do you have any tips (we’re just about to go live). Thanks and keep up the great work!


  9. bizior says:

    Thanks again for your reply – that makes even more sense now 🙂

  10. Adam says:

    7 days seems crazy, but alas, its all about workflow, I get that… and I’m fairly quick at my culling, and whatnot.

    The question I have is when do you meet clients, and what about album design (revisions) and delivery.

    Nice work!

  11. Hey everybody! Thanks for your questions! Here we go with more answers:
    1) yes, that’s all I edit. I get everything right in camera. As for blemishes, I don’t waste time on fixing these unless they put them in their album. Or order prints of them.
    2) I feel like the premium price isn’t about how many edited images I give them – it’s about the EXPERIENCE I give them. Starbucks doesn’t make the best coffee, but I go there every day and drop 5 bucks.
    3) Zenfolio is the bomb! I just got the new Premium Business plan and I’m loving it!!
    4) For albums, the couple chooses images, but I help. My graphic designer (on staff) takes it from there. 🙂
    5) I meet clients before they ever book. We take them out to dinner to see if we’re a good fit – kinda like a blind date, except one that has done a background check on me. Haha! We meet again for the engagement shoot, the bridal shoot, the agenda meeting (two weeks prior to wedding), and random other times. We’re friends by the wedding day.
    Album revisions are all done through email and online with our graphic designer. If we have a particularly bad-at-emailing client, we invite her over to work with our graphic designer, but that’s rarely the case. Also they get two revisions for free.