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How to Review a Wedding Photography Shoot and Pick Which Photos to Edit

A wedding is often one of the most important days in a couple’s lives, and as the wedding photographer, there’s a lot of pressure on you to capture those memories in the best way possible. In this lesson we look at how to choose the images you’ll go on to process after the big day.

Choosing Wedding Photography Images

Make Backups and Transfer Images

If you’ve photographed a wedding then you've likely taken hundreds of pictures. Before you do anything with them, make sure they're backed up to another hard drive and preferably one that's kept at a different site to your computer just in case the worst happens.

It's worth investing in a decent card reader so that you're not waiting ages for your files to transfer. If you’ve been shooting with two cameras, be wary if dropping all the photos into the same folder they might have the same file extension and want to overwrite the previous version.

First Pass

Once your pictures are loaded into your folder, you should make a first pass. This involves going through all your images and removing any that are out of focus or otherwise not quite right.

This can be a hard skill to develop, it's hard to look through images and admit that some don't work but it's really critical to how we develop as photographers, so remember initially, you’re just looking at photographs that are technically ‘off’ and then you’ll go through the rest again in a new pass.

make a first pass and reject any poor quality imagesmake a first pass and reject any poor quality imagesmake a first pass and reject any poor quality images
Make a first pass and reject any poor quality images

You don’t have to delete the photographs in this pass, just select them and move them to another photo, or use the right-click Reject option – as above, in Adobe Bridge – to hide them from view.

You can always choose to see your rejected files again You can always choose to see your rejected files again You can always choose to see your rejected files again
You can always choose to see your rejected files again

If you change your mind and want to see these images again, you can do to View and Show Reject Files.

Remember that some files can look a little soft in preview, so click on them to see the full size image before you discount them.

Another thing to look for is closed eyes – if one of the wedding party has their eyes closed then that’s never going to be recoverable, so it’ll have to go.

Second Pass

When you've finished your first pass and removed photographs from the main folder, it’s time for your second pass.

In this, look for images that don’t really work. This could be things like an awkward composition, or an exposure that isn’t great, or maybe there's an unflattering photo of someone.

Use the star rating system to rate your photosUse the star rating system to rate your photosUse the star rating system to rate your photos
Use the star rating system to rate your photos 

Most photo editing software suites have some kind of rating system. With a right-click on the preview image in Bridge, you can see in the photo above the star rating system.

In this pass, looking for the things just mentioned that don’t make for a great photo, mark them with one star. The reason for this is that instead of rejecting or removing the images, you can look at them again in a future pass.

One star images will be technically okay, just not your best photosOne star images will be technically okay, just not your best photosOne star images will be technically okay, just not your best photos
One star images will be technically okay, just not your best photos

When you’ve rated it, you’ll see the star rating appear above the title of the photo, underneath its preview.

In the example above, there’s nothing wrong with the photo, but it isn’t great. It’s a good option to have if for some reason that turned out to be the only good shot of the bride’s ring, so best to hold onto it until you’ve gone through all the images and know what you have.

Third and Final Pass

You can do as many passes as you like really, but we’re looking at at least three here, and in the third one, you should be checking every photograph in its full size and then use the rest of the star ratings, with 5 for photos that are fantastic and you definitely want to include, down to 2 which would be ‘the photo is okay but I have better options of similar things.’

You should make this pass with a much more critical eye, and be thorough. Think about the people in the photographs, would they be happy with how they look here? You can’t please everyone all the time but try your best to put yourself in their shoes.

As you go through, also look back over your previously one star rated photos and decide whether you want to keep them: is this the only photo you have of that person or subject? If so, you'll probably need it, if not then go ahead and hit reject.

Sort your photographs by your star ratingSort your photographs by your star ratingSort your photographs by your star rating
Sort your photographs by your star rating 

Once you've done that then you can hit View > Sort and sort it by your star rating and it's going to put them in order for you, and hopefully then you’ll have a great base to start editing your photographs into an album.

More Wedding Articles

About the Authors

Marie Gardiner created the video course that includes this lesson, and wrote the updated text version. Marie is a writer and photographer from England, with a background in media.

This lesson was edited and published by Jackson Couse. Jackson is a photographer and the editor of the Photo & Video section of Envato Tuts+.

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