Today, I want to share my boudoir photography workflow that I use. This is the workflow that I have developed now that I overcame my fear and I do In Person Sales sessions after every client’s session.
Let me get this out of the way: this works FOR ME. There are a million different ways to do things, as we have discussed before. Create the business you want to create. This is my way of doing them. No right or wrong, and I’m sharing my perspective to help you out. That said, I would LOVE to hear how you do things, as I’m sure my readers would as well. Feel free to leave a comment!
Backing Up Your Photographs
After each session, I back up my images to both a Western Digital My Book Drive and a Western Digital Passport Drive. I work off of the Passport Drive because it is easy to move around, I can hand it to my editing assistant as needed.
I make two copies of everything just in case a drive fails, there was a transfer error when copying the files, or I lose a drive. None of these things have happened to me in 5 years, but I really don’t want to tempt fate. I also check the files (bringing them in to Lightroom) before I reformat and shoot on the memory card again. Just in case!
Memory is cheap these days. I use one drive until I fill it up. Then I move on to a new drive. If you want to learn more about Lightroom workflows, I highly recommend anything by Jared Platt. He has several videos and Creative Live courses you can check out!
Culling Your Photographs
I am a heavy shooter. I had a camera body for 2-3 years that was temperamental about focusing so I developed this habit; I also work at f/1.8 most of the time, and last but not least, people blink. I’d rather have too many than too little. The same goes for my culling of the photographs. I often leave 2-3 options of the same pose in my editing for clients to chose from. Half smile, full smile, closed lips. Head tilted or not tilted. I want them to have the option. The differences may be slight, but they are different.
I often leave over 100 images in my final collection of proofs; sometimes it is closer to 200.
The fact that I do In Person Sales is VERY IMPORTANT here. I would not recommend doing this if I was posting images in an online gallery. I get to control how quickly they see the images, so they don’t end up in analysis paralysis.
I also offer products with higher image counts. I have one album option that has up to 100 pages in it, so they could potentially buy 100 images.
I choose to do this because Boudoir photography is a very intimate experience. While I am the expert and know which photos are the best, I like to give them some say in the final selections. Sometimes, the smile I love the most is not the smile that they love. My brand is about self-acceptance and beauty within all of us, but I also understand that we all have some quirks that we can learn to accept, and still might not want a photograph of them.
Proofing the Photographs
I do all of my preparation for viewing sessions in Lightroom. I do not open Photoshop for a single image for the In Person Sales Session. After I have completed my culling of the images, I go through them and do a check on the White Balance and on the colors. I convert some to black and white. I might adjust a crop.
I choose to only do full retouching on the final images that they select for their albums and wall art in Photoshop.
I educate my clients repeatedly on this part of my process. At the session I will remind my clients that I do not do full retouching because, “If I did that, you would have to wait so long to see your photographs! I know you’re excited and you can’t wait to see them!” They get it, they really do.
I also don’t do full retouching again because of what I have opted to build as my brand. I think that the mass media’s extreme overuse of Photoshop is distorting our image of reality and our perception of beauty. I want my clients to see just how beautiful they truly are – without Photoshop! I’ve had several clients question me in their viewing sessions, insisting I had modified their images. Nope, not at all … that is ALL YOU. Beautiful. Just like you are.
Recently, I saw a photographer friend post proofs online from a session she had had done. The proofs were fully retouched. She said in the commentary, “If only I looked like this every day.” I won’t lie, it broke my heart a little. It resonated with me. That is why I don’t fully retouch my proofs.
In our viewing session, if I sense that they are hesitating over an image because of a flaw that they see, I will discuss with them what I am going to edit in the photographs. I have not found retouching the images makes any difference in my sales, and since it impacts my costs it is more profitable for me to not do it.
Preparing the Slideshow
Once I have completed culling the images and doing an quick pass through the images to color correct them, I select images for a slideshow that I create with Animoto. I normally select 50-75 images. I use this slideshow to kick off our meeting as it gives them a chance to just see the images without thinking about if they are going to stay or go.
How Long My Workflow Takes
My workflow, from importing the images in to Lightroom, through culling them, color correcting them, selecting images for Animoto and making the Animoto Slideshow itself takes me 1 to 1.5 hours. (This does not include the time to back up the cards to two drives – I normally start that at night when I’m done working and walk away.) My goal is for this to be a quick process.
Of course, this time does not include the full, final retouching I will do to an image before it goes to print – this is just my workflow to get me to the viewing session.
What is Your Workflow?
Do you do things the same? Different? Any tips or advice?