Photo Tips

For Photographers: Outsourcing Your Wedding Photo Editing

April 6, 2017

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Something I get asked about A LOT from other photographers is how I outsource my editing! It has been one of the best decisions I have made in my business. Last summer (from May-July), I had a lot of weddings packed into those months. After May had gone by, I realized just how much TIME I was spending editing photos. Summer was supposed to be the time I could work on more projects to move my business forward… but all my time was being eaten up, trying to keep up with editing. When I wasn’t editing, I was trying to catch up and work on other areas of my business… only to have to stop and edit again. By the end of the summer, I hadn’t done much hiking, going to the pool, reading new books, or just relaxing. I knew something had to change… and the thing that  was (obviously) eating up my time was editing my photos.

I started searching for a photo editor sometime in June. It wasn’t until July or August that I stumbled upon Donya Luana. She was just starting to get more into photo editing for photographers, as opposed to shooting for herself. She has been a LIFE SAVER for me.

Before I go any further! ALL photos you see on my website + blog are edited by MYSELF. So if you’re wondering if my photo editor does my website work… she doesn’t! :) It’s purely for help with full wedding galleries. And even then, I still go through and make sure every photo is how I would edit it (but Donya’s gotten pretty good :)).



Here’s how it all works:

1. I cull my own photos. Using Photo Mechanic (if you don’t have this, GET IT NOW), I go through and pick out all the photos I want to deliver to my clients, as well as all the photos I want to use in their blog post.

2. I edit all of my blog photos. This usually ends up being between 50-150 photos, depending on whether it’s an engagement session or wedding and how much was going on! This not only allows me to blog a whole wedding within a few days after I shot it, but it also gives her an idea of how to edit certain parts of a wedding day. Win-win!

I usually have the first two steps done within 1-3 days after I shoot a wedding, depending on when I have time to sit down and do it. 

3. I send the photos for Donya to edit via a Lightroom Smart Previews Catalog. This is a little more complicated to understand, but so easy to use once you do understand it! Here’s a great article that pretty much explains what I do: Basically, I make sure all of my photos have a Smart Preview attached to them, then export all the photos as a new Lightroom catalog WITHOUT the original RAW photos attached to them.

4. Donya edits the photos using the Lightroom Smart Previews Catalog I sent her, then sends it back to me.  I send Donya the catalog I created so she can edit all the photos in that catalog. Once she’s done editing, she then sends her catalog with all her edits on it back to me. Since I have the original files, I can use her edits to export the photos with her edits. The amount of time a photo editor can take completely depends on who you use, but Donya is super speedy and usually has a whole wedding done in around 3 days.

So to recap the last two steps: A Lightroom Smart Previews Catalog allows her edit my photos without needing all my RAW files! She basically is just editing “previews” of the photos, then sending back her edits to me, then I export the photos with her edits. :) Also, we just use Dropbox to send these files back and forth to each other!

5. I go through each photo in the gallery and make any minor adjustments I want to make. Occasionally I prefer something to be cropped a little differently, or want to bring down the exposure in a photo… whatever it is, I usually make minor adjustments on a small number of the photos.

6. I export the photos and deliver them to my couple! All usually within 7-10 days from their wedding. :) Woohoo!!



How do I find a photo editor?

Well, Donya is pretty awesome! ;) She was amazing at matching my style and I love her turnaround time. However, if you are looking for more options, I highly recommend finding a boutique (personal) photo editor rather than using a larger company. Edit Source is an absolutely FANTASTIC tool for finding THE perfect photo editor!! It was started by Katelyn James’ editor, Marissa Lynn.

How does your photo editor match your style?

When I first contacted Donya, she took the time to look through a few wedding galleries I had edited to get a feel for my style and how I usually edit. She also uses my “base” preset as  a starting point for all my photos. Also, having the blog photos already edited helps guide her even more! We also did some “test runs” with a handful of photos, then I gave her feedback on what I would do differently. Don’t be afraid to be picky! I was very particular with what I wanted her to do differently when we did this, and with the first few weddings she edited. The more you communicate, the better your photo editor can match your style.

How much time does this save you?

On average, I would spend 20-25 hours per wedding editing it (plus a lot of procrastination time… ha). The time I save allows me to pour that back into other areas of my business, as well as spending more time with friends, family, and Michael. In my opinion, that is priceless. I have so much more FREEDOM because of it.

How much does it cost you?

I pay 30 cents per image Donya edits for me. This is pretty standard in the industry, but can range from lower to higher than that! If you look above at how much time I save… it’s completely worth it.


That’s it, friends! Hope this was helpful and gave you a good idea of whether or not it’s a good fit for you. If you have any further questions, feel free to ask it in a comment below or email me at [email protected].

  1. Monica Brown says:

    This is SUPER helpful Stephanie! I’ve been considering this but had no clue where to start and no I know :) Really looking forward to meeting you at Phellowship!

    • Stephanie Brann says:

      Hey Monica! So glad it was helpful! :) Hopefully it gives you some insight on whether or not to do it yourself! Can’t WAIT to meet you!! :) 

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