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Post Workflow - Outsourcing

Lesson 60 from: 30 Days of Wedding Photography

Susan Stripling

Post Workflow - Outsourcing

Lesson 60 from: 30 Days of Wedding Photography

Susan Stripling

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Lesson Info

60. Post Workflow - Outsourcing

Next Lesson: Q&A Days 12-23


Class Trailer

Day 1




Evolution of Susan's Style


Branding and Identity


Mistakes Made and Lessons Learned


Day 2


Introduction to Gear & Equipment


Lenses Part 1


Lenses Part 2




Day 3


Seeing the Scene


Seeing the Scene Q&A


Rhythm and Repetition


Leading Lines and Rule of Thirds


Rule of Odds and Double Exposures


Day 4


Intro to Business


Day 5


Financing Your Business


Day 6


Q&A Days 1-4


Day 7


Pricing Calculator


Day 8


Package Pricing


Day 9




Day 10


Vendor Relationships & Referrals


Day 11


Marketing w Social Media


Day 12


Booking the Client


Day 13


The Pricing Conversation


Day 14


Turn A Call Into a Meeting


Day 15


In Person Meeting


Day 16


Wedding Planning


Day 17


Actual Client Pre Wedding Sit Down


Day 18


Engagement Session Details


Day 19


Engagement Session On Location


Day 20


Wedding Details & Tips


Day 21


Detail Photos Reviewed


Day 22


Bridal Preparation


Day 23


Bridal Preparation Photo Review


Day 24


Bridal Prep - What If Scenarios


Day 25


Q&A Days 5-11


Day 26


First Look Demo


Day 27


First Look Examples


Day 28


Portraits of the Bride


Day 29


Portraits of the Bride and Groom


Family Portraits Demo


Family Formal Examples


Wedding Ceremony Demo


Day 30


Wedding Ceremony Examples


Different Traditions and Faiths


Wedding Cocktail Hour and Reception Room Demo


Wedding Cocktail Hour and Reception Room Examples


Wedding Introductions


First Dance


Wedding Toasts


Parent Dances


Wedding Party


Reception Events


Nighttime Portraits


Nighttime Portraits with Found Light


Post Wedding Session Demo


Post Wedding Session Critique


Wedding Day Difficulties


Post Workflow - Backing Up Folder Structure


Post Workflow - Culling Shots


Post Workflow - Outsourcing


Q&A Days 12-23


Post Workflow - Gear


Post Workflow - Lightroom Editing


Managing Your Studio


Post Wedding Marketing


Client Care


Pricing for Add-Ons


The Album Process


Balancing Your Business with Life


Post Wedding Problems


Parent Complaints


Unhappy Customers


Working with an Assistant


Assistant Q&A


Lighting with an Assistant


Q&A Days 24-30


Lesson Info

Post Workflow - Outsourcing

Why? And how do we outsource? Because at the point where I choose my keepers, I rename that keeper folder. I dropped them on the transporter. And then I dropped the mic and I'm out until the file's miraculously appear on zen folio five to six weeks later. Um hey, jin, what are you doing tonight? Shot up. I'm doing your weddings, it's true. But there there wasn't always a time that I outsource. There was a time that I did everything myself for a period of time in florida had an employee that did them for me. But when you know when that relationship didn't really work because of the distance, not because of her, but because of the distance. There were about three years in there that I did my own weddings. We call those dark days? Yes. We call those you know, those who shall not be named those years. And they were ok when I was doing thirty weddings. Thirty five weddings did. It was great. We were fine. It was all good. And all of a sudden it was the year that I did forty five weddings an...

d I processed them all by myself. Guys, seriously, I got sick, I got sick a couple of times. I had a lot of, like, weird health problems because I wasn't taking care of myself. I was literally chained to the computer, I would work and shoot a wedding or to a weekend, and I would come home and I would work sixty to seventy hours on the back end, and I was unhappy and like, just the misery was really overwhelming, and it was a weird, guilt based misery where I was so happy to have all of this work and so angry to have to keep working on it at the same time that I reached a point where I was like, listen, guys, I like, I've got outsource, so I did what everybody does. I went to the big names in the industry, the ones that you always hear, and I'm not gonna bad mouth them because it just don't play that game all of that if you've ever heard of them, I tried them, and they promise you grand things, send us fifteen to twenty test files were gonna work back and forth to get the style exactly where you want it and then send us a wedding suite. They would nail the test files, almost always nail the test file ls, and then I would send them a wedding, and what I would get back would be god awful. Like completely disconnected or I would get back a wedding and it would be sweet and then we get back the next wedding and it would look like it had been processed by somebody completely different and while it was cheap it was completely unreliable I was not able to find a single company that could give me any type of continuity and I was also running it up against the problem where I couldn't really have an employee working out of my home in new york because of the way the laws are I would have had to have a studio tohave an employee working in my space full time and I didn't want somebody that was my employee working from home all the time that didn't make any sense for me at all I wanted to outsource I didn't want to have an employee that I had to pay when I wasn't busy that would have been what am I going to do in january? February march men shooting one to two weddings a month I don't need somebody full time then I ain't somebody sort of seasonally full time and not sort of how this got started yeah I seem to remember you getting a wedding back and there was some crying and then I got more with like rending of clothe and wailing there was also falling on the ground there may have been some falling on the ground yes but yeah, actually, it was calling you at one o'clock in the morning and just crying uncontrollably. I just got that wedding back this wedding back that's, due to the clients in a week, they promised me that it would be better than the first version that they tried. It looks really horrible. I don't know what to do. I can't keep up this speed and I could keep up the speed, but the quality of the work that I was out putting was becoming mediocre. I mean, a single person studio, I mean, most people, a lot of people watch this and they say, wow, I can't believe somebody shoots fifty, fifty two weddings in a year that seems impossible, she really does she really does do that, but when you do do that and you're a single person, you can't do everything, so you've gotta let go of something. And even if it's not out of thinking, you're just gonna have no life, you're gonna have friends, right or joy, but if you if you're gonna if you're gonna live and you're going to see your children and maybe see your husband occasionally, you have one of those two d'oh, d'oh I think that you have to let go of something, and even if it is an outsourcing, because this is not self serving even if it's not outsourcing it's got to be something if you want to let go of your marketing and hire someone to handle your blogged for you you can certainly do that. Um if you want to let go of other aspects of your business you khun do it but you've gotta let go of something at that what do you have to pair your numbers down and then you find a few pair your numbers down you're not making enough money so what what in the world do you do? And it reached a point where I looked at what I was bringing in every single year I looked at what I could afford for post production and we sat down and we actually did the math how much time am I spending on post production? How much of it is how much of it is like sucking the energy out of my day if I outsource? What do we think you're forty five weddings a year like forty five to forty eight weddings in here that's the math we tow at an eight hour work day five day workweek if I outsourced all of them I got back three months, right? Our numbers may be a little off, but when we did the math it was it was pretty close I mean even just say two months and about two months of my life in those two months could I make enough money on another endeavor to afford the post production that I was paying for and then some yes I can absolutely can I can take time to write a book I can pick up another wedding or two now that I'm not buried in postproduction I can pick up a few more weddings and bury her in postproduction but no it it freed up two months out of my life to live my life too concentrate on my client care my customer service all of a sudden went through the roof I can talk on the phone to a client for however long they want without having to think oh my god I've got to get off the phone I've got to get back to the computer and it just freed me up and that's when our fortuitously when you were like my friend john and I are thinking of starting a company I was like can you start it right now absolutely because coming from being a photographer myself and servicing my own clients who I still do the processing for myself she is I I did understand you know what people were facing especially someone like susan who has high volume studio um and what you're really looking for is just a solution that you can rely on which I think is something that you were not finding and I don't want to know about anybody that companies were lying to me yeah they would tell me oh it's the same person that's going to edit your stuff every time but then I would find out that it was just a bunch of people on it would go to whoever that person had a really smooth for snow or they were farming them out to india right? Yeah, that was awesome yes sir a lot of good things to say about the other companies and I know that jennifer is full on new clients were actually hiring at the moment to attempt to accommodate some medicinal be so for people who are looking to outsource what a fantastic question and very well time that's actually because you guys do come with a higher price tag because it is I mean it's kind of a luxury service it's like the rolls royce of post production teams oh, that made me feel very special thing I ran to a couple of card that said so you know, I appreciate it uh I mean, they're expensive it's true and to me it's worth it because we've been working together for two years now I do look most of the time I look at the weddings when you give them back to me but I know now that we've worked together enough that what I'm going to get from her is exactly what I want but there was a period of time in which you were still learning my style you were telling me that the colors that I were doing were wrong? That's true, I would look at my files should be like, I understand you want something warm now you're doing it dead wrong, so we're gonna do it right now. We're going to show it to you, and then we're going to get it. We're gonna get it right for you. So I had toyed with hiring an employee I had toyed with looking at other companies. What advice would you give them if they're trying to find someone to force to? But your waiting list is still a mile long? It is, but I'm sure we're not the only people out there that are doing a great job with files. I mean, I think it would be naive to think that, um, I would say that in my experience, probably the best thing to do would be to try to find perhaps a smaller shop with whom you can have a sort of a more one on one relationship of that makes sense. So you want to find somebody who actually is working on your files, and then maybe they have a couple of other clients, but they're the person that you were working with and when there is a problem. Even talk about it and when they see something going on with your work, they can talk to you about it. So I guess it's a little bit of a cliche, but I would say you want personalized service, you want to find somebody maybe who's just one or two people, which is how we started out we're trying to get a little bigger, but we can't get too big because we don't want to lose quality control, but if you can find perhaps another photographer who enjoys post processing who is not shooting as many weddings is ur and would like to make up their income doing post and you look at their work and you think, wow, they're post is really good. I wonder if they could do that for me. I could sort of see something's happening there because I do feel like there are some photographers that augment their income with postproduction. I know there are some I'm from d c I have seen a few people that do do that something that do it with, like album design. Yeah, other things exactly liking it like the pricing episodes and everything we were talking about. If you can't make all of your money by shooting weddings, what do you do to diversify? You know that would be a great opportunity for another photographer to maybe supplement their income by taking on you are a post processing right and maybe they only take on one person and that one person is you and you guys can develop our working relationship and maybe even you know, a friendship that you can kind of work together and get results that work for everyone think about the other thing more importantly and above and beyond that I don't think that you should be outsourcing until you have first on every single thing that you can to streamline your own workflow because if you're sitting there and you're shooting twenty weddings a year and you're like oh my god, I'm drowning in the work I'm drowning in the work you're doing something wrong how are you drowning in twenty weddings a year, right? I mean, if you're drowning in twenty weddings a year either you're not optimizing your workflow and I'm going to talk about that tomorrow or you know you're just you're learning your on a learning curve we all have to go through the learning curve on dh kind of keep the faith and keep working and you will get better and you will get better and my point was I could do this and you can teach me to do this exactly how you could have hired side part of teaching me how to do it I still wouldn't have enough hours in the day unless I was at superhuman robert pattinson and twilight running through the fields speed of how I work that it again today I don't know but I do appreciate it was like my fifth twilight but literally unless I were working at superhuman speeds that are completely unnatural to the known man I just didn't have enough hours in the day to maintain all of it and to maintain quality control on top of it all and I mean larger studios often have the luxury if they have more than one shooter they may be able to have a dedicated person in house who could do the post production for them on we have trained a few people like that you know we do sort of a non line training program with those people to kind of get them using our methodology and to work quickly but at the end of the day they work for that studio and it helps them to speed up their process it's true so if you are kind of stuck if you're like oh my gosh I totally like now need to outsource because my work flow is like crais um e can't even do it like ridiculous but if you really think that oh my gosh now I need to outsource I really do take a little bit of time and put the time into improving your workflow and streamlining everything because I'm still up with what you guys were doing if something were to happen and generals like we're not gonna decide car anymore and I had to take my wedding's back. I haven't totally lost touch with how to do them. I could still do them if I had to. I hate them. And please, don't just please don't ever make me do them again. Thank you. You made it through the whole one without a it's like a little bunny it's, true growth stop touching me, I but I mean, I think I can still do it myself, like I haven't handed it off and then just been like, I don't want to know because you never know, like what if what if you guys hired another employee? That was terrible and you ended up giving me to that other employees and I didn't like it. Or what if I had a really bad year and I didn't have that much money and I needed to take back a bunch of my weddings that's, you know, always on the table, it's not gonna happen, like all sell things before before I take my weddings that she didn't start paying me in jewelry unfair, but honestly, when I actually sat down when I ran, because, you know, I'm a spreadsheet person I ran, how much is it going to cost for me to outsource each wedding? How much time will that give back to me? What can I do with that time to make money and well, the money I make in that time be more than I paid to outsource if the answer is yes then good god that's that's a no brainer right there. So we do have a lot to talk about with jen when she actually is actually going to delve into when this mysterious final transporter squirrel puts the beautiful fairy images on her hard drive what if that was the we're in this analogy ever what is she going to do with them? She was going to show you and she can do work flow in a way that I I just don't want to let let's be honest but questions about outsourcing questions about getting to this point is there anything that I can help you with before we, uh go to sleep and wait for tomorrow? Nice anything we can help you guys with absolutely a sze yu guys were building your relationship together. Jennifer, how many times back and forth in the early days were you more of like I think we should be doing it like this or I think it was we're going to do it like yeah, can you talk about that? Perhaps I have a strong personality well, I think that's why I was doing a lot of things wrong well right I think with susan I was a little bit of an advantage because we were friends before we started working together, and I was very familiar with her work, so I had a pretty good understanding of what she wanted her final product will look like, so we sort of had some back and forth because there were things that she was doing that she just wasn't noticing it was not you never put a halo bad, there were definitely some halo moments that halo problem has gone away. You ever looked at an image and you can tell it's been dodging, burned because it's got like, that people look like they're glowing, you know, they might be angels, you're not sure that does happen, so I sort of did get back to her about certain things related to that, and it was it wasn't like you don't know what you're doing, it's you're so incredibly fast, you're making these mistakes and you were overwhelmed and it was it was natural that you weren't gonna look, but when you're talking about style, which I think is what you're asking me about, what would happen would be, I would go through like getting ready, and I would have a pretty good idea based on susan's work that she was looking for something more moody. She wasn't trying to even things out. I knew this, so there was never a moment of like, look, I made it all evenly lit for you with no bell curve, as in history, greatness here, that's not what we're doing, but there were certain things where I would come back and saying, you know, you shot this at thirty two hundred and it was like, one one thousandth of a second, come on, you didn't need to do that, you could have shot it four hundred, you would've had a better quality image, things like that. There was also an issue at one point. This was actually really useful. There was a time when she first got the deformed, I got her first two weddings that she shot with the d for and after I screamed and rolled around on the floor a little bit, I gave her a call and I said, I think your lcd brightness might be off because all of your photos are at least two stop underexposed. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have throw up thing because just now, my problem, but seriously, things like that you don't think about you don't think about oh, I got a new camera, the lcd brightness is set to default. G I seem to remember three years ago setting my d three ass to something different than to fall, so there's definitely a learning curve like they're just send your stuff off to somebody new and be like, just look at my website and make it look like that, right? Because you've gotta kind of get in there and roll around with the work and get to know it. And you do that with all of the new clients that you take you and it's kind of like, tell me what you're going for here, and you also have to be really careful in our position, not the homogenize your clients because we do work for season, we do work for christmas studios, we do work for some other photographers and they're not producing images that look the same, and they don't want teo homogenize their work. So the work that comes out for susan stripling needs to look like her work and the work that comes out for christmas studios needs to look like that aaron's work, um and that's really important, you know, and then other photographers, for example, I had a photographer that I work with, and when I first got her image is the first wedding that I did for her, she called me and she said, this is too warm, I don't like my images with warm I prefer more neutral look I said I got caught in the pitfall of susan who likes stuff a little warmer on myself I also when I'm dating you with numbers of weddings for year right and when I do my own work you know I tend to prefer things a little warmer and white balance and I needed tio I realized that that's not what she wanted so we changed it and her work is more neutral now in white balance cool do you guys give your photographer specific duties in the field regarding color like colored checkers or sampling white balance is so that when they get the files it's something that they can work on any anything that you say all right be sure to do this this and this when you're out I mean on lea ve a emotional blackmail really you know like oh hey it was a really rough night last night real good with past tired today somebody you didn't use flash during that really dark processional and that was really tough no I mean our job is really to adapt to what the photographers were doing but if it comes to something that I feel is a technical weakness or just something that I think is being overlooked then I will go back and say hey I really think that in this situation you would have been so much better off if you had let the processional if it's permitted maybe you're in a dark church and maybe the priest said no way but maybe you're in a dark church and he doesn't care in which case let your professional because I'm going to be able to make that image look so much more beautiful of the bride and her dad when it's not shot at ten thousand I s I want wanted for we're going teo tomorrow we'll talk about the feedback loop between whether you're giving your own self feedback when you're editing your images or whether someone's doing them for you via outsourcing or in a house that there needs to be a back and forth communication not only when you first get started of what are you looking for and how can I give that to you but how can we keep your work moving on how come we keep you from making stupid mistakes how can I help you and how can you help me so it really is a very beneficial relationship so if you'll come back tomorrow we'll be glad to tell you about that great awesome do you ever come up with different styles or color have you has your editing uh style or request changed through the years or hasn't been pretty you know what when I was talking on day one about the southern california years when everything was very light very bright very hi fi very high contrast color is not found in normal nature right from there, once I changed my method of refining the way that I saw a light that dictated a style change in processing because the way I was using the light wasn't driving with the post production that I was doing so one sort of lead into the other. And since I feel like I really started finding my groovin like, oh, six o seven it's been a very you can look at my work from, oh seven, you could look at it from a way that still has the same feel to it, it's just now, more consistent and more streamlined, and I haven't really changed style in the two years that we've been working together. No, I don't think so, you know, just trying to be better. I'll get there one day, you've done a few different things, things like double exposure or something that you've been playing with fun. Yeah, it's not to say that your work doesn't evolved, but to say that it has changed dramatically. No, I think it's just evolving and to say that it's changed in post not really, I don't think so. I mean, the only thing I can think of is, you know, I think that you used to do a little bit more with see pia. A few years ago, there was a split tone ship this tony feel the way I got that ship is now clear the horizon. Elvis has left the building and we blow him into its mason jar thanks to this lovely dialogue I want to jennifer, can we? I like clothes e I want my own jennifer device that hasn't yet been removed always have been really interesting is that based on when I came into creative live last august and then sidecar post came the day after me, so if you want to hear them talk for six straight hours, they do have their own creative life course, we've actually had a lot of people ask us if we would teach together, so we've actually developed a mentor ship that we're working on that we're actually taking applications for now. It's pretty so yeah, it's kind of our next thing our next date, emotionally is a three month mentorship program. Great, awesome. Yeah. So if you want to find out about it sidecar post online, we do have something on sidecar, post dot com some information about it, and it'll be ninety days with us and with season, and we will answer every tiny little detail question you have? Yeah, so if you need personal attention above and beyond, were working to really be able to bring that to people

Class Materials

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Quicksheet Inside Guide (zip file of individual PDF pages)
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Ratings and Reviews

Misty Angel

oh Susan, you are AWESOME!! I am not a wedding photographer (despite dipping my toe in this intimidating pool for one of my dearest friends), I shoot all forms of portraits and love sports too! Your '30-Days' has been the single most influential and educational moments since I started my venture into photography in 2009! THANK YOU! Your honesty, directness, bluntness, humor and vulnerability makes these 30-Days the most worthwhile time spent away from actual shooting; while simultaneously is the most inspirational motivator to push you out there to practice these ideas/techniques! #SShostestwiththemostest You raise the bar in this industry, not just with wedding photographers, but with all genres of photography! I wanted this course to learn about shooting and thought, great... I'll get a little bit of the business side too... OMG! I got it ALL! I'm dying! What an awesome investment in myself, my business and in YOU! PLEASE keep doing what you are doing! I love your new Dynamic Range, I feel that it is a wonderful extension of the work you do with Creative Live! I watch you EVERY DAY, every morning... I know that I continue absorbing your wisdom through repetition! I don't want to be you, I want to rise to your level! So thank you for the inspiration, motivation and aspiration! Keep on being REAL, its what we love about you! We embrace your Chanel meets Alexander McQueen-ness! :) Thank you for stepping into this educational space and providing us with your lessons learned so we can avoid the negative-time investment making mistakes... we are drinking your virtual lemonade!! HA! Like the others, whatever wisdom you offer in this medium, I will be jumping at the opportunity to learn from you! THANK YOU!


All the positive reviews say it all. When Susan took on the challenge of teaching this course it must of looked like attempting to climb Mount Everest...and she accomplished just that. Susan is a detailed, well-organized photographer and this clearly comes out in her teaching. Using repetition, clear instructions, a logical and well laid out presentation, she answers most any question you might have when it comes to wedding photography. I felt like I was having a private consultation when watching the course. She is real, honest, tactful, funny, and a gift to the photography community. Finally, her photography is professional and inspiring. Thank you Susan for the tremendous amount of work that you put into making this an outstanding Creative Live course for us all.


Wow. What a super, comprehensive, entertaining, informative course. Well done. I've taking a lot of photography classes and this one is definitely top of the list. Susan Stripling was very well prepared (and great job by the CreativeLive Team too). Terrific course. Susan shared so much. Thank you! P.S. Love the CL boot camp courses.

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