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How to find the perfect wedding photographer: viewing your photos 

click to enlarge A typical contact sheet of edited wedding images. This is from Joy and Michael's wedding day. They had an intimate ceremony in North Cheyenne Canon Park. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • A typical contact sheet of edited wedding images. This is from Joy and Michael's wedding day. They had an intimate ceremony in North Cheyenne Canon Park.
Your wedding day is over. All of the planning and preparation has paid off, and you’re now married to the person of your dreams. Basking in the glow of that unforgettable day during your honeymoon, you or your spouse will inevitably declare: “I can’t wait to see the pictures!”

If you’ve chosen the right wedding photographer, viewing the photographs should be easy and fun to do.

Rather than handing you several thousand unedited photographs on a DVD for you to painstakingly plow through, a professional photographer will create an edited portfolio and present it to you either online, in hardcopy form or both.

Editing and Organizing Your Photographs
click to enlarge Joy and Michael along Gold Camp Road on their wedding day. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Joy and Michael along Gold Camp Road on their wedding day.
First, your photographer will make an initial edit of your pictures and remove all the pictures that aren’t technically or aesthetically up to snuff. The resulting edited takes will be the best images from your wedding — anywhere between 600 and 1,500 images.

Next, they will organize the wedding images in a way that will make sense to you. For example, I typically use the following categories: bride prep, groom prep, family portraits, ceremony, and the reception.

Each category will hold 100 images or more, depending on how many photographs your photographer included in the edit.

The next step in the process may be different depending on the photographer. But in the case of Cayton Photography, we go through the images and selectively retouch those that need it. Perhaps the color balance is off or there is a dust spot from the camera. Whatever it is, we try to catch it before giving the final portfolio to the wedding couple.
click to enlarge Michael holds Joy's wedding bouquet. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Michael holds Joy's wedding bouquet.
Photographers may also want you to see what their favorites from your wedding day. I always make a selection of the photographs I like best and present them in the first category of the wedding portfolio. I call this group my signature collection. We also take some extra time to enhance these pictures using Photoshop.

A brief note about Photoshop: It’s a tool, just like the camera I use. I use Photoshop to make an image stronger, usually through a series of vignettes or filters or both. The changes are not meant to be noticed. The goal is to “finish” the picture without taking away from the image itself.

Delivery Options
click to enlarge Joy and Michael in Tunnel #1 along Gold Camp Road on their wedding day. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Joy and Michael in Tunnel #1 along Gold Camp Road on their wedding day.
Today, most photographers deliver the wedding portfolio online — we use an online presentation software that allows us to display individual portfolios in a password-protected gallery — and gives newlyweds a wide range of options to choose from.

The gallery should allow couples to place orders, select images for their albums, email images to friends and family, view slideshows, and even view different toning options for a picture.

Other photographers present portfolios on CD, DVD, or as 4×6 prints. Whatever way your photographer delivers your portfolio, however, it should be edited, organized and presented in a way that makes it easy and enjoyable to view.

Next: Creating your wedding album.

Sean Cayton is a wedding photojournalist of 19 years and operates a successful, award-winning wedding photography studio in Colorado Springs. He's also an award-winning photojournalist. Sean is happily married to the love of his life (also his business partner) and is father to three beautiful children. When he’s not working, Sean can be found outside flying kites with his kids, hitting golf balls or casting a fly rod to hungry trout

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