How to Cull an Entire Wedding in Just One Hour

Yep, you read that title right! Some of you are going to read it and not even believe that it’s possible. But I’m here to teach all about how I cull all of my weddings in just one hour (or less) and the program I use to do it!

For anyone who may not know, “culling” is simply the process of selecting which images you want to keep and deliver to your client. This process can take HOURS especially when you are having to sort through thousands of RAW files from a wedding day. So, I want to break down the process that I use to cull my images to help you cut back on this workflow! When I started implementing these techniques it gave me my LIFE back… and blew clients away with quick turnaround times and beautiful galleries!

One of the pieces of this process that can take the longest is actually letting each RAW file LOAD. When you are using a program like Lightroom or Bridge, it takes a few seconds for each image to load to ensure they are in focus. This means you are actually spending half of your culling workflow just waiting for an image to finish rendering!

Image: Hope Taylor Photography

So, let me introduce you to a program called Photo Mechanic. This program is created specifically for the culling process. Instead of taking a few seconds for each RAW file to load, it shows you a JPEG version of the image that INSTANTLY renders. This means you can click through the images as FAST as you want to, and the program already has everything loaded for you!

Another one of the amazing benefits of Photo Mechanic is that it works with Lightroom (my editing software!) to only import images that I have selected to edit. So, I am saving TONS of room on my hard drive within my Lightroom catalogues. This means Lightroom actually RUNS faster and I don’t have to go back and delete unnecessary RAW files, making my culling and post-processing workflow that much faster!

I’m not getting paid to talk about Photo Mechanic…I truly just love it that much! But, aside from having this amazing program, here are 3 tips to speed up your culling workflow for your next wedding gallery:

  1. Don’t focus on the numbers

    While it’s likely that you have told your client a specific number of images they can expect from you, don’t worry about that exact number during your culling process! Instead, click through and select every image that you want to keep—even if it’s more than what your client is expecting! This will prevent you from taking a ton of extra time to go back and forth between images to cull down to a specific number. You can go back to fix this later, but I always over-deliver extra images to my clients—it will make them feel so loved!

  2. Don’t keep everything

    So, you don’t want to focus on the numbers, but you also don’t want us to keep everything. What the heck, Hope? Let me explain what I mean by this! It can be easy if you are in a hurry to just click “select” on any image that is in focus… even if it’s a duplicate, unflattering, not representative of your photography style, etc. Instead, try to only keep the BEST images from each set. Don’t keep duplicates of the same pose unless there is a variation, And, if the lighting is questionable or your client doesn’t look flattering, ditch it!

  3. Remember that you can delete more later

    Even after I cull an entire session and move it into Lightroom, I still tend to delete a few pictures later on! Maybe I’m in the middle of editing and notice I chose way too many images in one outfit compared to another. That’s okay! Just delete any extras that you notice later on. You don’t have to cull perfectly on the first try!

From the very beginning of my business at age 17, I knew the value of my time and the importance of efficient workflows. I began my business as a high school senior, meaning I had very few hours for my business outside of homework and college applications. On top of having minimal hours available to work each week, I was working hard to build a business in a very saturated market. This is where Two Bright Lights came in for me! I wanted to build my business quickly through strategic marketing that didn’t take hours of my time or thousands of dollars. With TBL, I was able to submit my work for publication quickly and easily to build my business and gain new clients!

Photo Mechanic and Two Bright Lights are just two of the incredible programs that allow for speed, simplicity and efficiency in my business – and have since the very beginning! Implementing these types of workflows in my business has been monumental in my growth as a business owner, and in my work-life balance outside of photography. Plus: If you’re interested in joining Two Bright Lights, use my code: HOPETAYLOR for 15% off a new or upgraded annual subscription!

Want to see more of how I use Photo Mechanic in my business? Check out this free educational video to watch me cull an entire session!


Hope Taylor is an international wedding photographer, educator and speaker based in Fredericksburg, VA. Check out her website or catch up with her on instagram: @hopetaylorphotography!

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3 Comments

  1. Photo Mechanic is a must for any wedding photographer or photojournalist who shoots in bulk. Thanks for sharing. For those of you hyped about the time savings just keep in mind that this will all depend on how many photos you’re culling. That’s affected by hours of coverage, number of photographers, even the size of a wedding party will bloat the photo count.

    If you’re a single shooter with one camera body and don’t shoot in bursts often then an hour is more than enough time to cull. We’re a two photographer team who shoots a lot of journalism, think bursts of 5+ frames through different moments and we end up with 5-6000 photos to cull through at the end of a 10-11 hour day. If you do the division in seconds and only spend 1 second considering any given photo then your first cull in Photo Mechanic would take 100 minutes, over an hour and a half. That’s being conservative. I probably spend a little more than a second per photo and about 2-3 hours on my first pass before I import into lightroom. Just throwing some more estimates out there FWIW. If you’re not using PM though then you need to get on it!

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