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How to Cut Your Culling Time in Half or More | Photography Workflow Series Part 5

How to Cut Culling Time in Half
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How to Cut Culling Time in Half

I remember when I first started out in my business, I literally had to block an entire DAY off to cull my weddings. It literally took me almost a full 8 hours to cull. I couldn’t focus. I was overwhelmed.  I was slow. And I was using Lightroom to do it. JUST DON’T DO IT.  I highly recommend using Photo Mechanic for your culling. I’ll write a whole post about it another day but I couldn’t leave ya without that bit of knowledge before moving on to today’s tip.

After I implemented this tip (and a few others that will make this email into a novel so I’ll save them for another day) I was am able to get my weddings culled in aboutttt 30 minutes.  To be honest, I’m usually done culling before I even leave the wedding. So today, I’m going to share what I do to cut your culling time in half or more.

Photographers: How to Cut Your Culling Time in Half!

Drumroll: Culling backwards!

I learned this one when I was working at a commercial studio and all the photographers used to take dozens of test shots to test the lighting.  When they went to give me the final shots to edit (I was a photo editor there) they would just pick the last photo in the bunch cause they knew that was the winning shot! *Face palm moment*

If you’re anything like me, you probably do the same whether it’s testing white balance, exposure, poses, detail shots etc.  (It might not be 30 test shots but it may be 5 or so! Especially with invitation shots, I always take it crooked the first like 8 times ha! Is this just me?)

The last shot is always the best because after I nail it, I move onto the next! So culling backwards means you’re getting your best shot first and then can skip the rest of that same pose or detail layout.  

This happens a lot especially with wedding party pictures! If I have the wedding party throw their hands up to celebrate, the first few shots someone is almost always blocking someone’s face.  Once I fix the problem that’s when I nail the shot and that’s always the last in the set.

If I were to cull forwards, I’d probably “choose” the first image to go into the final gallery, then realize I had a better one 5 shots later and then have to click back 5 photos to unselect the first image I picked and then go forwards to get back to where I was! When you’re going through 4000 images even if that only happened 50 times that a LOT of back and forth culling that’s unnecessary.

So I don’t know what this step looks like for you but for me, this used to take almost a full day.  Literally 28 days of my year (for 28 weddings) would have been spent culling if I didn’t systematize it.  Now- if you multiplied the time I spent culling 28 weddings in a year it would only amount to a little less that 2 days of my life! So there alone I saved 26 days by systemizing this.

And I am not the only one! Two girls who learned my FULL culling system (this is just a small aprt of it) said this:

“After learning Laura’s culling system, I was able to cull my entire wedding in 30 minutes!! Seriously 30 minutes!!” – Marquette M.

And Sara O. said “In just the first go around of learning Laura’s system, I culled my entire wedding in 1/3 of the time it usually takes me and had the whole gallery delivered to my client in record time.”

Crazy right? There’s a lot more to my photography workflow system, but this is sure to save you a ton of time on your next wedding or session! Try this out and let me know how it goes!

And, if you’ve made it down here, THANK YOU! I have a free gift for you!

Click the image below to get my free workflow guide:

“10 Workflow Hacks for Photographers to Instantly Get Ahead of your To-Do List!”

If you’ve missed the previous post (HOW TO CREATE EXPORT PRESETS IN LIGHTROOM | PHOTOGRAPHY WORKFLOW SERIES #4), click here to catch up!

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  1. Marco says:

    Genius! Wish I’d thought of this myself.

  2. Thanks for the terrific post

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