How to Edit Wedding Photos

Worried about how your wedding photos will turn out? Learn more about how your photos will be edited and what to expect throughout the process.

By The Zola Team

How to Edit Wedding Photos
Photo by Zola

Though you will likely remember every detail of your big day, your wedding photos are important keepsakes that you are sure to cherish for years to come. So, it’s not surprising that many couples worry about how to ensure they get the best quality photography possible. This is made even more difficult due to the fact that you will not see your wedding photography until long after your big day has occurred. (Learn more on how long wedding photos take to get back.)

While you may think that editing your own photos will help overcome this problem, that's probably unnecessary—plus, it’s extremely time-consuming. Here, we’ll break down all the details, so you end up with your dream wedding photos.

Editing Wedding Photos

How to Edit Wedding Photos | Zola Photo Credit // Unsplash

If you’re wondering how to edit your wedding photos, don’t. Though you may want—or need—to do some light editing on your own (think cropping an image to size) using simple tools like the Zola Photo Editor, you should leave most of the editing to your professional photographer.

Nearly all wedding photographers take care of the editing process for you, sending you the final images when they are done. However, each professional photographer has their own style and techniques. While they will work with you to ensure you are getting the specific shots you want and may consider any style elements you desire, it’s difficult for a photographer to do something completely different from what they usually do. Instead, it’s best if you focus on finding a photographer whose style matches the aesthetic you want in your wedding photography, then provide them with a list of shots you want them to capture.

What’s Your Style?

The first step in finding the right photographer is understanding the different styles and trends of wedding photography. These aesthetics will ultimately determine how your photographer edits the final images from your big day. As you look for a vendor to work with, make sure you understand these styles, so you can ask the right questions when vetting a photographer.

  • Traditional: These photos are usually posed and consist of classic wedding group shots. The photographer will often be involved in directing those in the photos, and final editing and retouching will be minimal.
  • Photojournalistic: This style allows the photographer to take a more informal approach to capturing the events of your big day. However, they will often pair this style with some traditional shots as well. Resembling documentary photos, this style requires a lot of creativity and quick camera adjustments to produce beautiful images. When editing, the photographer may enhance some aspects of the photo to draw attention to certain areas. The result is real and natural photos of genuinely candid moments.
  • Illustrative: This style of wedding photography emphasizes composition, lighting, and background. The photographer will often pose the subjects “candidly” in picturesque settings for a unique blend of traditional and photojournalistic aesthetics. During editing, the photographer may enhance colors and the structure of the background scenery. Resulting images will appear spontaneous and effortless.
  • Fine Art: This style uses creative framing, composition, lighting, and post-production techniques to create unique images. There is no real posing involved in this style of photography, though your photographer may rearrange items in the frame to achieve the desired composition. Typically, this style is used more for detail shots, like a close up of the dress, rather than key photos, such as wedding party portraits.
  • Vintage: An increasingly popular style due to the rise in vintage-themed weddings, this style of photography uses color distortion filters in the editing process to evoke feelings of nostalgia. Often, this involves muting the colors in the image and incorporating a mild sepia overlay.
  • Light and Airy: Another increasingly popular wedding photography style is light and airy. Like the vintage style, this aesthetic is primarily achieved during the editing process. To create these images, your photographer will use natural light when taking the photos and then increase the brightness during the editing process. They may also desaturate the colors slightly to achieve an airy effect. The outcome is a clean and natural image.

It’s important to recognize that some styles are achieved in the way the photo is initially taken, while other aesthetics are created during the editing process. As a result, a photographer may combine techniques.

Finding the Right Photographer

How to Edit Wedding Photos | Zola Photo Credit // Unsplash

Once you have a clear understanding of the style of photos you want for your big day, it’s time to find the right photographer. Thanks to social media and other tools, like Zola’s Vendor Search, this is a lot easier than you might think. Here are four easy steps to finding the perfect photographer for your style of wedding photos:

1. Research Your Options Start by creating a list of photographers that look like they might be a good fit. This can include people you’ve found on social media, like Instagram or Pinterest, listings on Zola, and personal recommendations you’ve received from friends and family. Then take some time to thoroughly research each, looking at the style and personality of their photos, as well as reviews or testimonials. Narrow down your list to your top three or four choices.

2. Schedule Interviews After you’ve made your top selections, reach out to each photographer to gauge availability and set up an interview. Use this time to ask them questions about their style and editing process. You will also want to share some details about your wedding day venue, wedding style or theme, and what you envision for your photos.

3. Review Their Work If you feel like it’s a good fit, ask your potential photographer to share some wedding album designs to review the details of their work. As you look through these albums, pay attention to the style of the photos, the types of images they took, and the specific moments they captured. This will give you a more well-rounded view of their work, so you know exactly what to expect when working with them.

4. Discuss Post-Production Details Depending on how busy the photographer is and the type of editing they do on your photos, you should expect to wait anywhere from three to 12 weeks for your final images. This is because most wedding photographers shoot raw images, rather than your typical JPEG files, which allows them greater flexibility in editing the final images. However, these files also take much longer to upload. Discuss these details with your photographer, so you know what to expect, including how many images you will receive, when you will be able to see proofs, how proofs will be retouched, and if you will be able to have prints made yourself. This ensures that you are both on the same page about how the process will go, minimizing any problems down the road.

Finding the right photographer will ensure that you do not need to know how to edit wedding photos, while still getting the beautiful images you desire. Rather than worrying about how you might modify the images yourself, focus on nailing the overall style and aesthetic for your wedding photos. This will help you in your search for the perfect photographer for your special day. If you need some extra help finding a photographer that matches your budget and style, Zola vets each vendor we place on our directory so that you can find trusted wedding photographers from Miami, FL to Cincinnati, OH and everything in between.

Find Your Wedding Vendors at Zola, All Pre-Screened for You