How to Prep Wedding Images for Outsourcing

Oct 20, 2021 | Editing

how to prepare wedding photos for outsourcing

You’re ready to jump onboard and outsource your photo editing. Congrats! It’s a huge step in giving yourself back more time to work on your business, and not just in your business.

Since this is your first time outsourcing your photo editing, you may be wondering how to prepare your files to send to your editor. I’m here to help you walk you through the steps of preparing your files for outsourcing.

Here are six simple steps to follow to prepare your files for outsourcing.


I recommend culling in a program called PhotoMechanic. Why? PhotoMechanic is built for culling quickly. Once you open PhotoMechanic, your raw files will render fast – as compared to Lightroom which can take a while to render which slows down the culling process.

When it comes to culling, I recommend “culling in” which means that you only choose images that you want to keep, rather than choosing files to “keep” and to “toss”. I’ve found that it’s faster to make one decision: choosing what to keep.

Once you’ve done an initial cull through the entire gallery, you may want to take a second look to eliminate any duplicates, photos with closed eyes, or photos that are out of focus.


After culling your gallery, import your images into Lightroom Classic. Be sure that you are using the Desktop version of Lightroom. (Sidenote: If you’re a subscriber to the Adobe Creative Cloud, Adobe has made it kind of confusing by renaming the different versions of Lightroom. The fully-featured version that you’re probably familiar with is Lightroom Classic.)

Go to File — Import Photos.

You’ll select the gallery you’re importing into Lightroom. Choose Build Standard Previews. You can set any setting in the right hand panel. Then, import the gallery.

Depending on how large your gallery is, this is where you can walk away, get a snack, or catch up on email while Lightroom imports.


If you’re outsourcing your photo editing, your private photo editor will need what are called “anchor images” or pre-edited photos. I recommend that your favorite photos are your anchor images.

You can choose your favorite photos by tagging photos in a color or with a star rating. Your private photo editor may have a preference for how to distinguish favorites, so please check with them.

I recommend choosing about 10% of your gallery as favorites. While you may not use all of them for your blog or social media, editing about 10% of the gallery helps your private photo editor tremendously, especially if there is a tricky lighting situation.


Once your have chosen your favorite photos for blogging and/or social media, go ahead and edit your favorites.

Edit as you would any other set of photos, using your presets and adjusting settings depending on the lighting.

Since you are outsourcing your editing, you only need to edit these favorites. Yes – you’re only editing about 10% of your gallery! Doesn’t that sound great!?


After editing your favorite photos to provide as “anchor images” for your private editor, you’re going to export your gallery as a Lightroom catalog.

This is typically the step that trips up most photographers. Unless you’ve exchanged files with a private photo editor or with another photographer, you may not have ever exported a catalog before.

That’s okay! It’s a super easy process, and once you’ve exported a Lightroom catalog a couple of times, it will become second nature.

You’re going to select all the files in your gallery – whether it’s a single photo shoot or full wedding day.

File — Export as Catalog

Once the dialog box pops up, you’ll set a location to save your catalog, and you can name the file.

Be sure to check the boxes “Build Smart Previews”.

Uncheck the box “Export Negative Files”

Click “Export”

Ta-da! You’ve just exported your first Lightroom catalog.

If you’ve done it correctly, you will have a main folder with two files inside: catalogname.lrcat and catalogname.lrdata – you’ll need to have both files in order for Smart Previews to work.

I recommend exporting your Lightroom catalog to your desktop hard drive rather than straight to your Dropbox folder. I’ve found that waiting to transfer your files to Dropbox can help prevent file loss/corruption.


Now that you’ve exported a Lightroom catalog of your photo gallery, you will need to upload it to Dropbox for your private photo editor.

I highly recommend using the Dropbox Desktop App to transfer your files versus uploading it through the Dropbox website.

If you are using the Dropbox Desktop App, you can drag and drop the folder with your catalog files into the Dropbox folder you share with your private photo editor.

*If you are uploading to Dropbox through the website, for best results, PLEASE ZIP YOUR EXPORTED FOLDER before uploading.*

That’s it! It’s as simple as that to prepare your files for outsourcing to a private photo editor.

It’s important that you review your private photo editor’s workflow with them before getting started. Their workflow may differ from my own.

If you’re ready to explore working with a private photo editor to outsource your photo editing, click here to schedule a free consultation!


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