A Peek Inside My Process: The BEST Culling Tips for Boudoir Photographers
What’s the most tedious part of your boudoir photography biz? Is it scheduling and booking? Or sending out invoices? Is it the selling sessions themselves?
For a lot of photographers, all of the above are true, but I think something that a lot of people don’t think about streamlining is the culling and order session prep part of the process. I mean, think about it…
You get back from a photography session, you’re exhausted and overwhelmed by the amount of work ahead of you. And in those moments, you may find yourself wondering, “Why did I decide to become a photographer again?”
I get it. But over the years, I’ve figured out how to streamline that process so it’s not super daunting and helps you walk away with a great in-person sales session at the end.
So today, I’m going to show you my system for narrowing down that culling and prep session down to just 10 minutes. These are my BEST culling tips for boudoir photographers of any skill level!
Let’s dig in!
Tip #1: Don’t Overshoot
When you’re in the moment, it’s hard not to get click-happy. But something I see a lot of photographers struggle with is taking too many photos.
They wind up with HUNDREDS of options when the reality is only a small portion of those are going to make it to the final sales session. Much less actually get purchased.
We want clients to have options, yes, but you also don’t want to create more work for yourself.
So how do you do that? It’s all in the posing.
Pose the client. Take two photos in that pose, then move on. And work your way through every pose in the session this way. You don’t need 20 photos of one pose in the same spot!
To put it into perspective, for a one-hour session, I average between 150-200 images and then end up showing my clients between 60-90 photos at their ordering session. Now, that number will differ for YOU and how long the sessions are, etc., but it just goes to show you that you don’t have to overwhelm yourself to make a sale.
Tip #2: Remove Blinks, Blurries, and Dupes
So here is really where my culling process begins. Once I have all the photos from the session uploaded to my computer, I take it to round one and start cutting any pictures where the client is blinking, where the photos are blurry, and any duplicates.
It’s a simple step, but cutting that out from the start will make the process of choosing what to show the client during the in-person sale session MUCH easier. You’ll have a smaller pool to choose from and can feel confident that you’re only showing them the best of the best.
To get this done in 10 minutes, I put all my notifications on silent and sit down to tackle the whole thing in one sitting. Because 10 minutes of full-focus time can get MORE accomplished than an hour with distractions.
Tip #3: Run Through Your Image Selection Twice
The next thing I do is select the actual photos I want to show my clients. I check to make sure there aren’t any duplicates (again), and that there is a good variety of poses and expressions. This makes it much easier for the client to choose what to order during their in-person sales session.
Then, I look through everything one more time to make sure I’m happy with my selection and that they’re ready to show the client.
Tip #4: Copy and Paste Your Settings When Color Correcting
Now, I don’t edit my photos before the ordering session (more on that later) but I do color-correct to give them a nice, professional finish. And the way I keep this step simple is to just copy and paste my settings onto each photo.
That means I only color-correct once, and then this process only takes me a few minutes to finish. Then I run through everything once again to make sure it’s good to go!
Tip #5: Don’t Try to Be Perfect
Remember — this entire process is supposed to be simple. I only color-correct for editing, and even then, it’s still not perfect. Why do I do it this way?
I don’t want to waste my time retouching photos that will never be purchased. My time is way too valuable for that (and so is yours). And no, it doesn’t hurt sales. Because if you showcase your work in your portfolio, your clients will see what they’re getting.
I haven’t retouched an image before an ordering session since 2016 — and my boudoir photography business still brings in six figures plus per year. I promise, you’ll be fine!
Tip #6: Export Your Photos From Lightroom to Save Storage Space
The final step of my quick culling guide is exporting and removing the images from Lightroom. Now, I know everyone has their own system for storing their images, so definitely take what I’m saying here with a grain of salt.
But early in my career, I filled up my computer because I wasn’t using an external hard drive. I didn’t know any better! (Side note: If you don’t have one, get one! You’re definitely going to need it).
I learned from my mistakes, and now I keep all of my images in a folder sorted by the year of the session on three different external hard drives.
And that’s why the final step is to export and remove your images from Lightroom — so you don’t use all your computer storage with your Lightroom catalog.
Again, I know there are so many different ways you can do this, but I like my system and this works for me!
Save Even More Time With These Posing and Lighting Tips!
So now you know how to streamline the culling process and my best culling tips for boudoir photographers.
Did you know you can save EVEN MORE time by rocking the photography session? If you know how to work that lighting and use it to your advantage, plus add in some posing know-how, you’ll have one very efficient system.