Why does editing take forever? Here are 6 possible reasons and how to fix them.


So many photographers at the beginning of their business or interest in photography love editing. They love learning Lightroom and learning about how to go in and make changes to their photos that will really help their images come to life!

But after a while the exhilaration of learning something new, partnered with the stresses of inevitably getting busier and busier and having more and more sessions to edit, the job of finalizing your photos becomes a time suck and a major stressor.

Some photographers really really enjoy the editing process even after years of their business but a lot feel like the process and time involved is not enjoyable and they begin to dread it.

There are a few obvious solutions to this problem.

First, outsource your editing. Get it off your plate. If you don’t even want to read the rest of this post and are like, “YES that’s what I need to do!” then just click here, I can most likely help.

Second, you can learn some techniques to become a faster and more efficient editor. That’s what we are going to be talking about today!

Why does photo editing take so long? Cinnamon Wolfe, private photo editor for wedding photographers

Why does editing take so long and how to fix it

  1. Mindset

One very surprising thing that becoming a private editor for other photographers has taught me is that it is about 1000x times easier to edit for someone else.

As a photographer, you are experiencing EVERYTHING that goes on during the process of getting those photographs. From getting the client booked, to the session or wedding itself, you are involved from A to Z and all of those thoughts/feelings/experiences had during that process come along for the ride.

You take ALL of this into the editing process. If there was a slight misunderstanding in the booking process that led to some awkwardness, to the shot you missed on the wedding day or the light that you didn’t catch because the bride’s sister was taking too long, to the upset Aunt of the Groom because you weren’t paying attention to her photo requests during family formals.

All of this goes into the editing process and can have a major effect on how you approach your editing.

There are a couple of solutions to this:

  • Give yourself grace and understand that maybe the session was hard, the situation wasn’t ideal and you did the absolute best you could. NO ONE will know about shots you didn’t get that you wanted to except for you. Your clients are looking at your images from a totally different viewpoint and one that is probably a lot kinder and nicer than you are imagining in your head. Give them the benefit of the doubt and try to stop being so hard on yourself.

  • Outsource. There are other solutions below that you personally can implement if outsourcing is not in your budget, but this is the absolute best way to get out from underneath the emotional attachment that comes with editing your own images.

Looking to hire an editor? Let’s chat!

Why does photo editing take so long? How can I speed up my photo editing?

2. Systems

Approaching your editing without a system in place is like trying to take a European vacation without any sort of research. You are going to spend way more time on the back end trying to figure things out in some other language you aren’t familiar with instead of working for less time on the front end to plan properly.

Making sure you have a system for organizing your images on your hard drive, backing up those images, culling and importing those images and then a system for going through and editing the images once they are in Lightroom WILL take you a good amount of time in the beginning. But ultimately this time spent will save you 10x the time on the backend as you progress throughout your business.

Sitting down to a messy hard drive, a messy catalog and never knowing where to find things when you need them is costing you HOURS of time you could be spending on revenue generating activities for your business.

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3. Overshooting

I know I know...this is  tough one to swallow because so many of us have just accepted the fact that we overshoot and we just “deal with it”.

But if we can make a conscious effort every single time we put that camera to our face to slow down and be more methodical with our shooting, the amount of time spent after the fact in culling and editing is going to be drastically reduced. We need to stop being so worried that we won’t get the perfect shot and so therefore we take 5000 images when in reality we are serving our couples really well with 2000 images. Shooting just to shoot more doesn’t serve you or your couples well.

How to become faster at editing your wedding photos

4. Bad shooting

Look, I get it. Standing in front of clients and directing them, making sure your settings are correct, getting into good light, wanting to come across confident in your choices and not spending any time during a session to stop and think for a minute for fear of looking like you don’t know what you are doing...is CRAZY HARD YA’ll. I know, I dealt with all of those things for years.

But remembering that clients are likely NOT thinking that if you aren’t shooting every second that you aren’t a good photographer and no one is paying attention in that much detail to what you are doing.

You are the professional and people trust that. Taking the time to think through what you want to do, what light you want to go in, what settings will work best for the situation….all of that leads to amazing images your clients are going to LOVE and they are not going to be thinking about how it took you 3 minutes to set up the shot instead of 1.

Pinky swear.

Making sure you are doing everything in your power to get things really, really right in camera will DRASTICALLY reduce your time spent in Lightroom or Photoshop after the fact. Practice this at every session. Focus on one thing at a time that will help you to get better images straight out of camera.

5. Overthinking

Second guessing every change you make on an image is not doing you any favors.

While styles and tastes in editing will progress and change over time, if you pay attention in Lightroom and feel like you have a good handle on your style, there is no need to continually mess with images you are delivering to clients.

Maybe you can continue to play around with editing styles etc on past sessions you have already delivered, but stressing over every single exposure bump or reduction in blacks or slight tweak to the tone curve is only going to cause you continued frustration.

At some point in our business we need to realize and understand that our clients book us, trust us and love us based on so much more than the exact, final quality of their images. WE can see the differences, they can’t. Spend your time WOW’ing your clients in other ways aside from stressing out over if your images are “perfect”. Photography is so subjective that reaching perfection is pretty much impossible.

becoming faster at editing your wedding photos

6. Slow software

This one is a huge problem and one that is easily fixed. If your Lightroom is bogged down and taking forever to load previews or make changes there are a few things you can do to make sure it's working blazing fast.

  • First, if you are working in ONE main catalog, switch it up. Make one catalog per year or per session/wedding. When Lightroom is only having to read the info/data from one set of images, it will work much quicker than when it’s trying to render/read thousands of RAW images.

  • Second, create smart previews for everything and unplug your RAW images while you are working. If Lightroom only has to read the smaller smart previews files instead of the giant sized RAW images everything will work smoother.

  • Third, make sure your software is up to date as well as your computer that you are working on. Make a habit of cleaning out old files and applications that you no longer use to make sure your system has plenty of working space to keep things moving quickly.