2022 Narrative International Photography Awards
By Mark from Shotkit
We live in amazing times as professional photographers.
Our cameras are packed full of incredible technology to make taking photos easier than ever before.
Online marketing and SEO means that hitting the streets or attending fairs to find the next client is a thing of the past.
And the software… oh the software! Our secret weapon to getting our photos looking amazing and into our clients’ hands in as little time and effort as possible.
That said, it still amazes me how many wedding photographers haven’t yet seen the light when it comes to harnessing all the benefits of AI in their workflows.
Many of us have our heads buried so deep in the abyss of our Lightroom catalogs that we’re missing out on the great AI-revolution that’s erupting around us.
Artificial Intelligence sounds like a scary topic, especially for anyone like me who grew up watching The Terminator.
However, when you realise that AI is much more than cybernetic organisms sent back from the future, you can start embracing it as the huge cybernetic helping hand that it is!
Here are 3 key ways that I’ve been using AI-powered software to help speed up my wedding photography workflow this year.
Right off the bat, this choice might surprise you. After all, aren’t we all using Lightroom to edit our photos? Well, yes and no, actually.
Adobe Lightroom is the shiz for batch editing photos, applying presets and all that other jazz us wedding photographers need to do on a daily basis.
However, in terms of magical AI super-powers, our old pal Lightroom is a little behind the times.
In steps Luminar Neo, the new cocky kid on the block for the YouTube instant-click generation.
I dive deep into all its features in my Luminar Neo review on Shotkit, but the two things that help me the most as a wedding photographer are the sky replacement tool and the batch face light tool.
The sky replacement tool does exactly what it says on the tin, and can be a great way to engage cheat-mode when you’ve gone to all the trouble to get that epic ‘small-couple-big-landscape’ shot… only for the sky to be a complete let down.
This happened to me while shooting a destination wedding in France, standing on top of my hire car to get the right perspective. (Gotta love hire cars!!)
We couldn’t be there at the right time of day, but a couple of clicks later in Neo and the photo is realistically transformed. Did the client notice? Nope. Would they even care if they did? Doubtful.
Yes, I know the car’s shadow no longer really makes sense with the new lighting, but it’s still pretty impressive how the rest of the scene has been relit and recoloured to suit the mood - all this in literally one click!
Playing God and swapping skies might not be everyone’s cup of tea - as a documentary-style wedding photographer, I get that.
However, this next feature can be used by anyone, and it’s a huge timesaver.
It’s best explained in this video, but it basically allows you to relight the faces in a photo, then copy/paste the edits ‘intelligently’ to any subsequent photo of a similar scene.
Here, Face AI is identifying the faces in your shot, allowing you to adjust their exposure en masse with one slippery slide of the slider, then copy/paste those same edits onto the next photo, even if the subjects’ faces have completely changed position! Mind:blown.
You can also do some fun things with Layers (overlays), such as applying lens flares and the like, but before you start questioning my abilities as a wedding photographer (too late?!), I’ll leave it there for now.
One flare later…
Gigapixel is another fancy AI-powered software you’ve probably never heard of that lets you upscale your images with minimal quality degradation.
Yes, it does take its sweet-ass time to process the image (see our Gigapixel review), but when it’s done, the results are amazing.
Side note: Photoshop does a pretty decent job of this too, and unless you pixel-peep, it’s hard to see the difference… but when faces are involved in the scene, as they too often are for us wedding ‘togs, Gigapixel is way better.
So, where d'ya think I’m using Gigapixel AI in my wedding workflow? You guessed it - the thing we love to hate… building wedding albums!
I shoot with a Sony aIII, and before that a Nikon D750 - both mid 20 megapixel cameras, which is, in my humble opinion, the sweet-spot for wedding photographers who try and get it right in camera.
(My pet peeve - wedding photographers who crop every photo coz they were too lazy to get the composition right the first time! #Facepalm)
Anyway, 24-ish MP doesn’t leave me much room for those double-page album spreads. ‘Your photo has insufficient resolution, anyone?
In walks Topaz Gigapixel, with a smug grin and some AI-awesomeness that allows me to upscale my itty-bitty photo as big as I goddamn please!
40” double-page wedding spread? DONE! What, you want that on the side of a building too? DONESKI!!
So yeah, Gigapixel is the shiz. Check it out.
Wow, I really teased this one out didn’t I?! Being on home Narrative turf, it’s time to say some nice things about my hosts…
I feel like I might be preaching to the converted here, but Narrative Select is a game-changer when it comes to image culling.
Once you’ve imported your RAWs, Select uses its ‘smart tech’ to whizz through your images, assessing them based on whether it thinks the photo is a keeper or a deleter, destined for the virtual scrap heap.
The Close-ups panel zooms you in to double-check its out-of-focus and closed-eye assessments - no more clicking and panning around in Lightroom - a painful experience for finding the blinkers in enormous group shots.
Image: Jacquelyn Portolese for Shotkit
Using the mysterious AI culling wizardry in Select means that you’re viewing 20-30% fewer images per shoot, meaning you can get from import to develop much quicker than before.
(Side note: my record from import to client delivery: 1.5 hours. #humblebrag)
You can read more about Narrative Select in our review right here.
So there you have it. 3 ways you could use AI to aid your wedding photography workflow this year, and we didn’t even mention AI photo editing!
If this blog had comments I’d be asking you what AI tools you use, but since it doesn’t, I bid you adieu and happy shooting!