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For the past many years, it has become very common for newlyweds to receive the digital files of their wedding photos.  More and more, we have couples who only want the digital files and have no use for any sort of tangible printed products (prints, albums, proof books, etc…).  While I don’t think it’s the best idea to forego printed photographs, I totally understand where people are coming from  on this issue.  It seems most couples intend to take care of their own printing and cut out the middleman (as much as I hate to admit that we are the middlemen). Now how many people ever get around to doing so is open to debate, but one thing we can agree on is that you will have a lot of digital files to deal with.

It’s common for us to deliver 1,000 plus images from a longish wedding day.  We deliver high res JPEGs most of the time, so that will come close to 4 gigs of image files.  What to do with all these images?  I have some ideas…

First thing, back up your files!  While we do not ever delete your pictures, things can happen. Hard drives fail, online storage fails or goes out of business. That disc or thumb drive you receive your photos on will be obsolete someday.  You will probably buy a new computer someday. So, I suggest preparing for that someday, by backing up your digital images.  You may even want to get a 4×6 print of all of your photos, just sayin’.

I’m sure most of your are familiar with the more common, consumer oriented applications, such as, iPhoto, Windows Photo Gallery, and Picasa.  These three offer a lot of similar functionality and features, and, most likely, your decision will depend on what hardware you prefer.  However, if you are curious about some more robust software choices, I can recommend two : Adobe Lightroom and Apple’s Aperture.

Lightroom is by far the go to software for advanced hobbyists and professionals.  It is officially titled Adobe Photoshop Lightroom so Adobe can make some points by attaching this software to the powerful Photoshop brand.  Lightroom, though, is not a lite version of Photoshop. It has great functionality on its own and is really made for managing and editing large numbers of images.  Lightroom allows for robust image correction, can be used to layout albums (and order books directly from Blurb), makes great slideshows and publishes web galleries. Around here, we spend way more time working on photos in Lightroom than we do in Photoshop.  If you want to take the plunge, Lightroom runs $149 but can very often be found on sale for $119 or even $99.

Aperture is a software made by Apple, and is basically, the grown up version of iPhoto. Being an Apple product, it’s super pretty to look at (which really does count for something if you’re visually inclined).  It offer many of the functions of Lightroom, but the layout and thought process is quite different.  Aperture offers better album layout features than Lightroom, so if that’s your goal, then Aperture may be best for you.  Aperture also syncs to your iOS devices’ photo streams, so you can wirelessly bring in your photos.  One big obvious concern is that Aperture exists only in the Apple universe, so Windows and other folks are out of luck.  Aperture can be bought for $79.99 currently.

The beauty of using either of these professional grade software options is that you can do a lot with your wedding photos, but more importantly you can manage them alongside of all of your photos.  Don’t let the professional thing intimidate you. You can fairly easily get going and put these great tools to use, then spend the next 5 years going deeper into the rabbit hole ;-)