How Many Hours Do You Post-Process?

We’re kind of on a roll here with the post-processing stuff, so I’m curious how much time you spend on the computer (or darkroom) with your photos. I know each image requires a different amount of time, but you must have some notion of an average. Most of us probably spend different amounts of time on different types of photos too, so base your answer on your “public work” rather than the everyday family pics — but if family shots are what you do most of the time, then base if off that. I tend to process my photos for about 3 hours each; some take 30 minutes, while others take 6 hours, but 3 is average for me.

How Many Hours Do You Post-Process?

Also take a look at the poll from last week on “Which Photo-Sharing Site Do You Use?” It looks like Flickr cleaned up on Zooomr and others with 50% of the votes. It’s also interesting to note that 8% of you don’t use any photo-sharing site — what’s up with that? Get on board folks!

This entry was posted in Reader Poll on by .

About Brian Auer

a photography enthusiast from North Idaho. He's also the guy behind the Epic Edits Weblog. As a hobbyist photographer since 2003, his passion has been to constantly improve his photography skill set, to share his own knowledge with others, and to become an integral part of the photographic community.

15 thoughts on “How Many Hours Do You Post-Process?

  1. Brian Auer Post author

    Well… you know, stuff. Sometimes I’ll spend a few hours just figuring out which direction to go. Then other times I’ll finish a photo, completely hate it, and start over. It’s not 6 hours all at once, it’s usually stretched over several editing sessions.

  2. brian

    got here by blog rush (fyi)

    I probably spend at most 5 mins on a photo in lightroom, occasionally one that requires touch ups an extra 5-10 mins.

    my 2 cents is that if you’re spending more than 5-10 minutes you probably didn’t shoot the photo very well in the first place

  3. Brian Auer Post author

    Cool Brian, I’ve found a couple of new sites myself from the BlogRush thing.

    Thanks for the vote on the poll, it looks like most people are falling into the less than 1 hour category. Regarding your 2 cents, I don’t know that it’s accurate to say that if a photo requires more than 10 minutes it wasn’t shot well. Some editing techniques require a lot of time in detailing, especially when you get into various masking techniques coupled with layer adjustments and blends. Everybody does their post-processing a little differently, and I tend to make lots of little adjustments rather than one big one. I also spend a lot of time in trial-and-error searching for the right look or effect.

    Then again, I may be out of my mind to spend hours on a single photo. Well, if I am nuts, at least I have company — it looks like there’s a few of us out there who spend 2 or 3 hours per photo.

  4. kahunna

    Well, now that I think about it, I *have* spent more than an hour on a single image – mainly removing a background from a portrait to use in my web design. Masks can indeed take up a lot of time without realizing it.

    When you said “post-process”, I didn’t include major photo manipulation such as time adding a shark eating a helicopter under the Golden Gate Bridge, for instance. At that point, it’s not so much a photo to “post process” but rather a graphic artwork to create, IMO.

  5. Brian Auer Post author

    I don’t do much design work with Photoshop, but I can imagine the the process might vary at some point. I guess when I asked the question, I had photographers in mind — I tend to forget about the other users of Photoshop.

  6. Robert Hammar

    I think it has to do how much you know about Photoshop. If you know less then you spend more time with your pictures, and if you know more then you spend less time.

    If you also have a plan what to do then you also spend less time with every photo. But 3 hours on each photo in average that’s give less time to create more.



  7. susheel


    As a professional photographer, I usually have to make sure that my images are all OK before I can send them off to my clients. Very often, this means many many hours of post processing and touching up, especially since I use some un-conventional techniques to get pictures that don’t ‘look’ unconventional, but in reality can’t be taken with a ‘simple snapshot’.

    Using lightroom has cut down my processing times drastically, I’d say by at-least 50% if I was using photoshop and by about 10-15% if I was using other RAW workflow software.

    So, I’d say about 20-30 minutes on a typical image (that goes for your current running project too), including photoshop work.

  8. Brian Auer Post author

    That may be the case for some, but I have noticed that the more I learn about Photoshop, the more time I spend in there. I have a much larger arsenal of tricks to use, and some of them are quite time consuming.

    About my 3 hours per photo taking time away from other things — not really the case. I don’t process a lot of my photos, and most of my decent ones are sitting in a queue to be worked on. If you notice, I only finish maybe one or two photos per week. So I might spend 5 or 6 hours per week doing photo editing. In contrast, somebody that edits all their stuff at half hour each, might actually spend more time processing. Taking this “slow release” approach allows me to sit on things and determine what photos are really worth working on. I’d rather push out one or two really good ones per week than 50 mediocre ones and hope for one or two that spark interest. If I were doing photography stuff full time, I’d probably make it a point to create a new photo each day — but for now, I still have a day job.

  9. Brian Auer Post author

    It’s good to hear some insight from a pro — I can imagine that your workflow must be very streamlined in order for you to keep up with things. I didn’t realize that Lightroom could be such a time-saver… I’m a loyalist though, so I think I’ll be sticking with Photoshop

  10. Jim Goldstein

    In general I spend a lot of time processing images during my free time. Overall I put in 10-14 hours a week… at least as of late due to the sheer volume I’m working with. Per image I try to streamline the process, but some images getting tender loving care are worked on anywhere from 1-6 hours. The longer time frames are considerably more rare but it does happen. It’s the price of being a perfectionist I suppose. My goal is to keep the amount of time processing images to a minimum on an individual basis.

  11. Brian Auer Post author

    Good point Jim. I try to keep the time down, but I too am cursed with perfectionism. Not only that, but I don’t get to do a lot of editing to start with, so when I do it’s usually on the photos that are in my highest regard at the moment. That’s probably why I end up averaging 2 or 3 hours per photo.

  12. Pingback: How Many Lenses Do You Own? | Epic Edits Weblog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>