Post-Session & Editing
my approach to images
1. Upload images to an external hard drive.
Photo Organization Flow
I use a card reader to transfer my images from the SD cards to an external hard drive for that year. Saving your photos on external hard drives creates portability to edit on different devices, is safer than storing them on a computer, and helps to organize your images all in one place.
2. Organizing your images into folders
I save them under the subfolder [year]>[session type]>[date-name-location].
For example: 2021>Weddings>05.21.21-Pam & Jim at Niagara Falls
03. Further organization
From that base folder, I create three more folders that I will use later in the process. These are:
- Sneak Peek
(Folders with edits for clients will be created later)
The importance of backing up your images
As a professional photographer, you NEED to have copies, and then more copies, of your images. Your clients are paying you to provide them with photographs of their memories, and if something happens to one of your image storage sources, that's on you, not them. Save yourself the headache, possible fees and legal trouble, by investing in the relatively cheap but invaluable back up hard drive (or two.)
I SAVE EACH GALLERY TO FOUR PLACES:
1. Online JPEG gallery
2. Cloud backup of RAWS AND JPEGS
3. EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE OF ALL IMAGES
4. SECOND DUPLICATE HARD DRIVE OF ALL IMAGES
Shooting for easy editing
Improving your editing workflow begins long before you open up Lightroom. The way you shoot, the lenses you use, and the things you pay close attention to during your sessions can impact how long it takes to edit it.
Things I focus on that help improve editing later:
Shooting in consistent light
Focusing on signature colors
Using lenses that make sense
Keeping my settings correct
Keywording & Renaming images
Upon import, you'll be prompted to rename images. I suggest naming them something like "clientname-location" or "clientname-type of session-location" to increase your SEO and searchability on Google.
Catalog & Collections
I prefer to use one Catalog for all of my images, which is only one of the many ways to utilize this function. From there, I create a new Collection for each of my sessions.
Basic Edits For All Images
If you use presets or a general edit, apply this first. I highly suggest presets to achieve a cohesive and signature look to your photos.
Next, adjust the exposure of your image. Exposure is the Highlights, Shadows, Whites & Blacks Sliders.
Choose white balance with dropper
Adjusting the colors or setting color balance in an image creates an image that looks natural with natural colors. I pick the most neutral color in the image (white or gray) and adjust with the eye dropper. I then make gradual tweaks from there. This is most important for natural looking skin tones.
adjust tone curve
The tone curve represents your entire image. The bottom half of the curve are your blacks and shadows, top your whites and highlights. This video explains tone curve and how to use it really well!
Finding Your Style
A big part of what your brand and photography appearance are comes from your editing style. You may want people to be able to see your work and say "oh hey, that's (your name)'s photo, I can tell!" Why do you think they would say that, be able to identify that? Maybe it's the tone of green you use, or the little hint of warmth you put in your shadows, or the really contrast-y look you use by creating a true black point in your image, but whatever it is, it's YOUR unique style. You can achieve this style in a few ways, which we'll go over below.
Split Toning/Color Grading
Split toning is choosing a hue for the highlights, shadows, and midtones. It makes a HUGE difference in an image, just try it out! For example, you could perhaps create a preset in which in all images, you choose Hue 44 (a yellow) for your shadows, and Hue 205 (a blue) for your highlights. If you're attempting to take a preset and make it your own, or start from scratch and create something unique, this is the place that will make a world of difference.
Most presets come with split toning already chosen, so it's not often you have to tweak this panel. It is fun to adjust though!
The tone curve can be used to create a matte/film look in your images by "crushing" or dragging down the white or up the black parts of your image (the points on the two ends of the curve). You can also keep your curve in this subtle S-Curve shape as pictured to the left for a more "traditional" look.
Once again, presets usually do this part for you, but Tone Curve, along with the Presence part of the Exposure panel are parts of my image I find myself editing a lot to achieve consistency across different lighting situations.
My favorite panel in Lightroom! Balancing and changing individual colors in your images is what feels like art to me in my photography. It's creative and it creates a look that is unique to the session and to your brand.
Most importantly, let's talk about that little button to the right - LIFE SAVER! You can use it like an eyedropper to select a certain shade of green or blue or whatever you want to adjust and just drag up and down to watch magic happen!
Note: *While the eyedropper does a pretty good job at only selecting what you're clicking on, be sure to go back to the full image and readjust in case it picks up any other tones. This is especially important with yellows, oranges, and reds and blues, which are found in skin tones!
Black & White Images
adding and editing
Grain is an aspect of your editing style that can be used to create a vintage, nostalgic look that mimics a film camera. In some uses, grain can also make your images look softer and less contrast-y.
The size, amount, and roughness can all be added and adjusted in Lightroom to create a pattern that is unique. Adding grain is an art in itself and can be used to jazz up an image in a lot of circumstances!
Want to bring focus or light to the subject of your image? Radial filter is your solution!
Clone stamp and healing stamp can be used to retouch blemishes, remove objects, and fix imperfections in your images.
The Dehaze tool can be crucial for bringing back to life those washed-out, hazy sunset photos, but it can also leave your image looking fake if pushed too far. Use this tool minimally if the Clarity and Vibrancy sliders aren't enough.
or not to dehaze.
Use with care...
Remember, your subjects are humans with flaws and imperfections, and those don't always need to be covered up.
Things like birthmarks, scars, and anything else permanent on a body are part of someone. Use discretion when
retouching, and if you're questioning it, ask your client!