How To Simplify Your Photography Editing Workflow

I do not claim to know everything there is to know about photography.  But since I first picked up a DSLR two years ago, I have grown so much, and I love to see other photographers grow in their work as well.  I want to share some of my tips and tricks with editing that may help along the way!  Whether you are a mom taking some pictures of your kiddos, a hobbyist taking every day photos, or a business owner who could use a little help with improving your workflow;  I hope you can find a few takeaways to help you out in the area of editing!

How to simplify your photography editing workflow

I thought the hardest part of photography would be learning how to shoot on manual mode.  While it does take a lot of time and practice to master your style of shooting, I completely overlooked how difficult editing could be!  When I first started using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop it was a big learning curve for me.  I am self taught at editing so I found every resource I could find and read and read, practiced, and read some more.  Everything I know about editing is through educating myself and talking to other photographers.  I then take what I have learned and make it my own!  

Once you have the basic knowledge of your editing program, the next big hurdle is developing consistency in your style!  Clients who book you for sessions are booking you based on your previous work.  Maybe they came across your website, or found you on Facebook or Instagram, either way they liked what they saw and are depending on that style for their final product.  In order to have a consistent style, it is important to develop a consistent workflow.

1) Cull with Photo Mechanic

Photo Mechanic is a program I recently started using, and is perfect for quick culling.  It is specifically designed to create an efficient workflow and ingesting several hundred photos will not slow the program in the least.  You can rotate, rename, organize, etc all before importing your photos into Adobe Lightroom.  I used to import my photos directly into Lightroom and would do a quick cull by flagging my favorites prior to any editing. Find what works best for you!

2) Create an Import Preset

I personally use Adobe Lightroom for approximately 95% of my editing.  In Lightroom, I have several presets developed based on my editing style.  One of these presets are my basic adjustments and are applied to each photo on import.  After that, based on the individual photo, I may make minor adjustments or apply a second preset.  For example, backlit photos tend to need different adjustments, so I would apply my backlit preset to these photos.  My import preset is set to adjust everything I want adjusted EXCEPT white balance and exposure.  These two adjustments are made individually depending on the lighting and setting.  With proper exposure and white balance made in camera, I typically make minor adjustments in these two areas.  

3) Bulk Edit 

Depending on the session type and locations used, you may have several different lighting scenarios and backgrounds within one session.  In this instance, I will make all of the necessary adjustments as mentioned above until I am happy with an image.  Then, if there are multiple images, poses, etc. with similar lighting and background, I highlight each of these images, and use the SYNC option in Lightroom.  At this time I select all of the settings including white balance and exposure to be applied to the following images in that grouping.  By doing so I just edited five or so images in the matter of time it took me to edit one image.  Apply these principals to the all of the images from one session and voila you are done in a matter of no time at all.

I personally edit very clean with minor adjustments.  I also strive to shoot my images in camera so that they require very little editing in post production.  Every one has a method that works best for them, it is just a matter of finding your style, developing a consistent workflow, and sticking with it!  Your methods may change somewhat as you learn and grow, but developing a consistent editing workflow is something that you can carry with you throughout your business.  Not only will it help save you a lot of headaches, time, and grief, but it will show in your final product and the manner in which you run your business.  Imagine providing your clients with their images within several days of shooting their session versus several weeks.  Happy clients, happy photographer, and more time for the things that really matter!