In part one of this two part editing series of Oh Shoot Podcast!, Cassidy Lynne (@cassidylynne) covers the essential process you need to know for editing. This episode covers importing photos, culling, delivering images, how to get consistency, and more!
This is going to be a two part editing series and episode #99 is an editing overview. Tune into the next episode to hear more details about actually editing like colors, exposure, etc.
Editing 101 Overview
First, let’s go over my entire process and get a really wide view of it all. When I first started I wish I had just a big blueprint of a normal way to edit and how to do it because it took me at least a year to actually figure it out. Obviously everyone does things differently so you might be listening and discover you edit differently which is totally fine, but this is how I do it.
- Two SD Cards
- Hard Drives
- Photo Mechanic to Cull
- New Folder of Culled Raws on Hard Drive
- Import Culled Raws into Lightroom
- Export Final Photos to Hard Drive
- Deliver on Pic-time
#1 Use Two SD Cards
When it comes to editing you’re going to have your SD card with all of your photos from the session or wedding on it. You should be photographing on two SD cards or an SD card and a CF card depending on the slots your camera has. This is so you have a back up of your photos in case one of the cards is corrupted.
#2 System to Organize Your SD Cards
One card you’ll actually plug into your computer and the other one will be off to the side. You really need a good organization system especially for busy season and when you have a lot of cards with weddings and sessions on them. Keep BOTH of those SD cards until you deliver the photos and the client is happy with them. I saw someone using a jewelry organizer and putting their SD cards in a slot with a label of the couple or event name. Be sure to have an abundance of cards, so that you’re not running out during busy season and are tempted to clear cards that haven’t been delivered yet.
Importing Files on Two Hard Drives
To start editing, my SD card gets plugged into my computer and backed up onto my hard drives. I have two separate hard drives that are exact copies of one another. This is to have another backup of all my work. First, I copy all the photos on my SD cards onto both hard drives. I copy and paste, not drag and drop (supposedly it’s better to do it that way).
Folders on Hard Drive
Everyone is different when it comes to how they organize their folders on their hard drive. Here’s what I have:
Client’s Folder: Edits, Lightroom Catalogs, and Culled Raws.
The culled raws are the sorted, selected raws, so all my photos that have an edit connected to it has a raw photo file. The edits folder has my final exported photos and the Lightroom Catalog has the folder for this client’s catalog.
In Progress Folder: Photos that are in the middle of being edited.
This holds folders of each session/wedding with ALL the raws. I don’t touch this folder until I know for sure that the photos have been delivered and the client is happy. I keep these photos for whatever my contract says, sometimes months. It is very IMPORTANT to keep all the photos in this folder. For example, a client might ask if you have a certain photo that you didn’t deliver. You can look back through and see if you have that photo, but maybe didn’t select to edit it.
I do have cloud storage through BackBlaze. Backblaze has copies of all my hard drives, so it’s an extra layer of protection in case anything were to happen to a hard drive. There are other cloud storage options to look into as well to protect your work a little bit more.
Culling in Photo Mechanic
Once my photos are imported and backed up then the culling process begins. I use Photo Mechanic to cull and select photos to edit. Photo Mechanic is a software that loads your raws quicker than if you were to load them into Lightroom, so it helps you sort through your photos faster. Paying for Photo Mechanic is a one-time fee, not a subscription. Pay once and you can use it for years. Narrative is another popular culling software.
- Cull through all the photos and select the ones you want to edit.
- Create folder in my client’s folder on the hard drives called Culled Raws.
- Move the selected culled raw photos into the correct folder.
- Import files in Culled Raws into Lightroom to edit.
How to Cull
Look for Changes in Photos
When I’m culling through photos I’m looking for changes in orientation, expression, and composition. I’m checking for focus and not selecting photos with people’s eyes closed, etc. Those are the main things to be searching for as you cull. You need to act on instinct. If a photo doesn’t instantly connect with you or is a definite yes, that’s a good way to judge whether you pick a photo or not. I’m looking for if it’s a wide shot versus a close up and pick both. I’m looking for if my client is smiling then straight faced and pick both.
Change in Events
Another change to look for is change of event like in a wedding ceremony where you go from vows to rings. Those are moments I’m making sure to select photos from both events. Or when things go from a wedding toast to a hug. Storytelling is being able to differentiate one event from the next.
Stuck Between Identical Photos: Choose One
A lot of photographers will sit and stare at the exact same photo where maybe your client is smiling a bit more or you shifted to the left a little. You need to make an executive decision and go with your gut reaction to pick one. Your client is not going to notice those tiny changes.
Final Review in Grid View
Once I finish selecting all my photos, I switch over to the big grid view and look at the gallery as a whole unedited. I’m looking at everything and making final selections on similar photos.
I also make sure I selected enough photos or noticing if I have too many. It’s never been a problem for me to hit my target number because I’m often going above my minimums. I talk more about the pros and cons of overshooting and over delivering more in episode # 90 of Oh Shoot.
Once you have all the photos you want to edit selected, you can move the photos you’ve selected into a separate folder on your hard drive, like my Culled Raws folder.
Editing in Lightroom
First, I edit in Lightroom Classic. There’s Lightroom CC, Lightroom Mobile, etc. All of these are great options, but classic has more capabilities which is why I choose to edit in it.
Editing in the Develop Tab
This is where majority of all your editing will be taking place.
Syncing your settings is a super effective way to copy edits across multiple images. For example, if a section of photos were at a similar angle, background, and lighting then edit that first photo and sync those settings across multiple images. It’s super easy and efficient. It helps with consistency in your edits and will help you finish your galleries faster. You can also trying copying and pasting your settings from one photo to the next.
After syncing your settings, you need to go in and look at each individual image to make any tweaks like cropping, straightening, adjusting exposure slightly, etc.
Use a Good Base Preset
Finding a good base preset to use is huge to get consistency with your edits.
Develop Tab Overview
The main areas I use frequently:
- Tone Curves
- HSL: Hue, Saturation, Luminance
- Color Grading
- Lens Corrections
- Enabling Profile Corrections
How to Get Consistency in Your Editing
#1 Use the Same Preset or Same Edit for All Your Photos
Using the same preset, same edit for every single photo in every single session is going to be huge. For booking clients, consistency is a huge thing so they know what to expect as far as the end result of their photos.
You can make slight changes to get the exact edit you’re wanting as long as you’re not going from dark and moody to light and airy. If it’s a slight change your clients likely won’t notice.
#2 Shooting Style
If you’re looking at work that has beautiful locations, lighting and outfits that will all impact consistency and style. If you find yourself photographing midday in a park with lots of green, but you prefer golden hour photos and neutrals then of course you’re not going to love your work. Pay attention to the look you find yourself gravitating towards. Maybe you need to choose different locations or help your clients choose their outfits to get closer to the style you want. Creating consistency in the lighting you shoot in and your locations can really impact your work.
#3 Use the Reference Tool in Lightroom
At the very bottom in the lefthand corner of the screen you’ll seeing a button that says R | A. This allows you to pick a previous photo in that catalog and it allows you to bring it up beside the photo you are editing. You can use that photo as an editing reference to make sure the photo you’re currently editing matches.
#4 Use Grid View in Lightroom
After I edit all of the photos I’ll go to the library tab and switch to grid view. I’ll adjust the view so I can see half the gallery on the page. The main reason I do this is to see if I have a strong gallery overall and for consistency. I’m looking for if there are any photos that look too similar or if anything stands out or looks out of place.
I deliver my photos through Pic-Time. It’s my favorite gallery delivery at the moment. I think it’s important to look for a gallery delivery service that offers more than just hosting your galleries.
Add on a Store
Pic-Time has a print store I use to sell prints and other products. It’s an easy way to bring in passive income. I usually get a couple hundred dollars a month from print sales in Pic-Time.
Ask Clients to Pick Photos for Prints
If you offer prints in your packages, you can also have your clients favorite their 25 top photos to order prints for them.
Access to Galleries on Your Phone
Another reason I love Pic-Time is that I have access to all galleries through my phone. When it comes to content creation and social media posts I have all the photos I need to access right at my fingertips. I don’t have to go back to find an old hard drive to find photos from a past session. It’s nice being able to go into my galleries and download photos straight to my phone.
Photoshop & When To Use It
For me it’s ideal if I can keep everything in one software and keep it simple. Lightroom itself has great editing tools like masking, cloning, and healing. They recently came out with an update with a new content aware option that is amazing. It’s something I used to go to Photoshop for, but now that it’s in Lightroom it’s one less step. I use Photoshop when it’s a last case scenario with editing. Maybe it’s to edit something out that’s too complicated in Lightroom. The main tools I use in Photoshop are the clone stamp, lasso, and magic wand. For example, this wedding season I used Photoshop twice. Once to edit out power lines. The second was for a girl who wanted less flyaways in one photo she was using for a Christmas card.
What device to edit on?
My personal preference is my Macbook Pro. A Macbook Pro is a laptop so I’m able to pick it up and go work at a coffee shop. I’m able to work at my kitchen table, my bed, or take it to my mom’s house. I struggle being in one place and having the same surroundings, so it’s nice having my laptop that I can work from anywhere on.
With laptops there are so many different settings, storage, and RAM that is helpful for editing, but I’m not the person to ask about that. Go to YouTube and find someone who can answer those questions for you.
Some people love using an iMac which is a desktop computer. It has a huge screen which is nice, but I still prefer my laptop and being able to pick it up and go wherever. People also love having multiple monitors with their PC set-up. Those are beyond my knowledge, but are another option. You can also edit on an iPad and use lightroom mobile.
Lightroom Classic vs. Lightroom CC
Lightroom CC is basically like Lightroom mobile, but you can get it on a laptop or desktop. Lightroom Classic is just for desktop and you can’t get it anywhere else. I use Lightroom Classic because I have more freedom and capabilities. There aren’t as many options for tweaking or the calibration option with Lightroom CC. If you’re photographing weddings, sessions, and are editing hundreds of photos then having a system like Lightroom Classic is best.
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