The Ultimate Engagement Editing Workflow

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Engagement Photo Editing Tutorial

The Ultimate Engagement Photo Editing Workflow

Learn how to edit engagement photos in Lightroom fast! Fast editing a full engagement session in under 30 minutes. Want to know how to be a full time wedding photographer / make money as a photographer WITHOUT spending all your free time editing? Your editing workflow is critical. With a great Lightroom editing workflow you can get through editing a photoshoot way faster and keep back log from happening. Editing faster in Lightroom will save you time, impress your clients, and give you your life back. If you’re a full time wedding photographer or just getting into wedding photography or engagement photography, todays Lightroom Editing Workflow will show you some quick tricks to save time editing engagement sessions.

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[powerkit_collapsible title=”[VIDEO TRANSCRIPT]”]
hey guys Ryan here at signature edits
and today I’m gonna take you behind the
scenes to show you how I call and edit
an entire engagement shoot in under 30
minutes let’s do it alright so the time
is 10:30 6:00 and we are ready to go the
first thing that I’m going to do is open
up photo mechanic that’s the program
that I used to call my photos you can
use Lightroom if that’s what you have
but photo mechanic is faster so
Lightroom you might have a pause between
images while they’re loading that sort
of a thing photo mechanic you’ll see
here once I pull it up that we are just
blazing through the images so there we
go I get started and I’m just gonna go
through this as my first kind of look
and I’m gonna grab everything that I
kind of like is my first impression
because it’s an engagement shoot it’s
not super important that I take quite as
much time as I would with a wedding
obviously I’m going to get all the good
shots while still getting through it
pretty quickly so I’m just going through
here and grabbing the shots that I like
the most a lot of walking and things
that are repetitive I’m just kind of
gonna grab one from the set so I’m not
going to grab five photos from this
exact pose I’m just gonna grab one maybe
two if there’s two different expressions
gray and there’s some laughter they’re
having fun but we’re still pretty
similar here so I’m going to keep going
great that’s kind of neat little detail
there nice I did grab those two they’re
from the same set that’s okay we’ve got
a laugh and we’ve got a smile and they
can choose later on which they like most
and you can see how amazingly fast photo
mechanic is as compared to Lightroom
where you’re waiting a second or two a
photo that makes a big difference when
you’re trying to edit something quickly
imagine going through a wedding that has
four thousand photos well in photo
mechanic you can do that in probably
thirty minutes whereas in Lightroom it
would take me a couple of hours for sure
so it’s worth it to me it’s a couple
hundred dollars to buy the program but
if you’re doing a lot of shoots and you
need to get through images quickly I
have not come across anything better
right that’s kind of funny and nice once
in a while I’ll grab one I’ll realize
there’s one better further out these are
pretty funny they had a lot of fun Wow
apparently she’s pretty strong so not a
whole lot to see here I’m just going for
the emotions the reactions and I’m
grabbing as much variety as I can and I
will do probably a second pass to narrow
it down to my top kind of 5060 images
and it depends some photographers give
their clients 100 images from the shoot
some give them 30 or 40 I kind of like
to give them all the unique photos the
ones that I really like well at the same
time not overwhelming them with 15,000
photos and then all of a sudden they
kind of lose their impact because
instead of having one photo they have to
choose between six and sometimes having
too many choices actually makes us less
happy in the end great they’re doing
some running nice he’s got some cardio
in this looks a little awkward I’m just
not going to keep it especially because
he’s hidden completely behind her would
have been better to pose him over here
to make him look a little more
significant in the frame like this he
looks tiny and she looks huge because
she’s hidden hiding him behind her so
we’re just probably not gonna keep any
of those maybe that there we go that’s
better you see how much of a difference
that makes between this and this he just
looks like more of a man also general
rule you want to have the woman look
smaller in the frame so I would have had
him over here more and maybe had her
stand slightly to the side that would
have made her smaller and appear thinner
and made him just appear more masculine
so we’re gonna go through lots of good
stuff man there are a lot of photos in
this engagement session they went for it
that’ll work
and again I don’t know why they didn’t
maybe because she’s a girl and she
wasn’t comfortable it would have been
better to have her in behind what made
her seem smaller again okay so that’s
pretty similar I don’t know if I like
one more than the other I’m gonna just
go with that one cuz she’s kind of
smiling
great okay so you saw how fast that was
it is now 1041 so what does that take
four minutes and I just pressed that you
know we’ve got all the ones I basically
do a yes or no culling system so I’m
calling them I mark it if it’s a yes
everything else by default is a no so
we’ve got 88 photos I can narrow it down
and go through really quick and just
make sure that there’s not too much
repetition I don’t really like that one
and that’s not as good as this one
great it’s okay
anything that looks too cheesy or forced
I’m going to get rid of it as well so we
got some major repetitiveness I like
that one better so keep that that’s out
of focus and because all the lighting
the lighting is very similar across all
these photos it’s not going to be too
much more work for me to go through and
edit you know 80 versus 60 great so that
was one more minute to just do a final
pass there call it a few and I’m going
to copy selected photos and what I
normally do is I’m going to move photos
delete originals couldn’t navigate to
where I have those photos kept right now
everything is a bit of a mess and have
to move this over later to my backup
hard drive but normally I put them in a
folder labeled selects and I’ll hit move
great and then the rejects I’m going to
copy them and put them in their own
folder as well and I’m going to label
that rejects and then that way I always
have the photos I don’t actually throw
them away in case it turns out that I
selected one because I am calling pretty
quickly and I sometimes select one
that’s out of focus and then there’s one
that is in focus right next to it that I
didn’t select so I keep those handy and
organized so that took just over five
minutes to do the culling I’ve got
Lightroom pulled up here and we are
going to keep moving all right got my
Roz here I’m going to import them into
Lightroom perfecto and normally I don’t
apply a develop setting on import or
metadata because I like to do that once
I actually look at the photos themselves
I’m not generating smart previews
for performance because my Mac seems to
run pretty well out of the gate here
however if you have performance issues
with your laptop or a computer you can
make sure to do that to generating
previews will definitely make it faster
performance so what I’m going to do here
is I’m going to find a preset that just
works well and I’m going to apply it to
everything definitely the key to editing
quickly is in batch editing so right
here I have the signature at its presets
we’ve got four in our Genesis pack and
I’m just looking through to see what
works the best I think that signature
edits zero one is going to work the best
and here we have three variations plus a
knight and basically the pluses are just
howdy saturated the greens are that’s
the main difference that’s happening
here so I’m gonna go with maybe plus one
that’s a nice middle ground and I’m just
going to sync that across I’m also going
to set this photo to auto white balance
because I find in general Lightroom does
a better job at auto white balance in
post then your camera does in the moment
and we’re just going to sync everything
across I haven’t made any adjustments
except for that so now every single
photo is going to be set to auto white
balance and have that preset applied
great so now let’s get through it and
start editing so in general I’m just
going to go through and I’m going to
adjust my exposure I’m also going to
adjust the contrast and just do kind of
a master adjustment because I am
noticing that in general these photos
are looking a little bit too contrasty
so we’re just going to dial that back
little by pulling the blacks up maybe
the contrast down a little bit adding
maybe a little bit of d haze and one
other thing I’m going to do is the grain
is pretty strong in these presets and I
like to start with less and I can always
add more so I’m going to take the size
down and the amount down then I’m going
to sync those once more across
everything and get started going through
from here now that I’ve got my base
changes I can basically just go through
a just my exposure maybe do a couple of
local adjustments here and there as
required and I’m good to go so one thing
I am going to do is well just a master
change I’m going to take my vignette and
the correction under lens Corrections
I’m going to take that down to maybe
like 70 this is just a personal taste
thing I find that Lightroom goes a
little bit heavy on correcting the
vignette and so I’m going to want to
make sure that that is reduced a little
bit great
okay now I’m going to go through and I’m
going to edit these bad boys and you’ll
notice that I’m using the keyboard
shortcut so I’m using the plus and minus
to adjust my exposure that’s a really
quick Lightroom trick you can use and I
am holding shift and that’ll actually
let me do it in bigger increments and
just save me clicking more we’re going
to sync the white bounce across these
two photos because they’re from the same
setting it saves me some time great and
one last little thing that I can do this
is what I do on most of my photos for
adjustment layers this is all I do I
grab a radial filter I’ll grab the
contrast and take it down and just
invert it so now there’s less contrast
in the middle or wherever I move this
filter and you’ll just see it very very
subtly brightens what’s going on in the
middle here so that way I can actually
brighten the subjects just a tad while
having it really really be transparent
and quick to apply you can see how quick
that is let me take the exposure down a
little on that one and I’m just gonna go
through like this this one’s looking a
little bit blue so I’m gonna take that
and warm it up a little bit maybe darken
it great
and there’s really not a whole lot of
fancy editing going on here I’m just
taking this radial filter just to
brighten up the couple a little bit and
here and there you’ll see there are some
adjustments that I’m going to make as
it’s required but my main thing is I
want to do the most efficient work
possible I still want to do a great job
but I want it to be efficient so I don’t
want to have to do extra work by
individually doing my images so this one
her skin’s looking a little bit pink so
I’m going to add some green cool it down
a little bit lower the contrast and
reduce saturation and that’s just a
quick little brush that I tend to use
when I’m finding that skin is looking
too saturated it’ll brighten it very
slightly and reduce the saturation and
the amount of red by just adding some
green back in great and we’ll paste our
radial brush on here
looks good
I don’t really need this radial brush
but it will help me just add a little
bit more focus onto the couple by making
it darker and one thing I’m going to do
with this one is I’m going to grab my
texture brush if you buy a signature at
its pack they come with this nice
workflow of pre-made brushes so you
don’t have to get your settings for
every single brush you’ve just got some
already pre saved or you can make your
own just by pausing the video and
copying that setting if you like the way
it looks you can see what a simple edit
it is here’s the original and here’s
after with that preset and just one
little radial filter applied I’m going
to copy that save me the time of moving
it good and our skin’s looking a little
bit saturated here so we’re gonna do the
same thing as before
saturation BAM contrast down just like
that it’s subtle but it works keep it
easy when you can that’s maybe looking a
little bit yellow actually so we’ll just
take the white balance down a little
great and because we don’t have any skin
tones just add a little interest here
I’m going to go to my texture brush
again Oh text your brush put with my
adjustment brush there we go and you can
see we’re just adding a little bit of
text you’re making it maybe a little
more interesting to look at and we could
even paint a little bit on them just to
add some sharpening great and we’ll do
the same thing on this one
take my flow up a little save me some
time perfect
once more there we go so that was just
that radial filter made that extra pop
brightens them up right away so I can
make it a little bit darker get a little
bit more of that sunset back now she’s
looking pretty red I’m gonna grab my
skin brush and I actually have a premade
brush just to save on time that’s pretty
much it
I probably went too far on that one just
by taking too much of the white balance
down we can just copy paste because
we’ve got the same kind of frame going
on
at work I’m just racing by holding alt
and again you might say oh that’s a
sloppy brush stroke that you just did
Ryan well that’s true it is however you
can’t see it if you can see it then I
get really concerned I hate that when
you can see the brush showing up but if
I can’t see it it works if it looks good
to your eyes it is good that is a pretty
good rule of thumb when it comes to
editing photos now of course the real
question is are your eyes good because
if they’re not
I’ve had many edits where I think it
looks great in the moment and I come
back and I’m like what were you thinking
so developing your eye is definitely a
process that comes with time and we’re
about halfway through right now making
good time now I think I can see this
brush that maybe not see there you go
that you can definitely see so just
delete this so we don’t have it added to
every image here oh great
and again super sloppy but because it’s
a really subtle effect you can’t see it
you can’t see that it wasn’t perfectly
placed in every way great you can see
how that radial filter just darkened the
background right down and made them pop
little and add a little bit of
brightness to that awesome and I can
copy/paste I’m just not going to copy my
brush effects there we go looks great
and I don’t feel the need to edit every
photo if if for instance the photo looks
good right away there’s no need for me
to go in and brush and do all sorts of
fancy stuff add extra work to what I’m
doing if it looks good let’s leave it so
here’s our original here’s with that
preset and a radial filter applied maybe
dial back the contrast just a little bit
these guys had so much fun of their
session it’s great
mm-hmm a little bit of vibrance tywin
let’s do one in black and one white just
for fun and sometimes if the photo
doesn’t look great in color right away
one strategy I have is you know what
black and white can be nice once in a
while let’s give that a try then if that
looks good no worries there’s no need to
fight the image to be something it’s not
and you will notice that these presets
look really really good just on their
own without much tweaking first off
that’s good that’s something that’s not
all presets do however that’s also
because the lighting conditions are very
very good if you’ve bought these presets
or you’ve downloaded other presets in
the past and like why don’t they just
work the way that these ones do well
it’s because these photos were taken at
sunset when the light was very soft
you’ll notice there’s no harsh shadows
going on you can’t even see the Sun in
the sky in general you’re going to get
way better results from any presets when
your light is good so if you want to fix
your presets that’s the first thing you
should do but one of the things that we
did when we designed the presets is we
looked at it and said okay how can we
make these just work even if the
lighting is terrible even if it’s a
super sunny day at 12 o’clock and
they’ve got huge shadows under them how
do we make these presets just work and
so that’s why we designed them the way
we designed them so that they’d be fast
that we can move through and edit an
entire engagement in an hour or a
wedding in a couple of hours makes a big
difference especially when you’re
editing a lot of shoots and one of the
reasons that they’re so flexible is if
we add harsh lighting right here what
one thing you can notice is the presets
by themselves when I first apply the
preset
it’s a little bit harsh but we’ve got
lots of wiggle room we can take our
contrast all the way down or our blacks
all the way up we can take our whites
all the way down we can really really
bring back a lot of the detail from this
image and we have lots of options
where’s some presets when you buy them
the contrast is up here the blacks are
down here the whites are up here
shadows are down here and you don’t have
as much room to actually tweak things
after the fact so that’s one of the
reasons that these presets work well but
you don’t have to use them use whatever
presets work for you
and whatever gives you the look you’re
going for if you do want to try oh I’m
gonna put a free demo link in the
description below and you can check that
out to download some free samples see if
they work for you the way you want them
to will cool that one down maybe darken
it a little bit great she’s looking a
little orange here so we’ll just paint
on there and if you want to see what
you’re painting you can just press the O
key that’ll show where your adjustment
brush is coming from so if I press o
here it’s a really quick way to see
what’s going on because sometimes you
don’t notice that you’ve missed a spot
or that sort of thing
just brighten that up looks good
get out of this one I’m gonna take a
little bit more time on because I think
it’s a great shot just to add some
desaturation and we’re going to grab
this grass and paint on there and we’re
going to switch to our texture brush and
if you find that the brush is too strong
too weak you can always hit this little
triangle and grab the amount slider
bring it up or down just dial it in
where you like it there we go and then
we’ll just warm it up just a little bit
looks pretty blue to me and I’m not
going to try and fight it and make it
not blue at all the reason is blues
because there’s a lake here there’s a
mountain here and it’s reflecting all
this blue light so no matter what I’m
going to do it’s going to stay blue or
it’s going to just look unnatural to
your eye so I’m not going to fight and
try and make my image something it’s not
that is just a quick little tip from
personal experience of trying way too
hard to make something look a way you
want it to when the photo originally
didn’t look like that you’ll find you
just get frustrated and it looks silly
great this is okay no that’s needs to be
warmed a little bit I might do that in
black and white actually try that add a
little bit of D haze darken it down
do one more with the grass same thing
awesome these are looking a little bit
warmer than our other photos we’ll just
take that down a little bit in white
balance and we’re going to switch that
brush to our skin desaturate err there
we go that’s better nice you’ll see we
are almost all the way through here now
and take a little more time on this one
and just do another layer of that
contrast but this time I’m going to use
it to add texture outside of where they
are great and we’ll dial it back a
little bit by pressing this triangle
bringing the amount back here’s before
and after awesome this one his eyes are
actually closed so I can delete that you
got one last photo and I actually wish
that they had had her sit up on here and
him in front it would have made him look
again larger in the frame but it’s still
a great shot I’m gonna see if I can get
this guy back no it’s already blown out
so I’m just going to leave it with them
nice and bright we’re missing a little
bit of contrast from where he is facing
into the Sun and there’s some lens flare
going on so what I’m going to do is just
reset this brush add a little bit of D
haze and contrast and paint that on him
obviously that looks way too intense so
we’ll dial that back so that it’s subtle
D haze can be your best friend or worst
enemy you decide okay so that’s our
entire session we’re going to export it
way I normally do it is because I’m
using the signature edits presets it
comes with a print preset but if you
want to copy my settings you can go
ahead and just set it I find quality
around 80 is great image sizing we just
leave that full-size matte paper
sharpening on low and I export it to its
own folder and I will label it Shawn
Laura client print so I know what it is
and we’ll rename the photos Shawn Laura
engagement and export okay so that took
a minute we are now finished exporting
from beginning to end inside of
Lightroom that took eighteen minutes to
edit these images plus the five minutes
it took in photo mechanic for a grand
total of 23 minutes from beginning to
end with this engagement shoot now
obviously not every session is going to
have perfect ideal lighting it might
take a little bit more finishing from
photo to photo but I hope this was a
good just demonstration of how quickly
it can go when your lighting is great
when you’re using presets that you know
you’re familiar with and when you’re
just taking your photos adjusting with
keyboard shortcuts your exposure and
white balance and then using transparent
effects that don’t need to be super
complicated to get the job done if this
was helpful please make sure to hit that
like button don’t forget to subscribe
and if you want to try out these presets
you can download them in links below for
free all right take care
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[/powerkit_collapsibles]

 

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