As you probably already know editing photos is one of the tasks that come with the job of a wedding photographer. Understanding how to edit wedding photos, knowing all Photoshop brushes or tools can be a time-consuming and overwhelming part of your wedding photography workflow. Benefit from the following 20 wedding photo editing tips, which will completely change your photo retouching, and make it simple and fast.
Photographing a wedding feels like a marathon event. But that stamina-driven creative process doesn’t stop with the last dance.
Once you’ve covered the getting ready, the ceremony, the formal portraits and the reception, you’re left looking at a folder of digital photos that probably numbers well into three digits and maybe even four.
Wedding photo editing puts the final polish on those images, often working as the final step to take those shots from good to great.
Lightroom is one of the most popular photo editing tools for wedding photographers. Because Lightroom does the work of both organizing and editing in one, the software speeds up the editing process.
This is a must when you are looking at a few hundred images. But Lightroom won’t speed up the editing process if you don’t understand all the tools. Here are ten Lightroom tips for wedding photo editing.
Wedding photography is extremely fun, and it lets you apply your creative skills unrestrained. With the market brimming with amazing quality cameras, good photography comes easy even to those with basic skills and knowledge. However, if you want to create an impact with your clicks, proper photo editing is probably the way to go.
Just like photography, photo editing is an art itself. After you shoot a wedding, what you do with the photos is very important. Considering the huge number of pictures and the high expectations that are placed on the results, wedding photo editing can be creative and also difficult at the same time.
A number of free, paid or online photo editing software are now easily available. Regardless of whatever software you choose, here are a few useful wedding photography editing tips that could help you come up with some incredible keepers.
Use Flags and Stars for Easy Culling
The first step to editing wedding photos is determining which photos to edit. One of Lightroom’s biggest advantages is that the program can both organize and edit photos, so there are several tools that help determine which photos make the cut.
Inside the Library, use the import on the bottom left and select the folder destination on the hard drive on the right. Check the “Add to Collection” option and create a new Collection for the wedding.
After importing the photos and adding them to a collection, cull the photos to find the keepers. There are two main tools Lightroom has for the culling process — flags and stars. I use the flags for simplicity.
When I see a photo, I want to edit, and I tap P on the keyboard to add a flag or tap the little flag in the upper left corner of the thumbnail photo in the library module or on the filmstrip in the develop module. (Need an easy way to remember the keyboard shortcut? It’s P for Pick).
Another option is to rate each photo. Tapping 1-5 on the keyboard will give the highlighted photo that many stars. You can then go back and edit the photos with four and five stars, keeping the three stars as an option to add if the final number of photos is a bit low.
Use Custom Presets to Speed Up the Editing Process
Some photographers swear by presets for fast editing, while others say that if you use presets, your photos will look like everyone else’s. So what’s the right answer?
Lightroom presets are great for speed, but they’re also easy to customize. Tweaking a preset or creating your own will help mix speed with a characteristic look that’s more your style.
For example, I have some film-inspired presets that I love, but some of them have odd skin tones with too much orange or artificially increase the contrast.
Once I tweak the preset to what’s more my style, I can edit it so those same changes will also be applied the next time I use the preset.
Editing an existing preset is easy — just apply the preset to a photo, make the adjustments you’d like, then right-click on the preset and choose “update with current settings.” We have a great article on installing presets you can check here.
You can also make your own presets — and if you’ve been manually adjusting all this time, you already have the material to do so. With the edited photo selected, click the plus icon at the top of the presets menu and click the option to create a new preset.
In the pop-up window, name the preset and put a check next to any edits that are in the selected photo that you’d like to include in the present. Now, when you want to apply a similar edit, you can apply the preset to speed up the process.
Presets are great starting points, but most of the time, a photo isn’t done after that preset. The remaining controls can help fix errors with the photo or fine-tune the colour adjustments that the preset provided for that particular photo.
Whether it’s an action shot where the composition is highly off-balance or a group portrait, shot that just needs a little tweaking, photo cropping is one of the most basic tools in your photo editing arsenal. What used to require accurate trimming and slicing in the old days of photography can now be accomplished with the click of a mouse. Be sure not to over-crop, however, or your images will look tight and cramped. It is also fashionable to crop into a square 1:1 aspect ratio. For making slideshows, however, a 16:9 ratio is a better option. Just sayin’.
“Noise” refers to tiny random fuzzy specks on photos taken in low-light. It distracts from the foreground, focus and overall effect of the image. It is usually present in certain areas of some photos (especially the dark colours) or across the entire image in others that were taken in low light. Regardless of the source, photo fixing and photo editing can easily reduce or eliminate the noise that’s lowering the quality of your wedding pictures. With the Photo Enhancer, denoising (that’s the jargon for this step) is done in a single click.
Brighten It Up
The brightness level is another important consideration when editing your wedding photos. Many photos can appear too dark, but a simple slide of the brightness bar (or raising the level in terms of number or percentage) can be all it takes to brighten the scene magically. If you’re not sure about the ideal brightness level for maximizing detail and optimizing an image, Wedding Studio can help. It does this by analyzing the photo and automatically calculating what amount of brightness to let through its filters.
Correct Contrast Settings
Fixing contrast is as important as adjusting white balance in your wedding shots. Making the perfect balance of highlights and shadows can be long and boring to beginners who are not qualified in working with Lightroom or Photoshop. Lightroom presets make photo editing very easy by automating the actions of colour correction. Forget about pulling sliders over each one.
If you want to change the lighting, first make light on the photo neutral. Go to Select – Color Range and select Highlights. Duplicate the selected area to the new layer of the CTRL + J command. Return to the background layer and through the Color Range, select the Shadows.
Duplicate the selection on a separate layer (CTRL + J) and change the blending mode of the layers with the shadows to Multiply. Reduce the opacity to about 30%, depending on the image.
Create a new layer, fill it with neutral grey colour and change the blending mode to Overlay. We start to correct the light/shadow with the tools Dodge and Burn (O). Or you can create a new layer, change its blending mode to Soft Light or Overlay and draw with black and white colours in the required areas with a low opacity brush.
Perfect the Exposure
One of the first edits, after applying any presets, is to adjust the exposure. First, make any changes to the overall exposure. Then, use the highlights and whites slider to adjust the lightest areas of the image. Use the shadows and blacks to adjust the darkest areas of the image.
Use the curves based exposure adjustment tools like the shadows and highlights before using the contrast slider. (The actual tone curve is also available for photographers familiar with working with curves).
Creating brighter highlights and darker shadows create more contrast without the exaggerated look, the contrast slider tends to produce. For a matte look, do the opposite and lighten the darks and darken the lights.
The presence controls are less frequently used, but I will use the clarity slider to add detail to a ring shot. The dehaze tool is also helpful for fog and haze.
Colour Correct With White Balance and HSL Tools
Lightroom Classic’s colour controls sit in two main panels. White balance is located at the top.
Use the dropper tool to select something white in the image, like the groom’s shirt or the bride’s dress, then fine-tune using the temperature and tint sliders.
While this main panel also includes vibrance and saturation, these sliders are easy to overdo. Avoid them, or at the very least, make the HSL edits first to see if those adjustments are still necessary.
The HSL, or hue, saturation, luminance panel, allows for fine-tuning the image’s colours individually. Luminance is how light or dark a colour is. Saturation is how bright or dull a colour is, and hue changes the shade of that colour.
Lightroom gives each colour a slider inside the HSL panel, allowing you to adjust each colour without affecting the others. These colour tools are helpful for creating a specific look. Adjusting the greens and blues, for example, can create the look of a specific film.
Along with creating a specific look, the HSL panel can also be used for some corrections. Pulling up the orange luminance slider will brighten up skin tones while pulling the red luminance slider will make red skin less obvious.
The HSL is also essential for getting great black and whites. After converting the image to black and white (use the Treatment option at the very top of the Develop panels), the HSL becomes the B&W panel and will control what shade of grey each colour converts to.
If you have a photo where two different colours look similar in black and white, you can adjust one of those colours to get more contrast in the black and white version.
One more HSL trick — if you’re not sure exactly where a specific colour falls in that HSL panel or black and white conversion, click on the small circle icon in the corner of the HSL panel.
With the target tool selected, when you hover the cursor over a specific colour, the slider for that colour lights up. Clicking with the tool and dragging up or down will adjust the actual slider value for whichever panel you have open.
This applies to the luminance, saturation or the black and white panel.
Fix Flaws with the Clone Tool
The appearance of blemishes, wrinkles and shadows can reduce the quality of your wedding photos. However, a few clicks of the cloning tool can make it look like those flaws were never there. It’s important not to overuse this tool, as this can make photos look unnatural. Using professional, automated photo editing software can help to eliminate the guesswork of photo fixing so that you get consistent and beautiful results every time.
Colour levels determine if your photos “pop” with life, or is presented as a dull image as if you have a sign veil across your lens. Digital cameras capture light using Red, Green and Blue sensors which then mix them in different proportions to recreate the amazing variety of colours the human eyes can see, and the human brain can remember. If a camera leans too heavily toward red, green or blue, this can throw off the net effect of the image and its impact. Was it a blue or lilac evening gown?
Fortunately, photo editing software can make it easy to adjust the colour balance in your wedding photos – if you have an eye for it. If not, it’s best to leave it in the hands of an automated photo editing solution like muvee Wedding Studio. It has patented colour science technology to correctly recreate the dynamic colour spectrum of the real world as the eye sees it. Try it! It really is quite amazing!
Fix Blurriness with the Sharpness Tool
When taking hundreds of photos throughout a long day, it’s understandable that your Bob the shooter will snap some that are out of focus. This is especially true of candid or action shots. The sharpness tool can help you to salvage what would otherwise be throwaway images. Take care not to oversharpen, through, or images can start to look unnatural or even cartoon-like. The presets in Photo Enhancer will add the perfect level of sharpness to your photos and give each and everyone a more professional quality.
Photo editing requires a steady hand and a fair amount of knowledge and experience in all of the areas described above and more. There are no shortcuts to experience and a good eye. Fortunately, our engineers have managed to put in the most popular and useful “tricks of the trade” by pro photographers out there into a bunch of one-click smart presets.
There are several options for how to edit wedding photos, and these are just a few of our top picks. Even though it is valuable to have an education on all things editing photography, we still believe in our overall mission. Our mission is to empower success and increase the profits of professional wedding photographers.
And that translates to outsourcing areas of your business that are time-consuming and non-profit-generating, such as wedding photo editing. Have questions about our photo editing services? Chat with us online and learn more about how we take the pain and headache of editing off of your plate, allowing you to focus on things you love, and that will help your wedding photography business grow.