The #1 Editing Tool Every Portrait Photographer Needs to Succeed

I used to spend all my time hunched over my desk, fingers flying at lightning speed, hoping to reach my gallery delivery deadline and trying not to think about all the hours I spent in front of my computer.

Then, like a well timed joke - I injured my back out of too much stress related to work and couldn’t sit at my desk for more than 30 minutes at a time.

I had to reevaluate my editing workflow in my business and see if there were areas I could cut down my time on because those client galleries still needed to get done but my body couldn’t handle that amount of editing anymore.

I started using Lightroom in my everyday workflow and the change was instant - I knew the exact steps I needed to take when editing a photo and could edit an entire portrait session in less than an hour. Sound like kind of the coolest thing ever?

The #1 editing tool that every photographers needs to run a successful business

Here’s why Lightroom is the absolute best tool that every photographer needs to run a successful, client based business!

You can use a system that was literally designed to work through boatloads of photos

When photographers tell me they’ve been using Photoshop to edit their client sessions, I want to give them a hug while also kind of shaking their shoulders and say, “have you not heard of the dream that is Lightroom?!”

Lightroom was literally created to edit tons of photos at one time, create consistency between the images, and give you the best tools that you need for editing portrait sessions without the lag and extra buttons that Photoshop has. Photoshop was created to do massively in depth photo manipulation - “you wanna make that building float? Have at it!”

Photoshop was not created to be a streamlined editing program that can work through tons of photos that only need minimal editing. When you’re using Photoshop to edit client galleries, you’re wasting unnecessary time to edit in a program that was not created to do what you’re trying to do.

You can create a workflow that works for you to save time and be efficient in front of the computer

I have a consistent workflow that I use for each portrait session to edit client galleries and also to keep everything looking as cohesive and beautiful and I want - plus, it takes less time to get the photos done which means I don’t have to be in front of my computer 24/7 (helloooo, life).

I shared my complete Lightroom editing workflow for portrait sessions which you can snag here if you’re interested in the specifics, but suffice to say that it has streamlined my editing, cut down on unnecessarily wasted time and helped me develop my photography style that has me known by my clients as “that moody one.”

You can utilize presets that’ll make your photos beautiful but still show off your unique style

You’re an amazing photographer - you have a unique style and that’s why your clients love the work that you do. But did you know you can use Lightroom presets on your photos that still reflect your style but save you time from clicking all those little sliders over and over again?

With Lightroom presets all it takes is one button plus a little tweak for each photo and you’ve got an amazing edit that helps you achieve your vision for the session but doesn’t take all your time away from the other aspects of your business - like client management and oh yeah, actually photographing people.

I use presets on all of my photos because there’s really no reason not to - why wouldn’t I want to spend less time at the computer? Because some random guy on the internet said I wasn’t a real photographer if I use presets? I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s had that happen…

One of my biggest goals as an educator is to help other photographers do what they can to avoid the mistakes I’ve made - both big and small ones.

So if you can relate to the hustle of being your own boss and working yourself to the bones, I highly encourage you to look at the spaces in your business you can improve your process and save your body some stress.


Free Lightroom Portrait Editing Workflow Tutorial

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Katharine Hannah

Katharine’s work has graced the walls of institutions such as The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Harold Washington Library of Chicago, and local galleries such as Dreambox Gallery, Siragus Gallery and Blick Art Materials. She has also been featured on websites such as the Huffington Post, Phlearn, Fstoppers, Tigress Magazine for Girls, Bitchtopia, and Golden Boy Press.

In addition to photography, Katharine has been a mentor and educator in the arts since 2013. She has worked with students in various organizations and projects over the last two years, including Hive Chicago’s PROjectUS initiative and Digital Youth Network’s Digital Diva’s and Chicago City of Learning programs.