Are You Making These 3 Portrait Editing Mistakes?

You ever have the gut wrenching feeling when you realize it’s suddenly 8pm and you haven’t gotten all those portrait sessions edited that need to be delivered tomorrow? No worries, babe - we’ve all been there. As photographers who run our businesses from a place of passion, it can feel like a ton of bricks has hit you when you disappoint your clients, so let’s talk about some ways to avoid the overwhelm and get your portrait sessions edited on time!

Here are the biggest 3 mistakes that photographers make when editing portrait sessions and how you can avoid making them in your business!

3 big portrait editing mistakes that photographers are making in their Lightroom workflows

Working in Photoshop Instead of Lightroom

Here’s the deal, friend - Photoshop was not created to edit hundreds of photos at once (like, uh, a portrait session). Photoshop was designed for massive photo manipulations like making people look like they’re flying or creating movie posters - and using Photoshop to edit your portrait galleries is wasting your time and energy.

Lightroom on the other hand was specifically designed to work with batch editing tons of photos at once to create consistency and cohesion between the images. It’s designed with all the tools you need to edit a kick-ass portrait session without the added features that slow down your editing time. You can sync your settings between images so that things look super cohesive with just a few buttons and you can export in batches that are optimized for print and web. Doesn’t that sound so much easier?

I started using Lightroom for all my portrait photography sessions and it saved me an unbelievable amount of time and I think every photographer who runs a client based business should get on the Lightroom bus. If you’re curious how to get started with a Lightroom portrait workflow or want to see how I edit my photography sessions, feel free to grab my free video tutorial here!

Wasting Time in Your Lightroom Editing Workflow

Are you editing photos that your client doesn’t even want?

I’ve been surprised time and time again by clients falling in absolute love with the photos that I wasn’t initially fond of, and passing right over the ones I couldn’t stop obsessing over. Everyone has different preferences, so if you want to make it a part of your workflow to have clients choose their photos before you start editing, I highly recommend it!

This can be done through IPS (in person sales) which is something that freaks the hell out of a lot of portrait photographers. I want to preface with saying that you don’t have to charge an astronomical amount of money to incorporate IPS into your portrait session workflow, and you don’t even have to meet with your clients in person a ton to utilize the benefits of in person sales.

One easy way to incorporate IPS in your photography business, build efficiency into your workflow, and save time in editing your portrait sessions is to give your client an online gallery where they choose their images first.

Here’s how it works:

Cull through your images as you normally would to get rid of blinking/blurry images, and then export the full gallery including ones that have a few that are fairly similar and put them into an online gallery like Shootproof or Pixieset. Send the link to your client with the instructions to favorite the ones that they want you to edit and then you only edit those - not waste your time editing the other 50 photos that they won’t ever look at again.

Trying to Remove Every Blemish

I’ll be the first to admit that I used to do this all. the. time. It’s so easy to get caught up in trying to remove every single bump and blemish when you’re editing portraits in Lightroom, so if you haven’t tried using brushes yet then I’m about to blow your mind.

You can purchase or create brushes to use in your editing workflow that can make your clients skin look nearly flawless on the first stroke - the brushes can smooth out the small to medium blemishes that take up the most time and never seem to go away no matter what you do. Then, once you’ve gone through with a brush that softens the skin and gets rid of the little bumps you can go back through and remove the more major blemishes.

If this isn’t making sense, you can see this in action in my video tutorial!


Free Lightroom Portrait Editing Workflow Tutorial

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.