Let’s look at 10 great photo editing tips to speed up your photography process.
Your shooting days are going to stay the same, but you can cut down on your editing.
10. How to Download Images Efficiently
Downloading your images properly is paramount. If your organisation is all over the place, then your editing will be confusing and time-consuming. Use a card reader, not your digital camera, to download the images from your card onto your computer.
This is the best time to leave out images that you don’t intend to keep. If you use Lightroom to import from a card, use the previews to select and leave out photos. I personally use a Mac, and therefore prefer to use Image Capture.
Don’t spend forever selecting images from preview icons, it’s a waste of time. It’s faster to download them, and then leave them out in the selection process.
You can choose to keep your images how you want, but if they sit in folders with an appropriate name and date, you can find them easily. Lightroom can even be set up to have a folder that will automatically import images when they are placed within the folder.
Successfully downloading your images to a specific place will allow your editing to run faster. I have a Photographs folder on a hard drive, and within that, I have the different fields that I photograph in.
An example of this might be Photographs>Wedding>2018.07.15 – Scott & Wendy.
Adobe Photoshop has a lot to offer in terms of post-processing your photographs. What it has in tools and power, it misses some organisation and file structuring.
Sure, you could use Adobe Bridge and Photoshop together, but why use two programs when one is enough?
Adobe Lightroom is said program. It lets you organise your images into its own library while letting you work on images either individually or in batches. No switching programs, no extra costs, no trickery.
On top of this, Lightroom will let you use folders to organise your images and let you use keywords to find images quickly. The best part is that the program will let you keep your photographic edits in an undestructive manner.
Unlike Lightroom, all edits in Photoshop are destructive. And if you accidentally make a mistake saving your files, the originals can go bye-bye.
Lightroom is quick, fast and has all the tools you need for basic editing and mid-level enhancements.
8. Have a Workflow for Streamlined Editing
Creating a good workflow is key in photo editing tips. Streamlining how you deal with your images at the beginning will stop time being wasted later on.
Here, we are talking about getting from the downloading of your images to the final, presentable images.
Depending on the purpose of your images, there is a basic idea that you need to follow for an effective workflow. The steps are, more or less:
- Deliver to the client;
- And/or add to a portfolio.
When I upload my images into Lightroom, I try to do as much work as I can during the import stage. Inside the Lightroom import window, I add keywords, metadata and even add them to collections or add presets while they import.
Lightroom has a great number of tricks and techniques to help you ‘cull the heard’ and separate the wheat from the chaff. From there, its just a matter or editing and retouching, and then exporting.
We will cover all these areas below. A good Lightroom workflow makes your process streamlined, so find what works best for you and use it all the time. Having a checklist helps too, crossing off areas so you know what comes next.
7. Turn Your Editing Into an Assembly Line
An assembly line in a factory allows members of a team to do one task over and over again. It can be boring, true, but it is the best way to edit in the least possible time. The idea here is not to skip ahead until the step before is finished.
My assembly line starts with keywording all of my images. Some can be done as a batch for tags such as location, the camera used, date, and even lens or even the name of the model.
Other tags, such as ‘silhouette‘, ‘close-up‘ or ‘creative‘ will be less used, so I drop those in too.
Next, I go through the images to make an initial selection. If I have 1500 images, this might be getting them down to 300-500. This gives me a better idea of what I have to make a final selection of around 100.
After this selection, I make another and another, becoming more and more critical each time. For this, I go through them very fast, using the auto-advance method and the quick-collection button.
6. Use the Auto-Advance Method
The auto-advance method cuts down your editing time substantially. This works best when presented with hundreds, if not thousands of images.
Put simply, this method automatically pops up the next image when an action has been selected.
For example. In my initial selection process, I and eliminating all those images that are just not aesthetically perfect. Missed shots or pictures where the composition doesn’t work receives a ‘B’ (Quick Collection).
If you didn’t have Auto-Advance, you would need to press ‘B’and then ‘>’ to move forward.
You may think that pressing a button once won’t save you time. Ok, but what about 2000+ times? It all adds up. You don’t need to think about it or lose track as it does it for you.
To activate this, go to Photo>Auto-Advance. A blue box with a tick inside will indicate it is on.
5. Start Batch Editing
As you are photographing a subject in a similar area, under similar if not the same exact weather conditions, your settings are bound to also be, erm, similar. If you want the images to also act as a series, they too should look almost the same.
You can go through and edit these images one by one, making sure they each get the attention they deserve. But why would you? That’s a huge waste of time.
What you should do instead is edit, enhance and adjust the first image, and copy the settings.This allows you to then apply it to the next image, or the next five.
They all receive the same treatment, meaning you just bought yourself some time.
When I’m photographing a couple, I’m looking for 10-15 unique final shots that show a range or location, poses and camera angles. This might mean 10 different locations. For each of these locations, there are around 15-20 images.
Each location gets its own basic adjustment setting, which is copied and pasted, rather than doing it again and again. To save the edits, right-click on the image and go to Develop Settings > Paste Settings.
4. Don’t Spend All Your Time Editing One Image
I spent far too much time, going through my images, and finding one to work on. This is before I have even chosen the initial first group of high-quality photos I want to keep.
This image is the one I have been thinking about since I took it. I can’t wait to get started on it.
More often than not, I’m spending a lot of time trying to get it to fit my vision. I still haven’t made my initial selection mind you. What I find is, even after spending hours on this is that it doesn’t even make it into the final cut.
3. Use Presets to Speed Up Your Workflow
Presets are a God-send editing technique. Not all of them, though, but the ones that work really work. Presets are settings that someone or professional photographers made, sharing them for free or with a small surcharge.
When installed, these editing software presets add an array of different colours, tones, and other adjustments you may need in editing photos.
What I use them most for are black and white conversions. You’ll find that taking a photograph in colour and pressing the Black and White Treatment button will not give you the punchy and contrasted image you’d hoped for.
Not to worry, it’s not your fault. In the beginning, you were setting this image up to be colour, but now the black and white pulls different things from the scene than you initially thought.
I can spend a long time bringing up the contrasts and darkening the shadows.
This time could be better spent. I have created five presets for this exact reason, meaning a 15 min conversion of one image is now reduced to a few clicks. This is one of the most important photo editing tips for saving time.
2. Organise Your Pictures in Smart Collections
Smart collections are my favourite thing. I’m happy with my Lightroom geekiness, so let’s just roll with it. Within Lightroom, there are folders, collections and you guessed it, these smart collections.
A collection is a group of folders, and a smart collection uses its noggin.
I use collections similarly to my folder structure on my computer. I use the field and then specific sessions. For example, a collection would be ‘live music’, for all images of live music, and inside, a folder named ‘Manu Chao – Budapest’.
Here, I just create folders and collections. It even allows me to drag and drop if I see fit. smart collections work from predefined actions. Let’s say I want to collect all the best images from the concerts I filmed in 2009.
Smart collections let me do this easily. From what I want, I have three pieces of information; date (2009) what (live music) and rating (best). Now I give my best images a green colour stamp (‘8’ when selecting).
In the smart collection creation window, I can input these pieces of information, and Lightroom will find them for me, placing them in this smart collection.
It works retroactively, and for images, you will add and rate in the future.
1. Use a Laptop for On the Go Editing
I have found myself many a time sitting on the train or bus home from a session, itching to get home and start post-production. The journey home may take hours, especially if you travelled far to snap away. I don’t have a laptop, I work on my desktop.
I wish I did in these cases, as those hours travelling could be put to good use. By the time I’m home, I could have imported them into Lightroom, added keywords and started on the culling.
Renting a laptop for a day or two could be a beneficial way to cut down on your time.
Lightroom also has a mobile edition, which is free. If you input your Adobe login details, you get more tools to use.
You don’t even need a laptop. But to get your images on your phone, you will need a WiFi external hard drive or a WiFi SD card.
There you go. Ten photo editing tips to speed up your process. there are many, many more, but I feel these are the most quintessential in helping your editing, no matter your field or subject.
I myself use all of these methods when it comes to my work, and it took a while for the entire process to become this streamlined.
You will find your own ways depending on you and your field, so if you have any ideas we haven’t thought of, leave them below.
Before you go, check out this cool video on photo editing tips.