Guest Feature: Editing for Wedding Photographers

How I speed up my editing workflow using Palette

By: Allie Siarto • allieand.co

The following is a guest post from Allie Siarto, an editorial style wedding and portrait photographer based in East Lansing, Michigan — visit allieand.co to see more of her work and writing.

I run a studio with three associate photographers plus myself, and I personally edit about 80% of the photos that go through the studio, so I’m always looking for tricks to make the process easier and faster without sacrificing quality.

My husband surprised me with a Palette Starter Kit for my birthday this year, and it’s been such a treat. I’m planning to add to my set for the ultimate in editing efficiency. Here’s my recommended setup:

Culling and Rating Your Photos

I use Photo Mechanic to quickly cull through my photos. If you’re not using this tool already, you’re missing out on a huge time saver. Here’s how I recommend setting up your Palette gear for culling and rating photos in Photo Mechanic:

  • Button #1: Press Button > Keyboard Left
  • Button #2: Press Button > Keyboard Right
  • Button #3: Press Button > Set to “T” (tag photos you want to keep)
  • Button #4: Press Button > 5
  • Go to Preferences > Accessibility and set “Single Key Shortcuts” to “0–5 Sets Rating.” This button will now set images to a rating of “5” so that favorites can easily be sorted out for blogging and social media at any time.

Editing Your Photos

I use Lightroom and Mastin Labs for photo editing. Once I’ve culled through my photos in Photo Mechanic, I import my selected photos to Lightroom and apply the Mastin Labs Fuji Pro 400H Neutral — N preset to the first image (your favorite presets will obviously vary based on the style you like — I shoot a tiny bit of film in addition to digital, and I’ve found that this look fits my style perfectly). From there, I sync my settings across all of my photos to apply that preset to everything.

Getting your photos right in camera will obviously save you a lot of time during the editing process. Make a point to use the proper lenses for each situation, take the time to frame your photos carefully and set white balance appropriately (I set it for 5000K when using flash, and I often use an Expodisc to set white balance in natural light), but even with these things in place, I may still want to make a few final tweaks to get everything ready to deliver to my clients.

Here’s the Palette setup I recommend to quickly edit your photos in Lightroom:

  • Button #1: Press Button > Keyboard Left
  • Button #2: Press Button > Keyboard Right
  • Button #3: Toggle Presets > User!
  • Create a preset under “User Presets” called “00 Lens Correction,” and create a preset where you press “Auto Lens Correction.” Now, whenever you hit this button, Auto Lens Correction will automatically be applied to the image. This is great for quickly straightening photos that are either indoors with walls in the background or have buildings/straight lines in the background. Crooked photos are one of my biggest pet peeves, so this button quickly takes care of this for me and saves me so much time.
  • Button #4: Select Tool > Adjustment Brush!
  • I certainly don’t use the adjustment brush on every photo, but in some cases, I’ll bring up the exposure on my clients’ faces a bit to bring the eye right to their faces as the center of attention. In other cases, I might bring the exposure down on a part of the photo to balance it out or bring the eye away from that point. I use the tool often enough that it’s worth having a shortcut to jump right to it.

Now let’s take a look at some of the fine tuning I do in Lightroom. I batch edit as often as I can to save time, but I often find that in candid situations where my subjects are quickly changing their distance from my light source — usually indoor photos where they’re moving toward and away from window light or my off camera lighting — I want to make a few tweaks to exposure and white balance.

  • Dial #1: Basic > Exposure
  • I set my sensitivity to -5 and +5. This lets me turn the dial up or down to quickly pop up or bring down exposure, especially for candid photos.
  • Dial #2: Basic > Temperature
  • Dial #3: Basic > Tint

I’ve found that the dials give me the most control over my fine tuning in Lightroom, and they are a lot faster than finding the adjustments I need in Lightroom and using my mouse.

I also use the slider for cropping (remember — I love my images nice and straight). I recommend going into your advanced options and changing the sensitivity from 45º to 10º. This gives you a little more control when you just need to do a little tweaking to straighten out crooked images.

Here’s the full list of gear and settings in one place:

Photo Mechanic:

  • Button #1: Press Button > Keyboard Left
  • Button #2: Press Button > Keyboard Right
  • Button #3: Press Button > Set to “T”
  • Button #4: Press Button > 5
  • Be sure to go to Preferences > Accessibility and set “Single Key Shortcuts” to “0–5 Sets Rating”

Lightroom:

  • Button #1: Press Button > Keyboard Left
  • Button #2: Press Button > Keyboard Right
  • Button #3: Toggle Presets > User
  • Create an “Auto Lens Correction” preset under “User Presets”
  • Button #4: Select Tool > Adjustment Brush
  • Dial #1: Basic > Exposure
  • Dial #2: Basic > Temperature
  • Dial #3: Basic > Tint
  • Slider: Crop Angle (set range to +/- 10º)

About Me

I’m an editorial style wedding and portrait photographer based in East Lansing, Michigan.

My photography work has been published in The Knot Wedding Magazine, Style Me Pretty, Every Last Detail, Houzz, Borrowed & Blue, Love Inc. Magazine, Love & Lavender and other outlets.

When I’m not behind my camera, you’ll find me wrangling my two tiny daughters (Zel is three, and Arden was born at the end of 2015), documenting the renovation of my 1970s house, enjoying life in a university town, walking to the farmers market with my family on a warm summer day, heading out on the lake on a stand up paddle board or sailboat, traveling as much as possible and eating dessert on a daily basis. You can follow my adventures on Instagram and check out my podcast for fellow photographers.

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