Ever wonder if there is a faster way to edit in Lightroom? There is! Here’s our guide to batch editing in Lightroom!

Ahem…photo editing is surely a topic that everyone loves to talk about.  Most of us photographers prefer to spend our time creatively working behind the camera, out in the field, and breathing fresh air! We’re typically not as excited to sit behind the computer in the middle of the night editing images from the shoot one by one. We all know this process can be a very long one!

Four years ago, when I first started taking photos, I found the editing process to be actually enjoyable. I still do, but the difference between then and now is that I’m MUCH more efficient than I was before.  When I first started photographing weddings, I would spend approximately three hours of photo editing time for each one hour I spent taking photos.  So for an average wedding day, where we worked eight long hours, I’d have another 24 or so hours of editing! Sitting behind the computer, fine tuning the exposure, doing creative editing, etc. That was TOUGH.

Refining the Process…

Since then, and hundreds of photo shoots later, I have refined my process and have been able to take my 3-1 ratio down to about .5-1. That is 30 minutes of photo editing for each hour of out in the field work.  That is a much more manageable number! That also includes the time spent culling the photos, color correcting the images and then also doing more extensive photo editing and altered toning to select images.

The only way to get your photo editing workflow down to a more efficient ratio is to get away from editing images 1 by 1. You need to create a workflow that supports batch editing (editing chunks of images at a time).  So if you are using photoshop and opening, editing and saving images 1 by 1, you have to find a better way!  Save the photoshop portion of your overall workflow for doing more extensive touch ups and editing on a select number of images, not the entire set.  Of course it’s no secret that my favorite software for photo editing is Adobe Lightroom. The newest version of Lightroom is amazing.  In fact, 95% of the time I never go into Photoshop, as everything I need can be done typically in Lightroom.

What is batch editing?

Batch editing is simply taking a group of images an editing them at the same time, based on the first photo you edit.  These photos should all be taken under similar lighting conditions and exposed similar to one another. You edit one of those photos in the batch (to perfection) and then copy and paste those edits to all of the other photos in the set.  *Note, this is not meant to be a copy and paste and then you are all done. Batch editing is meant to get your images very close to being “done,” only requiring quick and minor tweaks to the photos. This will save you heaps of  time by not having to repeat 90% of the work to each image.

How do YOU batch edit your weddings?

Batch Editing Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
Use the Library Module to identify groups of images in similar lighting to batch edit

What I typically do with every wedding is edit my images in chunks of time from the day.  I break the entire wedding day down into these elements and batch edit wherever I can.

1. Bride/Groom Getting Ready
2. Ceremony
3. Family Portraits
4. Bride & Groom and Bridal Party Portraits
5. Reception

By breaking down the entire wedding day into these categories, you have just outlined and created a good game plan for your workflow for each wedding.  Each of those five elements all should have very similar lighting and exposure, which means you can use the consistency among those images to your advantage and edit faster.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Presets Batch Editing

Presets vs Copy/Paste Edits

The logical question that can arise when talking about workflow and batch photo editing is: Isn’t that what presets are for?  My answer is yep!  Use both.  There is no magical preset that will work for every single image, it just can’t. That is, unless you are shooting in a controlled studio environment where you have full control over the lighting and exposure.

Most of us who are on-location photographers are constantly adapting to changing lighting conditions. Because of that, I feel, you should never just apply a standard preset across all the photos and consider the job done.  I typically use a mix of both. I use a preset to get most of the work done, and then I fine tune it. Lastly, I will apply those settings to all the photos within the batch.  So to recap with a list, here is how my general workflow works using both presets and copying/pasting.  If you aren’t familiar with what presets are check out this post.

1. Break down the day into categories (shown above)
2. Apply presets
3. Fine tune a single image in batch
4. Copy/paste to other images in batch

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Presets for Batch Editing
I use these “base” presets to get most of the color correcting done before fine tuning.

*Update: My current “base preset” I use on every image we process is the “bright eyes” preset in the Crisp & Clean Presets Collection.

This is the model that I follow for every single photo shoot, it works very well for me and lets me focus on portions of the day at a time rather than be overwhelmed with looking at the whole day from start to finish.

To see a video photo tutorial showing you exactly how to copy and paste your settings into a set of images check out the video below!

Resources For You For Faster Lightroom Editing!

The Lightroom Ultimate Shortcuts Video Suite

Tired of fumbling your way through Lightroom?  I don’t blame you.  This video suite contains 35 of my very best Lightroom tricks, tips and shortcuts!  With lifetime access to the video collection and the crazy low sale price of $39, it’s a no-brainer and must have for any Lightroom user.

Crisp & Clean Lightroom Presets Collection

Our most popular Lightroom presets collection yet! The easiest way to add the extra “pop” to your photos and take your photos to the next level.  Watch the video demo and see sample photos right here.

Cole’s Import to Export Lightroom Workflow

Wish you could edit faster in Lightroom?  Follow along with me as I reveal my process and secrets that let me edit photo shoots from start to finish in 20 minutes and full weddings in only 4 hours!  Watch me, follow my process, use my settings.  Learn more here. 

If you have any questions or comments at all please leave us a note down below, we’d love to hear from you!!

-Cole