Hey everyone – without a doubt, Adobe Lightroom is one very powerful tool that we use at Cole Joseph Photography on a daily basis.  Lightroom does a magnificent job at keeping track of your photos and using as a photo storage manager but it is also a very impressive photo editing program.  For our workflow we use Adobe Lightroom exclusively, only taking the photo into Photoshop on rare occasion – for this reason we can efficiently cull down 1,500 to 2,000 original images to the final 700 or so being all done and ready to deliver to the client in about 5 hours or so total time.   We don’t work on them nonstop and have our brain and eyes turn to jelly so we don’t actually give them the images after 5 hrs but if I track the hours I spend it is about 5 to 8 hrs per wedding of time in Adobe Lightroom.

Some of you might be thinking, 5 hrs?!?!?!?  How the heck is that possible?  The answer is simply honing in on your workflow and creating systems that help automate the process, wherever you can…and of course the major reason that can make or break any photographer and how long is needed to edit – getting it right (or wrong) in the camera.  We do our very best to nail the exposure in the camera and that way our editing is merely going through and just giving our images that little extra “pop” that fits into our editing style.  In fact, if you want to instantly become quicker with your photo editing you can start by getting my free Lightroom presets collection that contains 15 rad presets that will give you creative variety with 1 click simplicity.

Today’s tutorial is this portion of the editing process – how to quickly make your images “pop” and how to create and save a preset you have created so you can use again and again and begin to automate your editing.  Here we go…

The image below is the image as taken directly from our camera.  As you can see there isn’t much “fixing” at all that needs to be done for the photo – it looks pretty good coming straight from the camera, but, we can certainly make the image better.  We can add some contrast, brighten the image a bit and even smooth the skin a tad, and maybe even warm up the white balance a bit and I think it will make this good photo into a great one, which is what we are after.

Presets in Adobe Lightroom to Automate Workflow

Step 1 – Apply an already defined preset.  To achieve the look that I have in my mind I am going to use the preset that I had called “Base Boost – Mid Shadows” seen on the left arrow below.  Check out the right arrow below to see the actual sliders and settings.  So what did we do?  We boosted the exposure a tad, added a touch of fill light, increased the black point, a little more brightness, a little less overall contrast which helps reduce any unwanted shadows and a little less clarity to just smooth out the image a little bit.  Instantly with one click this images is way better than the original in my opinion. My standard crisp color edit as shown below is included in my free Lightroom presets collection.

Presets in Adobe Lightroom to Automate Workflow

Step 2 – As with most of our images and editing the presets can get you 85% of the way there, or even 100% if your content with the results and it matches with your image nicely, but, for the majority of the time I make some very quick tweaks to the preset settings just to fine tune the image.  In this specific case I looked at the histogram and the image and wanted to bring out the dark tones a bit more so I increased the black point, I wanted to see a bit more of the details on the dress so added in the highlight recover slider and as I mentioned originally, felt the image could use some warmth so adjusted the white balance accordingly.

Presets in Adobe Lightroom to Automate Workflow

…and here is the final image!  Score.  Looks way better than original and took very few clicks of the mouse to make this image really pop.

Presets in Adobe Lightroom to Automate Workflow

Step 3 – If you already have your presets made then you don’t even need this step, but, if you are creating a brand new preset from the settings you created this is how you do it.  As shown in the diagram below simply click on the “+” symbol which will open up the “new develop preset” window.  It automatically assume you will want to have all the settings in your new preset but you can select or deselect as you desire, just simply give it a name and hit create!  That’s it – you are all done and have your own preset to use over and over 🙂

Presets in Adobe Lightroom to Automate Workflow

The finished product – your preset added into the “User Presets” section.

Presets in Adobe Lightroom to Automate Workflow

I hope that this quick Adobe Lightroom tutorial helps some of you out and gives you some ideas on how you can effectively use presets to help automate your editing workflow.  In this day and age being able to properly edit your photos and not only get the look your after but also do it in an efficient way is huge!  This is especially true when shooting 25+ weddings a year when culling through 1000’s of images at a time.  We will keep adding more tutorials about working with Adobe Lightroom and more importantly sharing some workflow secrets we’ve developed so make sure to subscribe to our website and follow us on Facebook so you can be alerted when more tutorials are posted!

For a video tutorial showing how to create a custom preset in Adobe Lightroom 4, check this out!

Thanks and talk soon,
Cole