How I Cut My Editing Workflow Time in Half

How I Cut My Editing Workflow Time in Half | Mastin Labs

I know a lot of photographers who spend a full 40 hours editing weddings. Until recently, I could have easily spent two full days tweaking and editing a set of wedding photos myself.

As I scaled my business and brought on three associate photographers to shoot weddings under my brand, a slow editing workflow simply wasn’t sustainable. On any given Monday, I might have as many as 7,000 photos to cull and edit—and I personally edit about 80% of the photos that go through my studio—so having an efficient culling and editing system means everything to my business.

Here are the tools and methods I’ve used to cut my editing workflow in half and make editing energizing and fun for me again.

In Camera: Slow Down, and Shoot Less

When I started playing with film, I started to value every shot more, because every shutter click had real dollars tied to it. This taught me to slow down, evaluate each photo, take the time to frame it exactly how I wanted it and to wait for the right moment.

I now shoot around 1,000-1,200 images per wedding. I’m delivering the majority of these to the client, and I spend far less time cropping images than I used to.

In Camera: Expo Disc

What do you spend the most time on in your editing workflow? For many of us, it’s white balance. An Expo Disc will help you get your white balance right in camera, which saves a ton of time during the editing process.

I also recommend learning how to set your white balance manually using Kelvin Temperatures when you’re using your flash.

Culling: Photo Mechanic

I hemmed and hawed over whether to buy Photo Mechanic to cull my photos, and the photo community gave me unanimous advice:

“Do it. Do it now. You won’t regret it.”

If you’re culling your images to select your picks in Bridge or Lightroom, you’re probably familiar with the short load time between images. With Photo Mechanic, the images load instantly to allow you to rate the photos that you want to keep. If you’re culling through 2,000 images, this will save you more than an hour of load time.

Editing: Mastin Labs

Even before I started shooting a bit of film, I always loved the classic look of it. I’m a Fuji 400H Neutral girl all the way. I love my photos clean and warm. Once I get my photos into Lightroom, I apply this preset to the first image, and then I sync it across all of my other images as my starting point. From there, I’ll go through to make sure everything has proper exposure and white balance, plus a nice clean crop (I love my straight lines).

Editing: Palette Gear

Palette Gear has quickly become a game changer for how I edit. I’m almost embarrassed to tell you that I used to use my keyboard and trackpad for everything. By the time I was done editing, my hand would be sore.

With Palette, you can build out a set of customizable buttons, dials and sliders to edit with. Want to tweak exposure or white balance in Lightroom? Turn a dial, and it’s done. I’ve included my recommended set-up for Palette gear below:

Palette Photo Mechanic Set-up:

  • 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.

Palette Lightroom Set-up:

  • 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 my setup for fine tuning in Lightroom. I batch edit as often as I can, 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 may 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 also use the slider for cropping. I recommend going to your advanced options and changing the sensitivity from 45 to 10. This gives you a little more control when you just need to do a little tweaking to straighten out crooked images.

Taking the time to address my workflow made me an efficient editor. The effort that it took to fine-tune this process has allowed my photography business to reach new heights in scalability.