3 Easy Fixes for Consistent Photo Editing

Easy Fixes for Consistent Photo Editing

So something I hear ALL the time in the photography community is people striving for consistency in their edits.  And with that all the obstacles along the way.  I want to touch on some things that can be quick and easy fixes that will drastically help in this arena. 

Here it is.  Plain and simple the biggest thing that will boost your consistency in post production.

EDIT IN A CONSISTENT SPACE!!  Stop carrying your laptop around with you and editing in coffee shops, restaurants, and random spaces with random lighting.  Have you ever worked at the coffee shop on a session and then came home and had to do tweaks on alllll that shit because it just looks off.  Probably, I think we’ve all been there.  If the light hitting your screen is different every time you’re working than it’s no wonder your edits are all over the place.  If you want to work outside of your office to get a break from it, than spend those days working on other business projects.  I know you have plenty of non-editing work to do. Save your editing for days you can be in the office in a controlled environment.  

After working for a major canvas provider on the pre-press editing team I can tell you that our edits and color had to be consistent or we would get pinged.  How did we achieve this across several individuals working on different computers? 

First and most importantly we worked in what was basically a cave.  Blackout drapes on windows and each individual had a small desk lamp that let out just enough light to see the things sitting on your tabletop.  Sounds creepy but it was actually super chill and pretty comforting to be in that lowlight environment.  This helped us to actually be able to see what was rendered on our monitors accurately because there was very little competition in light sources.  Your monitor should be your primary light source when editing.  My home office has a blackout blind I pull down when I edit and a small desk lamp to keep my eyes from straining too much.  Yes your eyes are going to hurt if you aren’t used to editing for 8-10 straight hours, this is just the way it is until you get used to it.  Take breaks every 20-30 minutes and just look away for a minute.  Look away doesn’t mean look at your phone, you need to give your eyes a chance to relax and focus on something at a distance.  Instead of getting depressed because you have to work in the dark. Think about it as constructing your own dark and moody day spa salt cave-esque room.  Light a scented candle and enjoy the dim light while getting some shit done!

Second, color calibrated monitors.  There is no excuse for not doing this.  You can get a great system online for a couple hundred bucks.  If you’re going to be a professional, than be one and calibrate your shit!  Oh and this isn’t a “one and done” sort of fix, you need to calibrate every few months.  I suggest i1 Display or Spyder, I’ve used both and would recommend either.  You can set up a reminder to pop up when you’re at your calibration deadline so you know it’s time to do it again. Don’t think because you bought a fancy expensive mac that you can skip this step. Macs need calibration tooooo :)

Third.  Go above and beyond. Don’t rely on a magical preset to do the work for you.  With that being said, I use presets.  Presets I’ve built out for my own personal style.  And they’re awesome time saving tools, but I don’t rely on them to get me to the finish line with every image every time.  They are a great starting place and sometimes I do click it and love it right away but this is not the norm. It pisses me off that a lot of presets are marketed as a one click solution.  I would seriously hate for my clients to think I clicked one button on an image and moved on. Spend some time getting to know Lightroom + Photoshop and the tools available so that you can go into an image in depth if need be.  If an image isn’t looking right than spend some time trying to make it work and match your vibe.  If it doesn’t after putting in some extra effort than by all means, trash that boi!  We’re artists who take pride in what we make, we should know our craft well.  Part of this responsibility is knowing the tools of the trade and how they can be useful to us.  

My husband, Jared, is a scientist/process engineer.  Most of what his job entails is establishing consistency in analytical testing in lab equipment.  He has to find problems and eliminate them so that every batch made is the same and their clients are receiving reliable trustworthy product.  We should be doing this as artists to a certain extent.  Now I’m not saying removing room to play and grow creatively.  But if we can eliminate stressors in the post-prod world than we can know in a more real way if an edit or idea is working or not when we do try something outside of the box.  Find your baseline and work outwards from there.  Don’t go in blind.

These are smallish totally achievable changes that will greatly improve your workflow.  I can tell you my work changed drastically when I made these changes. Give it a go, I think you’ll be happy with your results!  Below you’ll see comparisons of older images I’ve delivered to clients paired with a new edit since implementing these suggestions. Take a look at how despite different lighting scenarios the overall color + contrast consistency is there in the newer images.

To my clients from years passed, thank you for allowing me photograph you. I have learned so much from you giving me a chance and have grown in my craft because of that experience. I wouldn’t be where I am now without you <3

Before

After

consistent-editing-rachael-bowman-photography_0002.jpg
 comparison of two edits on a wedding ring shot
 photographic editing comparison between 2 wedding portrait photos
consistent-editing-rachael-bowman-photography_0007.jpg
 comparison of two bridal portraits with different editing techniques
consistent-editing-rachael-bowman-photography_0003.jpg
 

New Work

Now let’s see how this applies to our overall portfolio and how it’s become much more cohesive as a body of work since implementing these changes. It took some time and trial and error to get here but I feel that the work we are delivering to our clients is consistent.

 Intimate wedding at JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, NC
consistent-editing-rachael-bowman-photography_0013.jpg
 Downtown Raleigh headshot session with McKeeman Communications
consistent-editing-rachael-bowman-photography_0015.jpg
 engagement session at old waynesborough park in goldsboro nc
consistent-editing-rachael-bowman-photography_0017.jpg
consistent-editing-rachael-bowman-photography_0018.jpg