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How to Edit Wedding Photos – ShootDotEdit’s Expert Tips

how to edit wedding photos

As a wedding photographer, editing photography is one of the responsibilities that comes with the job. Knowing how to edit wedding photos is a time-consuming, stressful, and tedious part of your post-wedding workflow. Here at ShootDotEdit, our mission is to empower the success and increase the profit of professional wedding photographers. And because of that, we know your time is better spent on things you love to do (meeting clients and vendors, shooting) rather than on wedding edits.

How to Edit Wedding Photos

As a photo editing service, we provide pro wedding photographers with fast, personalized, and consistent editing services. And even though we believe in doing what you do best and outsourcing the rest, we know that having knowledge about the best editing techniques can be valuable for you. Since we are a company that specializes in wedding photo edits, we put together our top picks for editing techniques that can transform your photography.

Why Use Lightroom?

First, before we dive into our favorite photo editing techniques, we wanted to share a quick guide on why Lightroom is our choice for the post-wedding workflow.
adobe lightroom

We also include how to know when Lightroom is the best choice to use. Our wedding photography editing services are rooted in Lightroom, so we wanted to share our expertise on when to use Lightroom for your post production needs.

Post-Wedding Workflow

As a wedding photographer, much of your time is dedicated to your post-wedding workflow. Adobe Lightroom gives you the ability to upload your photos and work on them simultaneously. Using the Grid View, you can view several of your images at once and work quickly on the tasks that need to be completed.

Images by Brian Hatton Photography

When you outsource your photography editing needs to a wedding editor, like ShootDotEdit, a majority of your work is taken care of and you can still use Lightroom during the process of submitting and receiving jobs back.

Shortcuts

With any part of your workflow, shortcuts are key to your speed and overall efficiency. Lightroom has several options for shortcuts that make your post-wedding workflow fast. 2 of the top shortcuts that are worth noting are keyboard keystrokes and presets.

Images by Brian Hatton Photography

In comparison to other editing platforms, applying shortcuts or presets is faster in Lightroom.

Learnability

As a program to streamline your post-wedding workflow, Lightroom and its features can be challenging at times to learn. With practice, though, implementing Lightroom into your workflow and using its features and techniques for your images can be achieved.

Retouching Capabilities

Since every wedding shoot differs, as do the scenarios that happen within a shoot, some of your images may have imperfections. Lightroom has retouching capabilities that allow you to make adjustments as necessary and enhance the look of images that may have had something wrong in them initially.

Images by Brian Hatton Photography

Organization

As a wedding photographer, you shoot countless images each year. Without organization, it can become overwhelming and downright stressful to manage every image (and keep track of them). Lightroom, without doubt, is an excellent choice for the organization of your wedding photos.

Images by Brian Hatton Photography

The program has image storing capabilities built in, along with other helpful organization tools, including stars, keywords, folders, and catalogs. Lightroom’s organizational features allow you to store images in an easily findable location and utilize them when necessary.

So now that we have highlighted some of the best parts of using Lightroom as a part of your wedding photography workflow, here are our top picks for photography edits.

1. Eliminating Haze

The dehaze tool, in Lightroom, provides a simple way for you to even out the light quality in photos that are hazy. Unlike previous ways to dehaze in Lightroom, this tool simplifies and speeds up the process. To dehaze your wedding photography, all you have to do is slide a button on a slider bar. Now, it takes merely a few steps to adjust the haziness out of the photos from the beginning of the process to the end.

You might be wondering why it can be valuable to eliminate haze in your wedding photography. There are a few reasons why:

  • Creating sharp lines and clear subjects
  • Enhancing saturated colors
  • Boosting the photo’s structure

Image by Brian Hatton Photography

As a company that assists professional photographers with their editing needs, we have a few wedding photo editing tips for how to eliminate haze:

  • Become comfortable with the dehaze slider bar so you understand how it works.
  • Always save a copy of your wedding images so you do not lose your original work.
  • Get creative. Experiment with the dehaze slider bar to see the results when you slide it all the way to one side or the other.

2. Reducing Noise

A flaw that can happen to your images that often needs adjusting is digital noise, which is discoloration of an image. One way to tell if your image has digital noise is if when you zoom in, the image appears pixelated. Digital noise often occurs in images which were shot in low light. And as a wedding photographer, there are plenty of scenarios where you will shoot in low light with your clients.

Image by Brian Hatton Photography

There are 2 types of digital noise that can occur and those are color noise and luminance noise. If you notice the color is distorted in your photo, that is known as color noise. When you see grain on your images, that is luminance noise (which refers to the brightness of the photo instead of the colors).

Your unique photography style will determine which type of noise to have adjusted (or both).

Some of our favorite tips to help create a smooth process for reducing noise in Lightroom:

  • Shoot in RAW to ensure you have the highest quality format for your wedding images.
  • Zoom to 100 on each image before you reduce the noise, so you can have more control.
  • Adjust the color noise before you fix the luminance noise.
  • Sharpen landscapes with the Detail slider.

3. Converting to Black and White

Depending on your unique wedding photography style, you may want to convert images from your shoots to black and white. You may have several reasons to convert wedding photos to black and white.

Some of the most common reasons to do so are:

  • Highlight the most memorable moments
  • Create variety from the shoot
  • Enhance bland photos
  • Combat unfavorable lighting conditions

Image by Brian Hatton Photography

A few quick tips we have about turning images black and white are:

  • Train yourself to know what moments would be best to convert into black and white while you are shooting. That way, when you import photos from a shoot, you can easily star or tag the images you will need to convert to black and white.
  • Create a preset for your favorite black and white adjustments made in Lightroom. This will help you apply the style to multiple images, rather than needing to work on each individually. To learn more about presets, stay tuned; we talk more about the best ways to use and create them below.

4. Editing in Batches

After the wedding day, there are hundreds of images that need to be edited, which can take hours away from your workflow (then add in every wedding you shoot this year and that workload increases drastically). Rather than editing every single image, batch editing saves an exponential amount of time during this part of the post-wedding workflow.

Batch editing in Lightroom makes it easier (and faster) to edit groups of similar photos. The idea behind a successful batch edit is to make adjustments to the first image so it is exactly how you want it to be. After that, you can use automated processes to adjust the rest of the images from the group, in the exact same way.

The benefits of using batch editing in Lightroom are:

  • Ensuring each photo within a set has a complementary look that is all your own
  • Providing consistency to your post-processing system
  • Saving time in your post-wedding workflow*

Tip: Batch editing can save you time, though outsourcing editing to image editing services, like ShootDotEdit, saves you an exponential amount of time overall (and helps you share your unique photography style with your clients).

5. Using Spot Removal

Wedding shoots, in general, can be unpredictable and often can cause unwanted issues in your photography. The Spot Removal tool in Lightroom (or the Clone Stamp and Healing Brush tools in Photoshop) provides the option to clone or heal areas of the images that need to be fixed (which is perfect for wedding shoots that do not turn out as expected).

Image by Brian Hatton Photography

When your goal is to exactly replicate an area of your image onto the area that needs to be fixed, choose clone in the Spot Removal tool. If you want to match the texture, lighting, and shading of the sampled area to the selected area of the image, use heal in the Spot Removal tool.

There are several issues that may occur in your photography that require the use of the Spot Removal tool as a solution. Some of the most common use cases are to:

  • Eliminate unwanted objects or subjects
  • Clean up stray hairs
  • Adjust skim blemishes or imperfections
  • Remove distractions (especially in the background)
  • Erase lint, spots, and crumbs on clothing
  • Get rid of specks of dust on the camera sensor

6. Blurring Parts of Images

The blur feature in both Lightroom and Photoshop is a way to add additional effects to wedding images. Many wedding photographers use the blur feature to create a focal point, to enhance the ambiance, and to remove unnecessary (or unwanted) elements.

Image by Brian Hatton Photography

Digging into our collection of wedding photo editing tips, here are a few ways to succeed in blurring the background in Lightroom:

  • For the best results, blur each image individually.
  • Work in the Develop module when blurring images.
  • Take time to experiment with different degrees of sharpness to discover various effects.
  • Click the adjustment brush to reset settings. Then, toggle between basic and custom settings while using the blur feature.

Another effect to create is to blur just the background in Lightroom. This editing technique is ideal for scenarios where you were unable to capture the perfect focal balance in the moment or if you want to add finesse to your images. Just like we mentioned in the first paragraph of this section, there are several reasons to blur the background of your images. The reasons are also the same: to create a focal point, to enhance the ambiance, and to remove unnecessary (or unwanted) elements.

The amount of blur to use in the background will differ depending on your style and the overall goal of how you want the image to look.

A few quick tips for the sharpness settings you use to blur your images are:

  • Try to set your sharpness to -100 for blurred backgrounds. Since you have a unique photography style, you will likely adjust this setting until it fits your specific look.
  • Try to set your sharpness of the entire photo to -50 to create ambiance. Adjust as necessary until it matches your unique photography style and vision for the blur.

7. Whitening Teeth

Some adjustments that are done to images are to ensure your clients look their best and that is where teeth whitening during the wedding photo editing process comes in. Depending on the shoot, lighting and shadows could darken teeth in an undesirable way. Even if your clients have the whitest teeth, they can appear less than perfect in photos because of the natural ivory color of teeth, effects of natural settings, and effects from the camera. Sometimes your clients will request to have their teeth whitened or other times, you may decide to do so on your own.

Image by Brian Hatton Photography

This is a feature that can be done in both Lightroom and Photoshop. For now, we will focus on Lightroom’s tool for whitening teeth.

Some things to consider when using the teeth whitening tool in Lightroom are:

  • Choose the correct brush size. For the best results, you will need to start with a brush size that fits the size of the teeth. The smaller the brush, the longer it will take to apply the effect to an entire smile. Though, it will give you the most complete and effective look.
  • Decide if you want to use auto mask. Additional features in Lightroom, such as the auto mask tool, can assist you in applying the whitening effect just to the teeth. The auto mask option uses the edges of the elements in the photo as a boundary. This makes it easier to use the Lightroom teeth whitening tools more precisely. The downside to the auto mask tool is that it works best with clean edges and you could be working with uneven teeth.

8. Adding Bokeh

As another option for including blur to your images, and one of the most popular techniques in photography, bokeh is a technique that is added to an image for several reasons. Sometimes, it is used to force the viewer’s eye to focus on one part of the photo (in many cases, this would be your clients).

Image by Brian Hatton Photography

Bokeh is used for wedding photography for a few different reasons, including:

  • Creating a romantic atmosphere for wedding photography
  • Bringing the subject to the foreground of the image and allowing minor subjects to blur into the background

When applied correctly, your subjects will naturally pop off the background and create a pleasant experience for viewers. If bokeh is added incorrectly, it can be off-putting and unpleasant to the eye. Here are a few quicks to help with the process of adding bokeh in Lightroom to photos:

  • Get comfortable with the blur tools in Lightroom before applying the technique to your images.
  • Practice makes perfect. Learning how to add bokeh can take some time, so continue to practice the technique.

The ideal part of adding bokeh to your wedding images is it allows you to place focus on the bride and groom. In turn, this creates the illusion they are the only ones in the room with all their guests and loved ones. It also works well for details, such as the wedding cake. In this scenario, you can blur the other items on the table into the background.

9. Removing Glasses Glare

Glasses glare is often an unwanted aspect of a photo, which is why it made our list of top editing techniques that can transform your photography. Many are familiar with removing glare in Photoshop, but since our post production services for photographers are primarily Lightroom-based, we are going to cover the details about how it works in Lightroom.

There are a few techniques to remove glasses glare from images. The first technique is to use the Spot Removal tool, which we talked about earlier in this post. The Spot Removal tool allows you to remove unnecessary elements from images. The tool can be used to eliminate glasses glare, though it is a much more delicate process. When you remove glasses glare, you work within a smaller area and have much less room for error.

Some key steps to remember while removing glasses glare with the Spot Removal tool are to:

  • Use a small brush
  • Proceed slowly
  • Stop often to double check your work

The second technique is to learn how to clone. As mentioned earlier, you would choose clone in the Spot Removal tool to exactly replicate an area of your image onto the part of the image that needs to be fixed. A few key things to remember when learning how to clone to remove glasses glare are to:

  • Proceed slowly and double check your work as you go. As a company that believes in a fast and efficient workflow, it is better to check your work after making adjustments so that if something is wrong, you can quickly identify and correct it before moving on to the rest of your images.
  • Zoom out to check your progress. You will need to work up close to grab and replace areas of the image, but viewing the image at regular size allows you to see the entirety of your images in context (so you can see if everything looks correct).

10. Cropping Photos

The feature of cropping photos in Lightroom is one that can take an ordinary photo and turn it into something that is extraordinary. Of the photos you take on the wedding day, some will have issues or unwanted elements in them. The great news is those issues can often be eliminated with the crop feature.

There are various reasons why you might want to crop an image, including:

  • Removing distracting elements from the edge
  • Placing focus on the subjects
  • Creating better composition
  • Delivering photos filled with interest

Image by Brian Hatton Photography

Here are a few things to consider when cropping your images, including:

  • Using the Rule of Thirds
  • Leveling a photo
  • Dimming the screen to receive a clear view of how the image will look once its cropped
  • Zooming out to see if the crop works on a smaller scale

When done properly, cropping photos can be key to providing stunning images to your wedding clients.

11. Using Presets

In Lightroom, presets are a series of saved adjustments make consistently on images. As a wedding photographer, you have a unique photography style that is all your own. With that comes similar adjustments that are to your images. Here at ShootDotEdit, we believe in showcasing your unique style and that is why we provide fast, personalized, and custom editing services to help you deliver your style on every image.

Using presets in Lightroom helps create a fast and efficient workflow for wedding images and can save an exponential amount of time when it comes to editing wedding photos.

Images by Brian Hatton Photography

When you first learn about using presets for your images, there are a few steps, as listed below:

  • First, it is necessary to take the steps to learn how presets will affect your wedding photos. This will help you learn which style best matches your photography and what will be a part of your preset.
  • Then, you can make the decision to buy presets (from another photographer or company) or have a photo editing company like ShootDotEdit design presets for you.
  • Once you have the presets, it is time to practice how to efficiently and quickly apply the style to your images.

You may be wondering, “why should I use presets in Lightroom for my wedding photos?” Here are a few reasons:

  • You will cut time from your post-wedding workflow. Rather than individually editing every image in your job, the preset will help you apply the style to all images necessary.
  • Your images will be consistent and recognizable. A key to sharing your unique photography style with ideal clients is to have consistent work they can recognize. Presets allow you to place a consistent style to your images that helps you share more about who you are as a photographer and what you will provide to clients.

12. Creating Presets

Many pro wedding photographers worldwide partner with an outsource wedding photo editing company, like ShootDotEdit, to develop presets and have them applied to their images.

Image by Brian Hatton Photography

These are a few tips we’ve learned when it comes to creating presets:

  • Take note of how a preset can change the look and feel of the images.
  • Apply presets to images AFTER color correction is complete.
  • Avoid “setting and forgetting” a preset. Check each photo to ensure the preset enhances the photo.
  • Take some time to get a feel for presets before applying them to every photo.
  • Save the best presets in a separate folder. They can be labeled “favorites” for easy access.

13. Adding Text

As a wedding photographer, there are several reasons you might add text to your images in Lightroom. A few common reasons for this are:

  • Placing descriptions or titles for identification
  • Including watermarks or identity plates to ensure clients do not incorrectly use photos
  • Adding metadata to an image for organization or findability

Image by Brian Hatton Photography

Some of the tips we have learned about adding text in Lightroom are:

  • Try to get an idea of what text you would like to add before setting it up. This will ensure you do not spend too much time in the process of adding text.
  • Keep it consistent. Make a decision on how you will use text for images going forward. If you want to add metadata to images, add watermarks, or add text onto an image, make that decision consistent across every shoot (that way, you know what to expect and your timeframes will be accurate).

Adding text to your images in Lightroom is another way you create a unique photography style you can share with your wedding clients.

14. Smoothing Skin

Of the wedding photo edits made to your images that can elevate the quality, smoothing skin is one of them. Depending on your unique photography style, you may already include skin smoothing as a part of your services. The adjustments made as a part of smoothing skin will depend on whether you are looking for a natural look or a more commercial feel for the images.

Image by Brian Hatton Photography

The brush tool in Lightroom allows you to achieve skin smoothing and is something that with practice, can be easily applied to achieve your desired effects. There are options to adjust the size, feather, flow, and density to apply the correct adjustment once placed on the image.

These are a few recommended steps to take before smoothing skin in Lightroom:

  • Make sure the photo is properly exposed, as an underexposed image can have more noticeable marks that need to be smoothed out.
  • Crop the photo (if necessary).
  • Adjust the white balance as needed.
  • Remove unwanted elements, such as stray hairs.
  • Work on global image edits, such as brightness, contrast, color saturation, and vibrancy.

Once these adjustments are made, you can then work on skin smoothing as you need to. There are both simple and advanced methods for smoothing skin in Lightroom, which affects the control you have over the areas you need to smooth with the brush tool.

15. Rotating Images

Staying on the subject of things that can go wrong and affect your images, a crooked or poorly rotated photo is a common issue to have. In Lightroom, though, you can rotate images to gain a final product that matches your style and is pleasing to the eye.

Image by Brian Hatton Photography

A few reasons why you might want to rotate images in Lightroom are:

  • Elements in the photo appear slightly tilted.
  • You want the final photo to be a mirror image of the original.
  • You took the original photo at an angle.
  • You want to use an angle to create perspective.

Some of the most common ways to rotate a photo in Lightroom are:

  • Rotating a Photo by 90 Degrees
  • Flipping a Photo to its Mirror Image
  • Straightening a Photo in Lightroom

Rotating images in Lightroom is another way to overcome obstacles from the wedding day, and is something that can quickly be done when needed.

There are several options for how to edit wedding photos, and these are just a few of our top picks. And even though it is valuable to have an education on all things editing photography, we still believe in our overall mission, which is to empower the success and increase the profits of professional wedding photographers.

And that translates to outsourcing areas of your business that are time-consuming and non profit-generating, such as wedding photo editing. Have questions about our photo editing services? Chat with us online and learn more about how we take the pain and headache of editing off of your plate, allowing you to focus on things you love and that will help your wedding photography business grow.

And, discover additional tips and tricks for creating a fast and streamlined post-wedding workflow in Lightroom with expert, Jared Platt in our Online Training: Advanced Lightroom Skillsets! Throughout the Online Training, Jared focuses on the best ways to maximize your time in Lightroom, including:

  • Advanced image retouching
  • Fast implementation of curves
  • Easy profiling of cameras
  • Creating consistent photographic styles
  • … and more!

Click on the banner below to access the Online Training and learn more from the Lightroom and workflow expert.

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