how to batch edit in lightroom

As a photographer, your post-wedding workflow is one of the most time-consuming areas of your photography business. This is especially true when it comes to editing images. Editing every single image after a wedding shoot is a huge endeavor best taken on by digital photography editing services, like ShootDotEdit. And since we believe in creating a fast and efficient workflow, knowing how to batch edit in Lightroom can save a tremendous amount of time.

As a company that provides a lot of different wedding photo edit service options, we know how important it is to find ways to speed up your workflow. And although our photo editing service online takes care of the majority of your photo editing needs, we know it is important for you to understand how certain actions in Lightroom are performed. This is especially true when it comes to editing groups of photos. That’s why we put together a guide on how to batch edit in Lightroom to speed up your workflow.

How to Batch Edit in Lightroom

Batch editing, whether you are working in Lightroom, Photoshop, or another photo editing software with the feature, makes it faster and easier to edit groups of similar photos. The basic concept is you edit the first photo so it is exactly the way you want it. From there, you can then use automated processes to edit the rest of the photos from the group in the exact same way.

The use of batch edit Lightroom naturally works best with groups of photos that have similar characteristics. Examples of this can be setting and lighting. The consistencies in these photos make it possible to use many of the same edits on each and still achieve a quality result. Batch editing is more effective with general edit settings such as overall exposure, contrast, and even color settings, while more detailed editing tasks (such as skin smoothing or teeth whitening) should still be completed on an individual basis.

Suggested Read: How To Edit Wedding Photos Like A Pro

The Benefits of Using Batch Edit in Lightroom

Understanding how to batch edit photos in Lightroom can have many benefits for your editing processes and your business as a wedding photographer. Most obviously, making use of a Lightroom batch edit can save you hours of time compared to editing each photo individually.

A batch edit process can also ensure each photo within a set has a complimentary look, making finished packages of your photos even more attractive to your wedding clients and prospective customers. It can also provide consistency to your post-processing system, ensuring you do not miss key editing steps on a photo.

Reduce Time Spent in Post Production

Using batch edit in Lightroom can make a significant difference in the percentage of your work time dedicated to processing the many photos you have taken. Instead of repeating the same edits to dozens or hundreds of photos that are similarly underexposed, you can correct the first, then use Lightroom batch edit to apply the same corrections to subsequent photos. This makes the editing process much faster and far less tedious.

Quick Tip

When you outsource photo editing to a photo edit service, like ShootDotEdit, you can even more time in your workflow. Your images will be taken care of while you work on other tasks to help your photography business grow.

Create Consistent Photo Sets

Batch edit Lightroom features also establish a greater consistency across groups of photos for the same client. By using exactly the same filters and edits to all of the photos in a particular group, you can ensure that your image packages will flow together, resulting in clients that are even more pleased with your work. Potential clients will also be looking for a consistent editing style within photos from the same wedding, making it an important goal for your photography.

Automate Your Editing Process

By bringing this unique level of automation to the more redundant aspects of your post-processing system, you can also prevent the incongruence between images that can result from human error. If you miss a key step in the basic editing process, especially if you do not notice until much later, that photo could stand out from the rest. Plus, it may be difficult to identify the missing edits and make the needed corrections. Batch editing removes the potential for these frustrations.

Steps to Batch Edit in Lightroom

You have 2 main options when it comes to how to batch edit photos in Lightroom. You can use a Lightroom preset or one you have created or you can batch edit photos Lightroom style based on edits to a new photo. Using a preset is the faster route and can even be completed as your photos are imported into Lightroom. On the other hand, batch editing based on a new photo allows you to more effectively fine-tune the edits to that specific photo set.

How to Batch Edit in Lightroom Using a Preset

Batch editing using Lightroom presets is all about saving even more time on editing your photos. You can take advantage of the presets Lightroom provides by default or reuse a preset you created in the past. The disadvantage to a batch edit photos Lightroom has is that presets may not exactly match the needs for your current photos.

1. Start the import process in Lightroom. The first step is to select the photos that will be edited with the same preset or set of presets. You can start the process to import those images into Lightroom through the Import button or from the File menu then use Select a Source to choose the specific files to edit. You can also import your files into Lightroom by dragging files or a folder into the Grid view in Lightroom.

lightroom import

2. Select the settings for the imported photos in the Lightroom catalog. Before importing the images, you can select how they will be stored in the Lightroom catalog system.

lightroom import settings
Images by Brian Hatton Photography

From the menu on the Import window, you may choose from the following import options:

  • Copy as DNG. Photos are copied to the selected folder and raw files are converted to Digital Negative (DNG) format.
  • Copy. Photos are simply copied to the selected folder.
  • Move. Photos are removed from their current location and put in the selected folder. Learn more about Lightroom folders and how to keep them organized with this post.
  • Add. Keeps the photos you import in the current location.

3. Choose the specific files to be imported into Lightroom. The next step in the process is choosing the photos that will be imported into Lightroom for this session. You can use the “All Photos” option to import all the files or “New Photos” to import everything that has yet to be imported.

choose files lightroom import

To be more detailed in your selection, you can click on individual files to add or remove them to the import group. If you are making a copy or moving photos, you can also choose to group photos by their destination folder.

4. Choose the destination for your imported photos in the Lightroom catalog. If you are moving or copying your photos to import them into Lightroom, you will need to select the location from the “To” options on the Import menu.

lightroom file import destination
Images by Brian Hatton Photography

You can also choose from additional options including copying or moving files to a new subfolder or organizing photos based on the original hierarchy or by date.

5. Specify edits to apply to photos during import. To save even more time by eliminating steps, you can apply specific edits to the photos as they are imported, letting you import photos to Lightroom and make basic edits to those photos at the same time.

change develop setting lightroom
Images by Brian Hatton Photography

The Develop Settings menu within the Apply During Import option lets you apply any Develop settings presets to photos as they import to Lightroom.

6. Import your photos to Lightroom. Learn more about how to import RAW files into Lightroom with our blog post that covers the steps here.

import images into lightroom
Images by Brian Hatton Photography

7. As needed, select a photo to preview additional presets before applying. Choose one of the imported photos that represent the group. This will work as a preview for the effect of additional presets on those photos. From the drop-down box in Saved Preset, you can choose from previously saved presets and view their effect on the photo.

8. Apply the preset to the selected photos. Once you have settled on the preset that works best for your images, apply it to the full set of photos. Again, you can specifically choose the photos you want an individual preset to be used on. Or, you can apply the selected preset to all of the imported photos. Click on the Sync button. Set the metadata for the files. Then, click on the Synchronize button to update the selected images with the chosen preset.

Apply Batch Edits from a New Photo Edit

Unlike using presets, batch editing photos are based on a new photo edit. This allows you to edit a group of photos with settings that are more precise to that specific group of photos. This approach will give your wedding photography a more quality and nuanced approach. It can also be combined with an initial preset batch edit so you have a jump start on the changes.

1. Import the photos to Lightroom. If your images have not already been imported to Lightroom, you will need to add them to Lightroom in the same way as you would for batch editing using a preset. Start the import process, enter the settings, choose the files to be imported, and select the destination for the imported photos.

2. Select the sample photo for editing and make the changes. Choose one of the imported photos as a representative of the group as a preview for the effect of your edits on the full group of photos. At this stage, you can edit the entire photo in the Develop module just as if it is the only one you intend to edit.

edit the sample photo lightroom
Image by Brian Hatton Photography

From broader edits such as exposure and lighting to details like removing unwanted elements, you can edit this initial photo to its final state. You can only apply some of these changes to the full set of imported photos.

3. Apply edits to the entire batch of photos or selected photos. While you have the edited image select, use multi-select to add other images to the selection. Click on the Sync button, then choose the settings or edits you want to sync from the edited photo to the selected photos.

select images to sync lightroom
Image by Brian Hatton Photography

Click on the Synchronize button to sync those settings across all of the images you selected.

synchronize edits lightroom
Image by Brian Hatton Photography

General Guidelines for Batch Editing

Batch editing within Lightroom is a powerful tool for speeding up your photo editing workflow. However, since it is an automated process, and every image you take is different, it is not a perfect solution you should rely on for providing the final photos. Batch editing can get you quite close to the finished product in some cases. But, some edits simply do not work with batch editing. In addition, presets and batch edits will never bring the level of results that professional, intentional editing can bring.

1. Use general settings for batch edits. Batch editing lends itself much more to broader changes than to more detailed edits. Some examples of the settings that work well for batch editing include white balance, exposure, tone curve, color adjustments, and noise reductions. More detailed edits should be reserved for a photo-by-photo basis.

2. Take the time to fine-tune each image. As a tool for improving your post-processing workflow, batch edits should only be considered a starting point. Small changes in photos can make a significant difference in how batch edits apply to an individual photo. This makes it important to view and adjust each photo on its own after the batch edit. This also ensures you do not miss flaws in an image that needs to be corrected.

Understanding how to batch edit in Lightroom can transform your workflow. This is especially true when it comes to how much time it takes you to edit a set of images. Even if you outsource editing to a photographer editor like ShootDotEdit, this is a valuable skill to have.

Further Read: Top 5 Advanced Lightroom Tips

Advanced Lightroom Skillsets

For additional ways to speed up your workflow, access our Online Training: Advanced Lightroom Skillsets with Jared Platt. Throughout our Online Training, Jared focuses on how to maximize Lightroom to create a fast and efficient post-wedding workflow.

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