How To Edit Wedding Photos Like A Pro

Wedding photography editing is one of the responsibilities that comes with your job. Knowing how to edit wedding photos and taking care of the whole post-production process is a time-consuming, stressful, and tedious part of your post-wedding workflow, which is why we would 100% recommend that you let photo editing experts like us do the heavy lifting, while you can add the finishing touches (if you want) when you get your photos back. However, if that’s a part of the job you are not ready to let go just yet, in this blog, we are going to share some editing tips that will teach you how to edit wedding photos faster and expedite your workflow.

Pick A Wedding Photo Editing Software

infographic stating check out different photo editing software to finalize one that aligns with your needs

Before we dive into our favorite wedding photo editing tips and show you how to get on with the edit phase, we wanted to share a quick guide on why Lightroom is our choice for the post-wedding workflow. Our services are rooted in editing wedding photos in Lightroom, so we wanted to share our expertise on when to use Lightroom for your post-production needs.

1. Why Lightroom?

A. An Efficient Workflow

If you are choosing to do all the editing yourself, then you are going to be dedicating a lot of your time to the post-wedding workflow. So you might as well choose a wedding photo editing software that allows you to build an editing workflow that is efficient, fast, and gets the job done flawlessly. 

When you are learning how to edit wedding photos, you might want to give multiple editing software a try and see what works for you. You could also try to edit wedding photos online. However, Adobe Lightroom as a wedding photo editor 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.

B. Shortcuts

infographic stating shortcuts are key to your speed and overall efficiency

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. Two of the top shortcuts that are worth noting when you are learning editing wedding photos are keyboard keystrokes and presets, which allow you to make significant changes and edits to your images without using too much of your time.

Related Read: Lightroom Shortcuts Library: Keyboard Keys For Windows And Mac

C. 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.

D. Retouching Capabilities 

infographic stating lightroom’s retouching capabilities allow you to enhance plus modify your images

Since every wedding shoot differs, as do the scenarios that happen within a shoot, some of your images may have imperfections, and fixing those is an important part of learning how to edit wedding photos. Lightroom has retouching capabilities that allow you to make adjustments as necessary and enhance the look of images that may have had an error in them initially.

E. Organization Options

Images by Brian Hatton Photography

Organizing all your photos and files is an important part of the post-wedding workflow because if you don’t do that, finding photos is going to become a nightmare. So even before you start learning editing wedding photos, try to get familiar with the organization process. However, when you choose Lightroom as your primary photo editing software, it also comes with multiple organization options. 

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.

Related Read: How To Organize Photos In Lightroom

Basic Wedding Photo Edits Supported By Lightroom

infographic stating from essential and basic to more advanced and creative - Lightroom supports various types of edits

1. Eliminating Haze

One of the first things you will want to hone while learning editing is to get the lighting right. When you have raw wedding photos to edit, the dehaze tool in Lightroom provides a simple way for you to even out hazy light. Unlike previous ways to dehaze in Lightroom, this tool simplifies and speeds up the process. To dehaze your wedding photos, all you have to do is slide a button on a Dehaze 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. 

To master this editing technique in Lightroom, try to first become comfortable with the Dehaze slider bar so you understand how it works. Once you gain some familiarity with it, 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.

You might be wondering why you’d ever need to use the dehaze tool for editing wedding photos, so here are a few photography editing tips that could give you some clarity: 

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

2. Reducing Noise

Image by Brian Hatton Photography

Another flaw that often shows up in images and can be adjusted using Lightroom is digital noise, which is the 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 that 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, which is why we suggest you also familiarize yourself with this step of learning how to edit wedding photos.

There are two types of digital noise that can occur and those are color noise and luminance noise. Color noise occurs where the colors in your photos are distorted. 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). Below are some tips on how to 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.

Suggested Read: How To Reduce Noise In Lightroom

3. Converting Images To Black And White

    Image by Brian Hatton Photography

    Since you don’t always have the time to switch between black and white and color while you are shooting the wedding, you might want to change some images to black and white during the post-production stage. But if you are thinking that’s going to take up too much time and you’d rather just skip this part, here are some reasons why converting images to black and white is worth the time: 

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

    Here are some quick tips on turning images black and white:

    • 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. 

    Suggested Read: Black And White Wedding Photos: Why They Are Timeless

    4. Editing In Batches 

    infographic stating batch editing will save you an exponential amount of time during the editing process

    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. But don’t worry. When you learn editing the wedding photos the right way, you will find this shortcut really helpful. 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.

    However, even though batch editing can save you time, outsourcing wedding photography editing to pros like us can save you an exponential amount of time overall (and help you share your unique photography style with your clients).

    5. Using Spot Removal

    Wedding shoots, in general, can be unpredictable and more often than not, you will need to make some corrections during the post-production stage because getting them flawlessly in camera is not always a possibility. 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.

    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 hair strands
    • Adjust skin 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

    infographic stating for best results, blur each image individually

    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. 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. When you learn how to edit wedding photos, you will realize that 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.

    Related Read: How To Blur The Background In Lightroom

    7. Whitening Teeth

    Image by Brian Hatton Photography

    Some adjustments are done to images to ensure your clients look their best and that is where teeth whitening, which is also a crucial part of learning how to edit photos, 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. And when that happens, it’s probably going to be the only thing they are going to focus on - no matter what a masterpiece you have created. Sometimes your clients will request to have their teeth whitened or other times, you may decide to do so on your own.

    Some things to consider when processing wedding photos to whiten teeth 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 

    infographic stating when added correctly, bokeh will help to highlight your subject naturally

    Another way to add blur in your images, and one of the most popular techniques in photography, bokeh is an effect 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). 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 added correctly, bokeh will help your subjects stand out naturally and attract the viewer’s attention. If bokeh is added incorrectly, it can be off-putting and unpleasant to the eye. Here are a few quick ways 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 thing about 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.

    Related Read: How To Add Bokeh In Lightroom

    9. Removing Glass Glare 

    Glasses glare is often an unwanted aspect of a photo, which is why it is an important part of learning how to edit wedding photos and why it made it on our list of top editing techniques that can transform your wedding photos. 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:

    • Using a small brush
    • Proceeding slowly
    • Stopping 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

      Image by Brian Hatton Photography

      While some steps of learning how to edit wedding photos have to do with fixing errors, others can help you take your images to the next level. The feature of cropping photos in Lightroom allows you to take an ordinary photo and turn it into something extraordinary. Of the photos you take on the wedding day, some will have issues or unwanted elements in them. But the great news is those issues can often be eliminated with the crop feature. When done properly, cropping photos can be key to providing stunning images to your wedding clients. There are various reasons why you might want to crop an image, including:

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

      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 it’s cropped
      • Zooming out to see if the crop works on a smaller scale

      Related Read: Unique Close Cropping Inspiration + Tips From Shootdotedit Customers

      11. Using Presets

      infographic stating using presets in Lightroom helps create a fast and efficient workflow.

      In Lightroom, presets are a series of saved adjustments made consistently on images. As a wedding photographer, you have a unique photography style that is all your own. With that comes similar adjustments that you are likely to do for all your images. 

      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. Here are some things that will help you get familiarized with presets:

      • 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 design them for yourself according to your signature style.
      • Once you have the presets, it is time to practice how to efficiently and quickly apply the style to your images.
      • 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.

      12. Adding Text 

      Now, adding text to wedding photos might not be a very common step during your wedding photography editing process, but there are a few instances where some text may be required. Placing descriptions or titles for identification, including watermarks or identity plates to ensure clients do not incorrectly use photos, and adding metadata to an image for organization or findability, are just a few of the reasons where text may come in handy. 

      Here are some things you may want to keep in mind when it comes to adding text in Lightroom:

      • 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 time frames will be accurate).

      13. Adding Vignette

      Not every image is going to support a vignette effect or be upgraded when a vignette is added to it. So the key to adding a vignette effect to your wedding photos is knowing which ones are going to be transformed by the effect. To add the effect to your photograph, all you will need to do is open your image in the develop module and navigate to the adjustment panel and scroll down to the effects panel. After opening that up, you should see the post-crop vignette section. All you have to do now is drag the slider that adds the vignette effect. The other sliders control the feather, roundness, and midpoint of your vignette. 

      You could also use a basic Adjustment Brush tool in Lightroom to adjust the exposure of the outer edge of your images to achieve the vignette effect. Depending on your signature style, you can decide whether you take the ‘less is more’ road or use a more pronounced vignette in your image. In the end, whatever you do, a viewer’s attention should still instantly go toward your subject/s.

      14. Smoothing Skin

      infographic stating the skin smoothing feature can come in handy when there are harsh shadows or lighting in your photo

      Of the wedding photo edits made to your images that can elevate the quality, smoothing skin is one. 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.

      The brush tool in Lightroom allows you to achieve skin smoothing and is something that, once you learn how to edit wedding photos and practice enough, 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

      Image by Brian Hatton Photography

      Staying on the subject of things that can go wrong and affect your images, a crooked or poorly rotated photo is a common issue but when you learn how to edit wedding photos in Lightroom, you can take care of that problem too. Using this photo editing software, you can actually rotate images to gain a final product that matches your style and is pleasing to the eye.

      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.
      • The original photo was taken at an angle.
      • There is a 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.

      Learn As You Practice

      infographic stating to truly master wedding photography editing, keep practicing and learning new techniques

      Whether you learn how to edit wedding photos in Photoshop or Lightroom, as you can tell - there are several wedding photography editing techniques that you can apply to make each of them look like a masterpiece. The list goes beyond these 15 points, and once you learn the basics of how to edit wedding photos, you can level up from there. Wedding post-production is a highly time-consuming task, no matter how good you get at it and even if you come up with a ‘fast’ and efficient post-production workflow. It’s still going to cost you hours that you could dedicate to doing more important things like meeting clients or shooting weddings, which is why we would recommend outsourcing from the start

      However, we do understand that for most wedding photographers, it’s not so easy and simple to just give up that control and trust someone else to deliver exactly how you (or your clients) expect the wedding photos to look. If you are in your “I need to edit my wedding photos” phase, we suggest that you take the time to perfect your workflow, learn how to edit wedding photos like a pro and meanwhile also look for a wedding photo editing service that will match your style so that when busy season hits, you are not stressing about editing. You don’t have to let it go all at once. As you get busier with clients and weddings, slowly and gradually, you will start valuing your time more and one day realize that you don’t in fact have to bear the responsibility alone. And when that happens, we will be waiting with open arms! 

      Further Read: The Complete Guide To Essential Wedding Photo Edits

      At ShootDotEdit, we strive to help wedding photographers take their business to the next level. To help you dedicate more time to the more important things and to doing things you love, we also help lessen your post-production workload with our professional photo editing services. To learn more about how we can help you, check out our pricing plans.

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