I’m a big proponent of outsourcing editing in my wedding photography business. There’s probably nothing more painful to me than the thought of trudging through 800-1000 images from each wedding I photograph. However, when it comes to my favorite few images from each job, the ones that I’ll share on social media or use to update my website, I take a dive into Lightroom and Photoshop and enjoy every second of it.
From speaking to newer photographers, I’m learning that many of them aren’t using Photoshop in their businesses and workflow, but instead are utilizing Lightroom for 90-100% of their post-processing. One of the newest trends is being able to retouch in Lightroom, rather than having to do it solely in Photoshop. There’s nothing that flows about doing half the post-processing in Lightroom and then having to jump into Photoshop to finish things up image-by-image. Personally, I don’t have nearly enough experience in Lightroom or teaching its advanced techniques, so I interviewed Adobe Lightroom Certified Instructor and upcoming WPPI speaker, Dave Doeppel, about how his workflow evolved this year in his Pinup and Boudoir business and how the rest of us can do the same.
Vanessa: You have a very unique look to your images. What is your overall process to pull off this look that shows off your brand so well?
Dave: My Pinup photographs are heavily post-processed to get the look I want. This requires Photoshop and lots of high-end techniques like Frequency Separation, Dodge and Burn, and a handful of specific actions. On the Boudoir and Portrait side of my business, I do not need as much, if any, post processing and rarely do I need to go into Photoshop unless I wanted to do a bit of skin smoothing or clean up some blemishes.
Vanessa: Why did you rely mostly on Photoshop, rather than Lightroom, initially?
Dave: In previous versions of Lightroom, it just wasn't possible to do much of that work and you really needed to look to Photoshop for it. Lightroom 5 has changed that; the Adjustment Brush and the Spot Removal tool work far better than previous versions. Using the Spot Removal Tool in Heal mode does a fabulous job of clearing up blemishes. Now, the Adjustment Brush also comes with some defaults, one of them being Soften Skin. What does it do? It dials the Clarity slider all the way down to -100. Does it smooth the skin? Yes. Does it look good? Not really. So, I still never did much retouching in Lightroom.
Vanessa: You’ve since adopted Lightroom into your workflow more. How did that change?
Dave: Earlier this year I was at WPPI in Las Vegas. Since I’m known as a Lightroom guy, other attendees kept asking me if I knew about the Lightroom Retouching Kit. There was quite a buzz going on so I figured I better check it out. I searched them out and found their booth, got a nice little demo on it, and I bought it. It seemed pretty cool and it looked like it would fill a need for many photographers that needed to do some basic retouching but are just too intimidated by Photoshop, and it is reasonably priced.
Vanessa: Lightroom Retouching Toolkit?
Dave: The Lightroom Retouching Toolkit (LRT) is a set of 48 Lightroom brushes that work with the Adjustment Brush. They are available in the drop down for not only the Adjustment Brush but for the Graduated and Radial filters as well. The later will allow you to create some cool effects like sun flare.
When you look at the drop down you will find the presets are appropriately labeled and easy to figure out what they do. They start with a couple of general adjustments for Brighten/Darken functions and then into the cornerstone of this kit, the Beauty Brushes. For the most part, I have stayed with the standard Beauty Brush. If I need more I simply click New and brush again. If it’s too much, you can either tweak individual settings or collapse the adjustments with the arrow and you can lower the overall adjustment, almost like Layer Opacity in Photoshop.
Moving down the list, I apply some makeup tweaks with Blush, Eye Shadow and Eyeliner, and some work on the eyes themselves with Eye Whitener and enhancements based on eye color, then finally hair, lips and some more customized skin adjustments
Vanessa: Now that Lightroom 5 and the Lightroom Retouching Toolkit help you in your workflow, how much time do you save not using Photoshop as frequently?
Dave: Just the fact that I can stay in Lightroom and not have to make that trip into Photoshop saves me tons of time. Even for images that I will need to do retouching in Photoshop, I can do some preliminary work in Lightroom first so that they will be good enough to send to clients for their selection process, and then only further retouch the selected images. Not having to do major retouching on every image is a huge time saver. It is also saving hard drive space as the images do not have to be exported to a TIFF or PSD file to go to Photoshop and back. Adding the Lightroom Retouching Toolkit doesn’t break the bank and will save you more than that in time savings.
Vanessa: Do you think professional photographers will start to use Photoshop less as Lightroom becomes more powerful and easy-to-use presets and brushes like these become more readily available?
Dave: Absolutely. The changes and upgrades Adobe has been making in Lightroom specifically are really moving towards a total solution for photographers. Especially for portrait and wedding photographers that typically do not need to advanced features of Photoshop. Combining quality presets and brushes along with the continuous upgrade you get with Lightroom on the Creative Cloud, and you will soon have a one-stop solution for post-production.
Vanessa: What advice can you give new and seasoned photographers in regards to how much time they should spend learning Photoshop vs. learning Lightroom?
Dave: While it never hurts to be educated in multiple tools to run your business, I think that any photographer should invest the time in learning Lightroom. Its key features of file management are critical to understand and will avoid file loss. Proper file management and backups are some of the key features I teach in my Lightroom training.
Dave is a Los Angeles based photographer and instructor who you can learn from at WPPI in March 2015 in Las Vegas. Until then, for more of his Adobe Lightroom Certified expertise, check out his Lightroom training website.