After spending a few hours editing a portrait session (or longer if it’s a wedding!) it can be tempting to just click export and get those photos off your plate!
Instead, you should take a few moments after you’re finished processing in order to review the work you’ve done. You’ll be able to pick out photos that might need a bit more adjustment and increase the overall quality of your work!
Here are a couple tips that will help you review your images:
Lightroom was designed to take advantage of two monitors.
Below is a screenshot of what it looks like when I’m working through a portrait session. As you can see I have the standard Lightroom window open (usually in the Develop module) and then I have a secondary screen open to grid view (you can select grid, loupe, compare, and survey for the second screen).
This is really useful for reviewing as you go. With a second screen open to grid view it’s easy to see if one image is sticking out because it needs more or less processing. It’s also really nice to have a larger thumbnail image than the small thumbnail strip at the bottom of the Develop module. This helps plan out processing a bit (what images work well together for possible albums spreads, triptychs, B&W pairings, etc).
You can also control the size of the thumbnails for the second screen. I have mine set quite large so I can easily distinguish details and compare images at a glance.
Don’t have a second monitor?
No problem! It’s pretty quick to switch between the Develop module (keyboard shortcut: D) and the grid view mode (keyboard shortcut: G).
Since you don’t have grid open all the time (compared to dual monitors) it would definitely be a good idea if you reviewed all your images in grid view once you’re finished processing. Even with two monitors I still always look through all the images once I’m finished processing.
Note: My main screen is on the right due to the orientation of my desk, but you can easily select which screen is your primary by just dragging the window to the appropriate screen.
Why You Should Review
Each portrait session is unique. And when you’re editing, the shots from the middle to the end of the session always seem easier to process.
This happens because you’ve gotten used to how to process shots from that session. You know how much contrast to add, how bright to make images, and how best to handle the unique quirks that arise.
When reviewing the images from the beginning of the session you’ll find that you usually have to make some minor adjustments. It’s takes a while to get warmed up!
There is another, more theoretical, reason for reviewing images as thumbnails (either during or after processing).
When you’re processing a full sized image in the Develop module it’s sometimes difficult to see subtle adjustments (for example, slight changes in contrast, brightness, temperature etc). Your brain gets caught up in the details of the larger image that are so obvious at a large size.
Viewing the grid thumbnail makes it easier to ignore the details of the image and see the global characteristics (i.e. contrast, brightness, colour temperature). It also helps that you’re viewing the photo in relation to other images, which allows the odd ones to stand out.
Many of us are working on very large monitors (Lauren uses a 30” and I use a 24”!). There is no way our eyes can easily take in the entire image at once. They have to scan to see the whole thing. That takes away from making the general adjustments as accurately and consistently as possible.
In the bottom left hand corner of the screenshot above you’ll notice a couple icons that look like monitors labeled 1 and 2. If you have two monitors just click the “2” icon and your second monitor should fill up with another Lightroom screen. You can adjust how the screen fills the window (right click that 2 for more options).
The above screenshot shows what the second screen looks like in fullscreen mode. You can adjust the size of the thumbnails in the bottom right hand corner.
You can also choose the view you’d like at the top left corner of the screen. I usually have mine set to grid.
Hopefully this helps in ensuring you are processing consistently through your sessions, which, as we know, is not as easy as it may seem!