Tips about editing consistency on large ligtroom catalogs

As experienced editing and shooting professionals, we all know that making a few shots consistent & good-looking pretty easy - almost any photographer can do that! But to make a big series of photos (800+) cleanly and consistently - that's a real challenge even for an experienced full-time editor/colorist. As a private photo editor, who provides dedicated editing services for different wedding and portrait photographers I very often face the question about how to make Large Lightroom catalogs consistently. So I decided to collect all possible information in one post.


Editing consistency of large weddings and all other projects overwhelmingly depends on the shooting firstly!


Each of you, being a photographer, has been or is still engaged in editing for yourself. And almost all of you have paid attention to the obvious fact: the higher quality pictures you work within Lightroom, the easier and faster it is to work with. On the "right" picture with good color and the right light fit almost any preset! In case of a bad shot, any preset doesn't give you the results you need. 
The conclusion is very simple: to get a proper editing result you have to do your best at all stages of your work - and especially when shooting and preparing for the project, and not to wait for a miracle from your personal photo editor.

1. Pay a lot of attention to the preparation for the shoot. Inspect and carefully choose locations that perfectly reflect your style of work. Make sure there are no objects in the location that will cast unneeded reflexes. For example, when shooting outdoors, don't put a couple in tall green grass (editing will become much more complex) - prefer light sand or white paving stones surrounded by light walls that cast clean neutral tones on faces (almost any preset will go well). Shooting indoors - turn off all artificial lightning to avoid mixing color temperatures. Try to use natural window light.
2. Try shooting at mid-exposure by either zone exposing or exposing for highlights (so they don't blow out) to achieve a neutral exposure. This will save your time in editing, retain your highlights and color and give you much more consistent results!

3. Constantly practice working with natural/impulse lights. While shooting in a location with natural light (no matter inside or outside) - choose the shooting spot according to the best light position, and then try to compose it in the frame! When working with impulse light - learn how to work with spots of indirect light reflected from the ceiling/walls. This is a base that will help you a lot later both when working on location with on-camera flash and when working in the studio with studio lights!
4. The proper artistic сropping and straightening are essential to the consistency of a large series, so train your sense of composition and harmonious visual balance. A good painting in the galleries is the best helper!



Now let's talk about tips that will help us with clean and beautiful photo editing.


5. If you work in a lightroom make a separate anchor for every background/lightning scenario and keep it in the left part of the monitor (shift+r)
6. Do not use 4-5-7 presets! Try to choose 1-2 most basic (preferably one for color and one for b/w) stick to them and adjust them as needed (not change them)!
7. Use the "right" lightroom presets. We all know there are too many presets on the market. Most of them only complicate the work and make the picture "too punchy", "too vibrant", etc. So use the presets that make your editing easier rather than harder. 
8. Use white canvas background. In Lightroom go to: "Preferences-Interface-BackgroundFill-Fillcolor-White". It gives you a reference for what true white is and will help your eyes adjust to that balance.
9. Give your eyes a rest more often! Leave your monitor & rest when you feel something is wrong with the color! (or at least every 1,5-2 hours for small 10 minute breaks).
9a. Overall сonsistency checks are important! If you have time - leave the catalog for example overnight - and in the morning run through it all from beginning to end with fresh eyes! This will help to make sure that everything is okay or that some changes are needed! (for example, we work together with my wife, and one of us always has rested eyes - so we are able to make changes on the fly).
9b. Try to work with color in a room with dim and consistent light! It is difficult to edit color when you work near a big window and the color temperature constantly changes during the day (technically speaking you want the brightness to be around 120 cd/m2)
9c. The color of the walls next to where you work on the computer is very important. Look around you - gray wallpaper or concrete? That's it! The orange poster next to the monitor? Take it off immediately & move it away!
10. Try to set your keyboard/devices so that you distract your eyes from the screen less - your eyes get confused and the color starts to swim sideways (try to use special keyboards such as "lopedeck+"/midi-controllers such as "Behringer X-TOUCH mini"/special retouching panels as "Shuttle Pro V2")
11.Make a selection of photos with the color you like - print it out and hang it nearby for inspiration and constant eye sharpening.
11a. Time to time print your own photos to understand what clients will get when they want to print some photos in 10-15 years (and just to check yourself once again).
11b. Don't compare your editing results to the iPhone/android screen. Every single phone has a different color shift & brightness. if you start thinking about what your customers see on their mobile devices, you'll just go crazy. Use as a reference the printing on paper or in photo albums.
12.Calibrate your monitor once in a half-year (or at least once a year) with a good calibrator (I prefer SpyderX pro)
13.When working with a MacBook/iMac is set up 100% brightness always: System Preferences - Displays - uncheck «Automatically adjust brightness».
14. Turn off «true tone» on your new MacBook/iMac (System Preferences - Displays - uncheck "TrueTone")
15. Use good expensive monitors with an IPS matrix + 95% or more color coverage. (I prefer just to use iMac/MacBook)
16. practice, practice, and again practice with large catalogs 

17. Hire an experienced private photo editor!)

Edited with: TAP Fuji pro 400 Frontier Normal EXP 
Shot on: Canon 5D Mk3iii + Canon 50mm f1.2