Speed Edit: Ashley

I present to you, my first speed edit.

A 38 minute portrait edit condensed to just over three minutes. Watch my battery life go from 72% to 19% and enjoy.

Let’s Taco ‘Bout The Process

The first two things I do after importing a session into Lightroom is:

  • Remove Chromatic Aberration
  • and if the photo calls for it, Lens Correction. Sometimes I like to leave Lens Correction off because I’m a sucker for a good vignette.

Then, I sync those babies up.

After that begins the culling process. I select the best photos from the session and make sure the eyes are in focus, the pose is on point, and overall the strongest of the bunch. I’ll go through the culling process a few times during the editing process, sometimes I decide a photo really isn’t as strong as the one next to it, or I made a mistake and missed a good one. In the video above, the photos have already been culled because this session is from April — when it was warm, the grass was green, and life was good.

After Chromatic Aberration has been removed, the photos have been culled, and I’m feelin’ pretty good, then I start looking at my Presets panel.


I used to have a real strong opinion about Presets. I thought anyone who was using them was somehow cheating the process and they weren’t as much of an “artist” as a photographer who hand-edited their photos. I was a snob.

Now, I’m all about doing whatever makes the job easier and more efficient. I don’t think Presets should be used as a one-size-fits-all solution for every session, and sometimes you really have to tweak it to make it work, but overall, Presets are what’s up.

I’ve recently been loving Mastin Labs for basically all of my sessions. There are several different film emulation packs of Presets, and you can pick which one fits your style best. For me, I’m really digging the saturation, warmth, and color treatment of Kodak Gold and Ektar

I most recently used them on our travel photos in Gatlinburg, on the downtown portrait session with Anastasia, my Middle Waves festival photos, and Allie and Josh’s Fort Wayne wedding.

The thing about Presets is, in my humble opinion, you have to start with a good photo with good light first. Presets aren’t a magic fix, so it all starts with the photographer and their knowledge of light and how to manipulate it. That may read as a humble brag, but it’s not. I’ve had to learn to slow down, evaluate my surroundings, and then decide what direction or pose is going to have the best result right in camera.

Back to the Process

Anyways, let’s get back to the editing.

After applying my chosen Preset, then I start getting into the more detailed editing. A base skin retouch, attention to the eyes, some dodging and burning — you get the idea.

Once I think I’ve got it down pretty much where I like it in Lightroom, then I open up Photoshop for even more detailed editing.

Here’s where I use Frequency Separation to even out skin tone and remove any imperfections. In Photoshop is also where I open up the Liquify tool and mess with the hair (cuz I like big ‘ol hair) and make minor adjustments to any features I think can use some attention.

Liquify or Not to Liquify

I know there’s a huge debate about retouching and I get it, there is so much Photoshop on every photo we see in the media and advertising that it’s hard to tell what’s real and the expectations are way too high. I completely understand and I’m with you, trust me.

That’s why I use the Liquify tool in moderation.

I’m not going to drastically change the shape of anyone. I want people to look like themselves. Yes, my colors are a little wild and I like a lot of contrast, so those colors obviously aren’t true to life. But Ashley is Ashley, and anyone who sees this photo immediately recognizes her as herself. I gave her hair some volume, shaped up the arch of her eyebrow, fixed where she had over lined her lipstick, and brought the side of her cheek in ever so slightly. She’s still Ashley.

After making my adjustments in Photoshop and some trial and error, I wanted to try something new and throw in a Motion Blur, just for fun. I didn’t know if it was going to look good and I didn’t know if I would even like it, but I thought hey, why the heck not? I ended up keeping the Motion Blur because I liked the added level of dimension and motion and it also brought more focus to Ashley’s face and less to the flyaways.

Photography is all about experimenting and finding what works, and also sometimes what doesn’t work.

And that’s about it! This photo is more editorial and it was taken of my sister in my backyard on a whim, which gives me the freedom to get a little creative. Would I throw a Motion Blur on a family photo? Probably not. Would I do such a drastic and colorful preset on a bridal portrait? Maybe, maybe not. It’s just what feels good in the moment.

Have questions? Leave a comment. Want to know more about a particular section of the video? Let me know. Don’t ever want to watch a three and a half minute speed edit video again? Well, that’s awkward because I’m going to do more of them.

Check out the side by side Before & After as well as the Final Image below. Also huge shoutout to Ashley for letting me take so many photos of her all the time.

Speed Edit by Danielle Doepke Photography. Portraiture speed edit in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. Ashley, April 2018.

Before & After

Speed Edit by Danielle Doepke Photography. Portraiture speed edit in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. Ashley, April 2018.

Final Image

Danielle Doepke Photography

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