Culling using Photo Mechanic and Lightroom


I know everyone culls and organizes their images differently. I also know, I used to as well. When I figured out this method it was a total game changer. I’ve never used Bridge and do 99% of my editing in Lightroom. So that’s what I’m talking about today. 🙂

So first thing, I do NOT cull in Lightroom. I use a program called Photo Mechanic. Photo Mechanic is a culling program. And it’s really freaking fast. Lightroom renders each image. So when you’re scrolling through you’re seeing the original. This causes the program to lag and take a few seconds between each image for the image to load. When you’re culling through thousands of images every second counts! Photo Mechanic is SO fast. I’m saying, I can cull a wedding in an hour with it. Now THAT is good time management. I bring the images up in the large view. Scroll through with my arrow keys, and click the ‘T’ key when I want to tag the image.

Photo Mechanic1

My next step, once I’ve tagged all the images I want, I go back to the thumbnail view in PM. Once I’m there, I can choose only the tagged images by clicking the drop down at the top and selecting ‘tagged’.


Then you want to select all of the images that you have tagged. You can click and drag your mouse over them, or I click on one and use the keystroke: Command + A. On a PC that would be Ctrl + A. Then while holding the mouse I drag them over into Lightroom.


Once in Lightroom, the folder is brought up, with the images selected. ISN’T THAT AWESOME. YAY TECHNOLOGY!

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Then you can Import. SO MUCH FASTER WITH PHOTO MECHANIC! Once they’re imported. I go through and organize the images. I start by selecting all of the Prep/Getting Ready photos. Then I change the attribute and color them in red. You can also do this by hitting the number 6 on your keyboard. I go through and do each section this way, only each section gets a different color. Portraits get yellow, Ceremony Green, and Reception gets blue. I leave details out at this point, and they do not receive a color. At the top of the screen, you can choose to only see the images by attribute. So when I start editing, I click on the little red (or yellow, green, etc…depending on what section I’m editing) square. Then Lightroom will show me only the Getting Ready photos. At this point, I can apply a preset or start editing. Usually all of my prep photos are done in the same setting  and will need the same type of editing. The same goes for portraits, ceremony, reception, etc.

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This is how I organize my photos for editing! I can cull and organize wedding images in roughly an hour and a half.  Work smarter not harder!

Retouching Skin for Weddings

Retouching Cover

Retouching.  What an ugly word, right?  It seems that every time a question about retouching skin for weddings comes up on Facebook there are a million different opinions of what we should do and why.  So to fuel the debate even more I’ve decided to write this months post on retouching skin for weddings.

Let me start by saying I am a firm believer when it comes to retouching skin!  I believe, that as a wedding photographer, clients come to me for a number of reasons.  The big reasons are because they love my photos and believe that I am the right person to capture such a momentous occasion.  But another, more subtle, reason I believe clients come to me is because all of the people they see featured on my website, blog, social media, marketing materials and albums all look really good.  And while I wish I could sit here and say it’s because all of my clients have flawless skin and we are always shooting in perfect light, that’s just not the truth.  The truth is it’s because I take a little bit of extra time retouching skin.

While culling in Photo Mechanic I divide my keeper photos into two separate categories.  The largest set receives a general edit and are the images I spend the least amount of time on.  The second set are my feature images that will receive the full Jamie Ivins Photography treatment. These feature images may be used in a number of different ways but mostly are images that will either go on to represent my brand or will end up in a client album, slideshow, or as proof prints.

Once I have finished culling in Photo Mechanic I upload my photos into Lightroom and apply a custom preset while uploading to give my photos the pop that I like.  I do a general quick edit on the lot of them to color correct, make sure horizon lines are straight, and get the overall look I want for the set.

After the general edit is finished I then move on to my feature images.  These are the images I spend a little extra time on to make sure that everything is exactly the way I want it.  Sometimes that just means extra dodging and burning or simple cloning in Lightroom…but…whenever skin is present in one of these images, it is then taken into Photoshop for retouching.

Once open in Photoshop I start with blemish removal via the healing brush.  I know some users like the spot healing brush tool but I’m old school and still prefer to sample an area of skin before working on an affected area.  🙂  After I am finished removing blemishes I move on to softening skin using Mama Shan’s retouching actions.

The Mama Shan’s actions I use most often are the “Original Powder” and “Mama’s Lite Powder” because I feel that these give me the most natural results on my images without looking fake or overly processed.  When using these powder brushes I like to use a Wacom tablet making sure the pressure setting is turned on and my opacity is set between 40-50% for the fellas and 60-70% for the ladies with a flow of 30%.  It’s important to note that a tablet is not necessary to use these actions but I prefer the control I have with a tablet over my mouse.  Once the skin is finished I then move on to other areas like eyes and teeth to also give them a little pop.

After the retouching is complete I save the file in Photoshop and bring it back into Lightroom to make any final adjustments I may have missed prior before exporting these files for use in a slideshow, album, blog post, etc.

So now that you know the “how” in my process I want to talk a little bit about the “why”, which is two-fold.

First, our clients invest a lot of money in our services and while they want pretty pictures that show their wedding day, they also want to look and feel their best and I believe that as photographers it is our job to give that to them.  To be 100% honest with you, I feel that if we aren’t taking the time to remove blemishes and do some light skin softening we are being lazy and not providing a full service to our clients.  Now, you might be all, “but Jamie…I want my clients to look natural.”  Well, guess what?  Me too.  And there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do a light edit on skin, removing blemishes, hot spots, or sweaty foreheads and still retain the natural look.  Most people are very self-conscious and I, for one, don’t ever want to be responsible for one of my clients looking self-consciously at themselves.  It is my goal to make them feel their best when they’re viewing their images so they are proud to show them off to people and are happy looking back at their wedding day years down the road.

Secondly, I’m doing this because I’m always trying to attract a higher end clientele.  And in my experience, people with higher budgets also have higher expectations.  And along with higher expectations they are going to want to feel like they are hiring someone who can give them a boutique experience they would be hard pressed to find elsewhere.  When looking at their photos they are going to want to feel that I put all of myself into the work and they are getting a one of a kind product and if you, as the photographer, aren’t paying attention to the details, you’re falling short.  So to appeal to the next tier of clients I want a body of work that is able to stand up to their expectation.

Some of you may agree.  Some may disagree.  Such is life.  I’m just here to tell you what is working for me and to speculate as to why.  Ultimately it is up to each of you to decide what is best for your images.  But I urge you to stop being lazy and to start creating an experience your clients deserve.  And if you don’t believe you can retouch while still ending up with the natural look, check out the examples below.  Face!


See you all next month Awesomesaucers!

Lightroom Retouching is the Key to your Busy Season Editing Sanity!

Busy Photographers – meet your new favorite tool for this year’s busy season in photography! Want to know why? Because this set of tools is the key to keeping your sanity when you’re editing. I’m talking about the Lightroom Retouching Toolkit, which is your time-saving, workflow-rocking, 48 brushes of awesomesauce, Photoshop-skipping, set of tools.

Lightroom Retouching Toolkit

We’ve talked about workflow before on Photography Awesomesauce and the bottom line is that you want to know how to edit faster without sacrificing quality. Here’s the thing. A lot of photographers start their editing journey in Lightroom. It’s a great program for fixing any exposure errors, color correction and other big things because you can batch edit, which means you can fix big groups of photos all at the same time. So it’s a huge time saving tool. However, fine tuning details in Lightroom has never been easy so a lot of photographers then take their workflow into Photoshop to do things like enhancing eyes, smoothing skin, and whitening teeth. Photoshop takes a lot more time so switching back and forth between the two programs is definitely nobody’s idea of time-saving awesomeness.

That’s where the Lightroom Retouching Toolkit comes in. Once you finish those big batch edits and major fixes like exposure and color correction, you don’t even have to take your photos into Photoshop. You can keep everything all in one place and use any one of the awesome 48 brushes with all different types of tools to do all your fine tuning right in Lightroom without even skipping a beat.

Lightroom Retouching Toolkit
I love this example of what the toolkit can do for your photos. The shadows around her face and hair have been brightened and her skin tone has been notably warmed with some of the skin brushes. There are other smaller local adjustments, but these two make such a huge difference in the overall feel of the final photo. I’m really loving those skin tools!!!


One of the best parts about using the Lightroom Retouching Toolkit is that it’s super affordable. Normally you pay $89 for the whole kit with all of the 48 brushes below included. However, thanks to the awesomesauce that Brett, the creator, is giving to you guys, you can grab it for $20 off by using the code: AWESOME20 at checkout!


To top things off, Brett has really made the whole Lightroom Retouching Toolkit process an easy one. When you purchase on his website, you immediately get the product via digital download. Once you’ve downloaded the file, you just open it up and there are installation instructions included right inside. It makes the installation of the brushes really effortless. From purchase to installation, you could spend about 2 minutes and be ready to rock these new tools in your workflow. Plus just because he’s awesome, the toolkit comes with a 30 day money back guarantee.

Here are a couple more samples of the difference in photos before and after using the toolkit.

Lightroom Retouching Toolkit
Checkout those great changes in her skin, eyes and makeup!
Lightroom Retouching Toolkit
I love this before and after. The one big thing I noticed is the redness in her cheeks is gone. This may be a perfect tool for newborn photographers who want to smooth skin and get rid of newborn redness we often see in our raw images!


Now that you’ve seen the amazing goodness that the toolkit can help you accomplish right inside of Lightroom, I wanted to share with you a few things that some awesome photographers have to say about it.

“This product is a game changer… it won’t be long before it’s a staple of everyone’s workflow.” – Vanessa Joy

“We’ve always been a little hesitant when it comes to using Lightroom just because we have our Bridge/Photoshop workflow down so well, but when Brett created the Lightroom Retouching Toolkit, it made us rethink everything.This toolkit is extremely easy to use and really saves us time by not having to go back and forth from Lightroom to Photoshop. The LRT has revamped our workflow to be even more efficient!” – Blair Phillips
Anytime I can save time, simplify stuff, and make my photos even more BOMB I’m PUMPED!  
The Lightroom Retouching Toolkit does all of those things. It’s my workflow… on crack! Really affordable crack!” – Nikki McArthur
I can’t wait to see how this tool is going to change your workflow as we dive into the start of busy season here! Make sure you drop by the website and use the coupon code AWESOME20 at checkout to get $20 off! Then enjoy playing with your new stuff! Make sure you drop by Facebook too and follow along!
This business paid a fee to be listed on Photography Awesomesauce because they feel their products and services are a great fit with our goals for working smarter not harder…and I totally agree! I’d never approve a sponsor for Photography Awesomesauce unless I truly loved their product.