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Review, Rough Cut, Pick: Editing a Portrait Shoot in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

This post is part of a series called Photo Editing and Visual Sequencing.
How to Review, Edit, and Sequence Photos in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
Diptychs and Triptychs: Playing with Photo Stories and Unexpected Combinations

Before Christmas, Jackson Couse—the Tuts+ Photo & Video editor— and I came up with an idea for an experiment: I would go and have a photo session with a model without looking at the images during the shoot and then together we’d go through the pictures and pull out the best ones.

Jackson and I have vastly different photography backgrounds. Jackson has formally studied photography, worked with film, and has a very “documentary” perspective. I’m self-taught, have only ever shot digital and documentaries are something involving David Attenborough. We wanted to see where our opinions on the photos I took would be the same and where they would differ.

The Editing Process

In the video we go through all 137 images that I took with the model, Dani, on the streets of Dublin and work our way down to a single final shot. To do this we used a three step process: 

  1. Initial image-by-image review
  2. Work the rough cut
  3. Make the final cut

The goal of this edit is to select one frame from my whole take to include in my portfolio.

First, we reviewed each image one-by-one in Adobe Lightroom. Any image that had some potential was given a single star.

After the first cull we were down to a rough cut of around 20 or 30 images. Next, we went through those and carefully pulled out the best images from each run of pictures by giving them a second star — if two or three were similar, we selected only one.

Now we were down to less than 10 images: still a rough cut, but a finer one. At this point we were able to pull out the best picture from the shoot.

The Results

Since recording the video, I’ve gone off and processed the image based off some of the things myself and Jackson discussed. Here is the finished photograph:

final shot
The final, corrected and adjusted image of Dani. 


Jackson and I bounce ideas and concepts back and forth as we work our way through the pictures. Some of the many things we touch on in the video include:

  • Workflows for selecting images
  • What makes a great single image
  • Working with models
  • Building a portfolio
  • Finding inspiration during shoots
  • Selecting locations

This is a new form of content for us here at Tuts+ so we’d love your feedback. Was there anything we touched on you’d like us to go into more detail on? Would you like to see more video like this? Let us know.

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