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Portrait Tips: Automation is your best friend, part one

Last week I told you about my headshot factory. I’ve used this sort of setup to photograph as many as 300 people in one day. Unfortunately, that’s the easy part for me. Making a portrait with a person is great fun. What’s less fun is retouching 300 portraits over the next week or so. Each picture needs a little something, and most of them need the same things: Contrast, skin retouching, and eye brightening.

The best way to improve contrast, retouch skin and brighten eyes in portraits is to use Perfectly Clear Complete (PCC). It recognizes each face in the picture and automatically touches up the skin and eyes and it does it without you brushing anything or doing any selections. It’s really the fastest tool out there for portraits. Best of all, you can save the settings that look best for this headshot factory and apply them to all the pictures as a batch. Right now I’ll show you how to save a custom preset, and then use the steps in this other article to finish all your pictures in a batch from Lightroom.

Retouch one picture

The first thing you need to do is get one of your portraits perfected. Start in Lightroom by setting the camera profile you like and adjust the white balance. You should apply those two settings to all of your portraits so that they have a cohesive look — you don’t want the white balance to be different between shots because it’ll look poorly on your client’s website to have the background of each a different color.

Now send the picture to PCC (right click and select “Edit In”). Here’s an article on how to use PCC to finish your portraits. One thing I’d add to the tips in that article is that when you’re doing the headshot factory, you’ll probably have slightly different settings for men and women — perhaps smoother skin for women and maybe more Face Contouring — so edit one woman and one man.

Save a Preset

With the woman’s photo open in PCC, find the settings wheel on the left in the Preset palette. Click and choose to “Add or edit a preset.”

Now, give the preset a name and subfolder to save it in and you can even choose an icon for it. This is for the woman settings, but I’ll save a second preset with the man settings. This preset will now appear in the Preset palette on the left side of the screen.

Start production

With a preset saved, every time you go to PCC to edit, you can simply click on the preset and your portrait will be ready to go. The best thing about making a preset is that you can use it to finish all your portraits in a batch. Refer to this article for the steps to batch process using Lightroom. With presets and batch editing, your headshot factory will be able to produce great results really quickly.

Portrait Tips come out each week, and you can see them all right here.

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