When telling a story through a series of photographs, it’s important that the images seam together stylistically. In this video, I’ll be walking through an easy 4 step guide to cohesive photo editing for portraits.

Video: 4 Step Lightroom Guide to Cohesive Photo Editing for Portraits

Cohesively editing a series of images is particularly important when they’re all a part of the same story. This means that stylistically, the images will share similar colors, tones, and mood. Editing cohesively is crucial when creating books and galleries for clients and shows.

Before we jump into this guide for cohesive photo editing for portraits, be sure to capture your photos in Manual Mode. This is to ensure that your exposure settings stay the same, making this editing process a whole lot easier.

You can download the exercise files here and follow along the tutorial! To see how this series was shot, be sure to check out How to Capture a First Look Moment On Your Own.

Step #1: Start With a Look

photo editing for portraits preset

Begin by editing the first image to your liking. Dial in your settings to get the desired tones and mood that you’ll be applying to the rest of the images. For these images, I applied VF Presets > Pastel > Soft Light. Then, I tweaked the settings until I reached a nice, bright, look for the image.

Step #2: Synchronize Your Settings

Select the rest of your images and hit Ctrl / Cmd + Shift + S. I like to check all the boxes except for local adjustments, spot removal, and crop, since those are specific to each image.

Step #3: Individually Adjust Each Image

Applying the settings from our first image to the rest of them will get us most of the way. However, as we change angles or zoom in/out, the exposure might vary. Scroll through each image and tweak the settings until they match the look from our very first edit. During this step, you can also apply radial burns and crop specifically to each image.

Step #4: Review/Survey Your Gallery

photo editing for portraits gallery

Lastly, select all your edited images and press N to bring up survey mode. Here, you can see all of your images together on screen and verify that each image is edited correctly and looks alike. From there, you can then go on to create galleries and collages for your clients or portfolio.


I hope you enjoyed this article/video. Whether it be advertising, weddings, portraits, or fine art, knowing how to edit cohesively is a crucial skill. Give this guide to cohesive photo editing for portraits a shot and watch your series come together to tell a complete story. For a full course on Lightroom editing, be sure to check out the Mastering Lightroom Guide in SLR Lounge Premium. In addition, visit Visual Flow for intuitive lighting based presets and retouching tools like we used in today’s tutorial.

Don’t miss our next episode of Mastering Your Craft on Adorama’s YouTube channel next week! If you want to catch up on all the episodes, make sure you check out our playlist!