Culling: Mind the Details

When culling after a headshot session, chances are your client has already seen the images, especially if you tethered your camera to a computer or television. Don’t be afraid to scroll through the images with your client and tell them which headshots you think are the strongest. Take into consideration the topics we covered throughout this workshop regarding angles, the jawline and nose, symmetry, and more while choosing the best images from the session. You should be able to identify the best images fairly easily.

In a set of 30-50 headshots, the client will likely not need to choose more than 3-5 images. Compare a few shots from the beginning and end of the session in Lightroom and comment on how amazing your client looks. During this time, they should also recognize how the images improved under your direction.

Flag your client’s favorites and apply our new Lightroom Headshot presets. We usually choose to edit the images in color with the “Soft Color” preset, as well as in black in white using the “Soft B&W” preset. Because the presets are designed to work with a square lighting setup, you should be able to completely edit a headshot in fewer than five clicks.

Choose the “Soft Color” or “Standard Color” preset (depending on your preference), use a profile correction (“00a” under the “00-00 TOOLS” preset folder) if necessary, make the appropriate crop, adjust exposure, and add a radial burn to draw focus with the lighting. Clone the edited image and apply the “Soft B&W” preset.

The final step, retouching, is minimized because of how the presets are set up. Skin tones reside in the highlights, and the specular highlights on the skin can be controlled by adjusting the “whites” in Lightroom. By boosting the highlights and lowering the whites, as well as reducing clarity, the skin tones are balanced and softened, resulting in fewer necessary retouches.