General Post-Production Techniques For Group Portraiture

When editing group portraits using raw processing editing techniques (in Lightroom or similar applications), we need to consider a number of factors to make our images look great (overall mid-tone contrast, even lighting, etc.). The goal, of course, is to get the image as close to finished as possible in camera, meaning that we should’ve considered lighting and other technical aspects while capturing the image instead of relying on post-production to make the image look presentable; sometimes, however, despite our best efforts, there will be some images that just need more work in post before the image is “finished.” We’ll look at how to work with images that are almost ready to go out of the camera and others that need a little more love.

That said, most images should require only the bare minimum to produce an amazing finished product. When this is the case, simply open the file in Lightroom and apply a preset that matches your vision. You can use 3rd-party presets like our SLR Lounge Presets CC v1.1 or create your own, which we’ve covered how to do here.

After you’ve applied a preset (such as our Soft Color preset), you can go in and make micro adjustments. In the image above, we’ve dialed up our exposure nearly one full stop to brighten up the image, and then we added a bit of clarity to recover any detail that may have been lost in some of the subjects, which can happen with larger groups due to stacking the subjects on different focal planes. After that, adding a touch of contrast and a radial burn dragged out from the center are enough to bring this image to deliverable status.

For images that need more help, you can make adjustments to base tones (“shadow lifts” in the presets) to even out the lighting in the image. If there’s vignetting in the image, profile correction and graduated filters from the appropriate direction can also help balance out the lighting.

If you don’t have presets (which are available to ALL current SLR Lounge Premium members), you can make these adjustments yourself. You can enable profile correction in the “Lens Corrections” module, and make adjustments to exposure, shadows/blacks, temperature, and clarity, and then use graduated filters to get the lighting where you want it.