Workflow: How Photographers Work Smarter, Not Harder

Workflow: How Photographers Work Smarter, Not Harder

Everyone tells you to ‘work smarter, not harder’. Many gurus make a living doing just that – helping people optimize the workflow of their day to get more done with the finite amount of time that we all have on this planet.  How do photographers approach the problem of having to deliver the goods to the client? We find a client, or one finds us, we plan the shoot, we execute the shoot, we process the content generated, and we deliver the results. That’s basically it. As most of us know, though, the fourth step, processing content, is what tends to take longer than the other steps. Weddings?  Shoot for 12 hours, then process content for three days. Fashion? Shoot for four hours, then process for two days. Short film? Shoot four days, then edit for a month. Sure, I am simplifying it a bit, but the point is that the edit process is more labor and time intensive for the photographer.

How do we work more efficiently?

There are many tools available for photographers, but the one I choose is Adobe Lightroom, after which comes Adobe Photoshop. My personal still photo workflow has evolved to start and end with Lightroom: import content, identify my selects (images I like, which tends to be a 10:1 ratio of images shot to those selected), apply mass adjustments (white balance, sharpen, contrast, exposure), then go through each of the adjusted selects and do more specific adjustments – crop, rotate, portrait adjustments (eyes, skin, hair, etc…). Photoshop is a very limited tool for me – I only use PS to make reshaping adjustments, stitch panoramas, and do the very few things that I cannot do in Lightroom. Then, its back into LR to finalize the set of images and export them in the format required for the client – 1200px max side for web-based clients, and max resolution for fashion and other clients. In my experience, I get about 90% of my work done in Lightroom as opposed to Photoshop, and that is my secret weapon to getting through an image set of 500+ images on a deadline.

Tools, tools, tools…

I use many plugins in Lightroom, and recently Sleeklens came to me and asked if I could take a look at their Lightroom tools to help photographers work faster and better.  Since I had many tools that I built myself within LR, such as custom brushes, I wasn’t actively looking for a new tool to use in LR, but I thought it would be interesting to see what new options are out there. Sleeklens told me about their Lightroom and Photoshop Workflows, and I settled into trying out the Lightroom Portrait Workflow. This workflow consists of LR Brushes and Presets that can be used to QUICKLY get through most shoots where people are the subjects. Portraits, weddings, boudoir, fashion – the basic workflow that most companies sell help us get through working with people’s visual ‘defects’ and improve the look (lighting, color), of the image.

What exactly is in the package?

When I downloaded the zipped file and opened it up, I got to work installing it. Sleeklens has excellent tutorials on that matter and I walked through them one by one to make sure they were clear and could explain, even to the most beginning LR user, how to make them work.  ( LR Presets Installation tutorial.  LR Brushes Installation tutorial.)

This a small sample of the plug-ins added by the Sleeklens portrait workflow package:

sleeklens portrait workflow review

Brushes: the ‘K’ brush is a VERY useful tool, especially when combined with the Auto Mask feature found in Lightroom. The Sleeklens plugin installed are grouped into areas that are typically in need of attention when retouching photos – eyes, skin, hair, teeth, highlights, etc.  I tend to work in a similar order with most photos: crop, adjust white balance, adjust lighting, curves, adjust model’s ‘geometry’ (if needed), then go down the face/body list: hair, eyes, skin, lips, teeth.

This is a small sample of the K-brushes added by the Sleeklens portrait workflow package:

sleeklens portrait workflow review

Final Judgement?

I like this package – the cost is truly negligible when you consider how much time you will save by buying it – I found it very useful in my daily work and very much appreciate the company reaching out to let me know of this product and sending me a copy of it to try out and review.  I am giving this product a definite thumbs up. Is it the only product of its type out there? No. Is it as good a product as the others? Very much so – and a good price value as well!

Update 10-19-2016:

I found out that SleekLens has a new service it is offering that allows photographers to outsource their edits to SleekLens wholesale. Contact them to find out more at this url:



I was not compensated by Sleeklens for this review in any way beyond having been given a copy of the product to try and review here.  Our reputation and integrity is one of the most important things we have and I believe in transparency when it comes to product endorsements or reviews.