Boudoir Photography Workflow – Preparing Photographs for In Person Sales

Boudoir Photography Workflow - Preparing Your Proofs for In Person Sales

Today, I want to share my boudoir photography workflow that I use. This is the workflow that I have developed now that I overcame my fear and I do In Person Sales sessions after every client’s session.

Let me get this out of the way: this works FOR ME. There are a million different ways to do things, as we have discussed before. Create the business you want to create. This is my way of doing them. No right or wrong, and I’m sharing my perspective to help you out. That said, I would LOVE to hear how you do things, as I’m sure my readers would as well. Feel free to leave a comment!

Backing Up Your Photographs

After each session, I back up my images to both a Western Digital My Book Drive and a Western Digital Passport Drive. I work off of the Passport Drive because it is easy to move around, I can hand it to my editing assistant as needed.

I make two copies of everything just in case a drive fails, there was a transfer error when copying the files, or I lose a drive. None of these things have happened to me in 5 years, but I really don’t want to tempt fate. I also check the files (bringing them in to Lightroom) before I reformat and shoot on the memory card again. Just in case!

Memory is cheap these days. I use one drive until I fill it up. Then I move on to a new drive. If you want to learn more about Lightroom workflows, I highly recommend anything by Jared Platt. He has several videos and Creative Live courses you can check out!

Culling Your Photographs

I am a heavy shooter. I had a camera body for 2-3 years that was temperamental about focusing so I developed this habit; I also work at f/1.8 most of the time, and last but not least, people blink. I’d rather have too many than too little. The same goes for my culling of the photographs. I often leave 2-3 options of the same pose in my editing for clients to chose from. Half smile, full smile, closed lips. Head tilted or not tilted. I want them to have the option. The differences may be slight, but they are different.

I often leave over 100 images in my final collection of proofs; sometimes it is closer to 200.

The fact that I do In Person Sales is VERY IMPORTANT here. I would not recommend doing this if I was posting images in an online gallery. I get to control how quickly they see the images, so they don’t end up in analysis paralysis.

I also offer products with higher image counts. I have one album option that has up to 100 pages in it, so they could potentially buy 100 images.

I choose to do this because Boudoir photography is a very intimate experience. While I am the expert and know which photos are the best, I like to give them some say in the final selections. Sometimes, the smile I love the most is not the smile that they love. My brand is about self-acceptance and beauty within all of us, but I also understand that we all have some quirks that we can learn to accept, and still might not want a photograph of them.

Proofing the Photographs

I do all of my preparation for viewing sessions in Lightroom. I do not open Photoshop for a single image for the In Person Sales Session. After I have completed my culling of the images, I go through them and do a check on the White Balance and on the colors. I convert some to black and white. I might adjust a crop.

I choose to only do full retouching on the final images that they select for their albums and wall art in Photoshop.

I educate my clients repeatedly on this part of my process. At the session I will remind my clients that I do not do full retouching because, “If I did that, you would have to wait so long to see your photographs! I know you’re excited and you can’t wait to see them!” They get it, they really do.

I also don’t do full retouching again because of what I have opted to build as my brand. I think that the mass media’s extreme overuse of Photoshop is distorting our image of reality and our perception of beauty. I want my clients to see just how beautiful they truly are – without Photoshop! I’ve had several clients question me in their viewing sessions, insisting I had modified their images. Nope, not at all … that is ALL YOU. Beautiful. Just like you are.

Recently, I saw a photographer friend post proofs online from a session she had had done. The proofs were fully retouched. She said in the commentary, “If only I looked like this every day.” I won’t lie, it broke my heart a little. It resonated with me. That is why I don’t fully retouch my proofs.

In our viewing session, if I sense that they are hesitating over an image because of a flaw that they see, I will discuss with them what I am going to edit in the photographs. I have not found retouching the images makes any difference in my sales, and since it impacts my costs it is more profitable for me to not do it.

Preparing the Slideshow

Once I have completed culling the images and doing an quick pass through the images to color correct them, I select images for a slideshow that I create with Animoto. I normally select 50-75 images. I use this slideshow to kick off our meeting as it gives them a chance to just see the images without thinking about if they are going to stay or go.

How Long My Workflow Takes

My workflow, from importing the images in to Lightroom, through culling them, color correcting them, selecting images for Animoto and making the Animoto Slideshow itself takes me 1 to 1.5 hours. (This does not include the time to back up the cards to two drives – I normally start that at night when I’m done working and walk away.) My goal is for this to be a quick process.

Of course, this time does not include the full, final retouching I will do to an image before it goes to print – this is just my workflow to get me to the viewing session.

What is Your Workflow?

Do you do things the same? Different? Any tips or advice?

Photo Credit: qthomasbower, used under Creative Commons

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Christine

Writer, Coach, Avenger of Sexiness. My Superpower: Helping you grow your Confidence and rediscover your Beauty. It is time to stop believing the lies of the Perfection Culture. I live in Houston, Texas when I'm not traveling in my Mini Cooper. After all, Have Gear, Will Travel!
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21 Comments

  • Thanks for sharing Christine… I wish I had read this post a year ago before I perfected my workflow. I was really struggling with my workflow before I learned a few tricks with LR.

    I should start out by saying that I’m always down to tweak my workflow as I get better at what I do. I wanted to share my workflow as well, it’s very similar. I upload the CF card to Lightroom when I get home from the photo shoot. I have Lightroom settings all setup for uploading the RAW files into Lightroom (with 1:1 previews) and at the same time they are being copied to my hard drive and my backup drive… all while I sleep or eat… whatever.

    The next day I cull through my photos… usually narrowing it down from 200 – 300 photos to around 60 – 80 proofs. I am opposite of Christine, where she hates to narrow images down, I hate having more images than I want to work with. Very much a preference of how you like to work your files. We are the same in that I also do NOT open Photoshop during this process. My lighting stays consistent because I’m in the studio in most cases, so I have made my own presets for Lightroom (color correcting, color boost, contrast, etc.) and I can quickly apply presets (using sync) to get my images looking awesome in no time.

    I usually have a little clean-up to do after that step. I clone light-switches out and do cropping on any images that need it (all in Lightroom) before I can export. I export the 60-80 proofs at 12 inches on long side @ 300dpi – they go to a folder called Name_proofs (Lightroom also adds an extension onto the file name img_8967-1) so now my proofs are re-numbered (1 – 80) without changing the original file name. I export them at this size, because later I will work off of the proof folder to pull images for the client’s order. I don’t need to go back into Lightroom to pull images and it saves me time.

    So now my proofs are in the folder ready to go. I use Adobe Bridge to open the proof folder and I go to Tools _Photoshop_Image Processor and I batch process all 80 proofs through Photoshop for the final touch. I have created my own “boudoir” action in Photoshop, it does some light skin smoothing (Imagenomics plug-in) and some extra color/contrast boost… it takes about 5 minutes for it to run through all 80 proofs and save the files to the same folder.

    Now my proofs are ready to rock. I also educate my client SEVERAL times on this process and I make sure they understand that photos go through round 1 and 2 of editing. Round 1 is just for proofing, round 2 is my artistic editing for the final print, and they get to approve the final edit before I send it off to print. Clients seem to understand why you can’t spend your time editing EVERY single image, they know you have better things to do. They get it.

    In-person sales are helpful because as Christine does, she is helping them chose, and helping explain that she can make edits to certain images, if there is an element in the photo the client doesn’t like (slimming arms, thighs, etc.). I agree wholly with Christine about not altering the client too much. I decided a long time ago, that I’m a photographer first and a photo retoucher second. Everyone can benefit for a little retouching… everyone wants to look nice of course, but I’m not in the business of providing unrealistic editing. So clients are pretty pleased when they get the final photos back looking even MORE awesome than the proofs did.

    Currently I try to do all most all sales in-person but I won’t lie… I’ve been doing online sales for the last 3 years. I don’t recommend it, who knows how much money I’ve lost doing it that way.

    I also make an Animoto slideshow for my client, to show at the beginning of the ordering appointment, clients love the slideshow. Then we cull down the images together, me and the client, pick the album or product, talk about editing if needed, and ask how they would like to pay for that? Credit or check? LOL.

    I use Lightroom on my laptop…the laptop is connected via HDMI cord to a larger LCD monitor (color calibrated). For sales sessions the client and I sit at a desk with the laptop, while the client sits up close to the other monitor at the desk. I use the P for pick and U for unpick to sort through the proofs with the client. I hope this info can help someone out there. :-)

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