What is soft-proofing for photographers?

What is soft-proofing for photographers?

You’ve just gotten home from a session, and you are so excited about the images. But the idea of sitting down to edit right away feels overwhelming. You know if you jump in now, it’s going to take you hours to sort through and decide which images to share with your client, and then making each and every one of those perfect… your brain shuts down and you don’t even want to upload them. 

Soft-proofing helps eliminate that strain on your time, energy, and brings back the love of photography that got you into this business in the first place. So, what exactly does the term soft-proofiing even mean? Basically, it means showing clients images before the final editing has been done. My images are uploaded, culled (I try to show around 75 images though it’s often closer to 100), and then batch edited in lightroom to fix any exposure or color issues and apply my preferred preset. That process takes me about 45 minutes start to finish. 

Then it’s in my clients’ hands to choose which images they want to purchase. You can show soft-proofed images in person or online. I prefer online sales as I want to spend time away from my kids on shooting vs selling. Once an order is placed, final editing and retouching takes place only on those images. 

So what are the benefits to both the photographer and the client in soft-proofing?

  • Less time culling for the photographer because you are putting the choice in the clients’ hands
  • Less time editing for the photographer because you are only editing purchased images
  • You know your clients love the images they walk away with because they chose them
  • The client gets to purchase only the images they love, making them feel more in control
  • The client gets to see images much more quickly after the session as they are not sitting in an editing queue
  • The photographer can make more money as they are not delivering an all-inclusive gallery
  • The photographer can outsource the retouching portion of the edits and save even more time, knowing the artistic edit is perfectly their own vision

Who is soft proofing not ideal for? 

  • Photographers who do a lot of composite images 
  • Photographers whose images are highly stylized and photoshopped. If the client can’t get an idea of the final image with a quick lightroom edit, this isn’t for you
  • Photographers whose style is of a deep storytelling nature and relies on a ton of images with tiny details and the goal of creating an album. Clients will likely not choose all of the images needed to tell the story fully

You can test out soft-proofing on mini sessions to start or just dive right in! I more than doubled my average session income moving from all-inclusive to soft proofing with thoughtful packages and kept a lot of my same clientele. 

Questions about the soft-proofing process? Leave a comment or click here to learn more about Soft Proofing Made Simple.

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