Soft Proofing for Photographers

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Podcast episode cover for How You Pictured It: Soft proofing for photographers


Soft Proofing For Photographers

Are you someone who dreads editing because you know it’s going to be a big time commitment? You have a hard time narrowing down images for a client’s final gallery and then end up editing for hours on end or comparing two photos that are nearly the same, feeling unsure which one the client will like better?

Maybe you’re tired of knowing that all of the time and effort you’ve put into this process isn’t fully appreciated by the client?  They’ll love the final result and share and a print several of the images you delivered but so many more just sit on a hard drive somewhere unseen and unloved. 

Soft-proofing or softproofing is a way of showing your clients images before they’ve been through the  full editing process.  Take a listen to this episode to learn more about the process and the benefits for both the client and the photographer. You’ll also hear who this method IS NOT for.

About Kate Hejde

Kate Hejde is the host and creator of How You Pictured It Podcast and Dear Kate Brand Strategy. She helps photographers create a profitable business that fits into their lives. With over 10 years of experience running her own photography business, while raising three kids, Kate believes that business is not one size fits all and that you define your own success.  Kate teaches through her podcast as well as through courses, group coaching, and 1:1 mentoring. 

Check out Kate Online: Website | Instagram | Tiktok | Pinterest


Welcome. Welcome. I’m so excited to talk to you today. This is going to be a quicker episode. I have been working really hard on getting the Photographer’s Business Edit Audio Summit up for you. It is going to be available on Thursday. You can actually though, preregister now.

What this is, is a collection of audio interviews with experts across different industries that work specifically with photographers.

So I’m talking with experts on everything from websites and CRMs to getting legal and figuring out your bookkeeping. Also emails, marketing, and copywriting.

This is really for photographers who have been in business probably a couple of years who are used to DIY-ing everything and know that they are ready for more. They’re ready for more growth. They’re ready for more clients, but they know that there are some steps that they need to take to make that leap.

These interviews will help you figure out what the next right step is and we’ll get you moving in the right direction. You can register for that at

You can find a clickable link in the description of this episode.

Those interviews will go directly to your inbox on Thursday morning and you have unlimited access to them and can listen to them in any of your favorite podcast players. So are a really easy and accessible way to get some great education. All of the interviews are about 30 minutes, so digestible and quick, and you can listen to them while you’re doing dishes or whatever. You don’t have to be stuck to the computer.

All right. Let’s jump into today’s topic. We’re going to be talking about a method of showing your clients images and selling those images. That is often called soft proofing.

So say you just got home from a session and you’re so excited about the images, but the idea of sitting down to edit right away feels super overwhelming. You know that if you sit down and you start editing, you’re going to be there for hours trying to decide which images to share with your client and then making every single one of those perfect. Which just makes your brain shut down and you don’t even want to upload them then.

It’s that feeling where, you know you can’t finish the job in the time that you have, so you don’t even want to start it. And then you start putting off your editing for days and days, and it takes weeks for your clients to see their final images.

So soft proofing is a way to help eliminate that strain on your time, your energy, and it brings back the love of photography that got you into business in the first place. What exactly does that term soft proofing mean though? Basically, it means that you’re showing your clients their images before the final editing has been done.

My images, when I get home, are uploaded and culled. I try to show around like 75 images. Often it’s closer to a hundred. I really tried to get down to that 75 though. And then I batch edit those in lightroom to fix any exposure or color issues and apply my favorite presets. That process can take me about 45 minutes from start to finish.

So it’s a lot easier to commit that time and sit down and do it. Which means that my clients get to see their images a lot sooner. Then it’s in my client’s hands to choose which images they want to purchase. You can show soft proof images in person or online. I prefer online sales as when I’m away from my kids, I’d rather be shooting than selling. So, once an order is placed, final editing and retouching takes place only on those images that the client has chosen.

So let’s talk about the benefits to both the photographer and the client in soft proofing. One it’s less time culling for the photographer because you’re putting the choice in your client’s hands. You don’t have to choose between every single close image.

You know, sometimes there’s that difference between two frames taken seconds apart where you’re not sure which one is really the true smile of the client. And you kind of get to take that decision-making out of your hands and put it in the client’s hands. They know what their true smile looks like, and it’s easier for them to choose between those two images than it is for you. I do try to get down to that 75 to 100 images in a proofing gallery though, because I don’t want it to be overwhelming for them. When you show clients images that are subpar or just not the 100% best images in your gallery, you’re opening it up to them only seeing those kind of subpar images and more is not always a better.

Second, you’re spending less time editing as the photographer because you’re only editing those purchased images.

When I was an all-inclusive photographer, one of the things that I noticed was that I was editing so many photos that would not ever see the light of day beyond the delivery. My clients didn’t love them. They weren’t printing them, they weren’t sharing them. So I had spent all of that time editing images that no one ever saw and it felt so time consuming and wasted time basically

You also know that your clients love the images they walk away with because they chose them. The client gets to purchase only the images they love. Which makes them feel more in control of the situation and of the session. And of their money. The client gets to see their images much more quickly after the session, as they are not sitting in an editing queue or just sitting on a memory card, waiting to be uploaded when you really have the time to sit down and edit.

The other benefit of getting images to clients faster is that they’re more emotionally attached and the excitement is still high, so close to their session.

So they’re more likely to make a bigger purchase.

Another benefit for the photographer is the opportunity to make more money since they’re not delivering an all inclusive gallery. When you deliver an all-inclusive gallery, you’re putting a cap on your income. There’s no upgrades, upsells, or anything additional for the client to purchase. So there’s no additional money for you to make.

When you’re soft proofing, you’re getting paid for every image that you edit, and that makes it a lot easier to make more money.

Another benefit of soft proofing is that the photographer can outsource the retouching portion of the edits and then save even more time

knowing that the artistic edit is perfectly their own vision.

For me, being able to outsource that retouching portion of the edit means that my client gets to see their images, the way that I imagined them exactly. And I’m not spending as much time on the edit. That retouching portion can be so time consuming and detail oriented and really gets

boring and repetitive for me.

With the extra time that I’m not spending on those edits, I’m able to market more or shoot more. And again, it just helps me make more money.

Those are really the biggest benefits for me of soft proofing.

But there is definitely a reason not to soft proof to. Who is soft proofing, not ideal for? Well, one it’s not ideal for photographers who do a lot of composite images. You can’t really do a light edit on something that’s going to be composited and expect clients to be able to see what the final vision is.

Number two, it’s not for photographers whose images are highly stylized and photo-shopped, if the client can’t get an idea of the final image with a quick light room edit, then this isn’t for you goes along with those composite images. And the number three 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 full story. So if you are big into storytelling and you want to create an album that tells that story from start to finish, and you have a vision for that story. Uh, soft proofing probably is not going to be the best for you.

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. I kept a lot of my same clientele. And have had clients with me from nearly the beginning of my business.

If you have more questions about the soft proofing process, definitely reach out. I’m happy to chat.

You can reach me on Instagram at dear Kate brand strategy or TikTok at the same.

I can’t wait to talk to you again soon in the photographers business. Edit, make sure to register.

That link is in the show notes And I will talk to you here again next week. Have a great one.


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