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April 17, 2020

Edit Food Photos

So you have a bunch of food photos that need editing.

In modern times with social media, you need your food to look bright and catch people’s attention.

And you need a bunch of them done fast.

No problem.

Today I am going to show you how I edit hundreds of photos in just under 30 minutes.

Make your photos available, prep them, make sure they’re usable/legal

First, you want to make sure that you have all of your photos downloaded and ready to be edited.

When doing this, remember what your objective with the photo is.

If your objective is to publish it to increase your social media exposure, you have to make sure you have the media rights to do so.

If your objective is to blow it up into a big poster, you have to make sure that the resolution is good enough to not look pixelated on the final banner.

Organize your photos

There’s no better way to edit than editing when organized.

When your media is organized into the right folders, you can drag them all into your software with one selection, drag and drop.

When your media is organized, you get into the mindset of the one folder that you have it in. Whether it be the one folder for a client, the one folder for a specific type of photo, or the one folder for a specific style you are going for.

That way, when you get into editing and you are swiping through your photos, you can notice the consistencies and inconsistencies of the photos due to the style that you are going for.

When you can compare side by side, you will notice the difference in styles much easier and make the inconsistencies more consistent with lower effort.

Upload to Photo Editor

You can use any photo editing software to edit your photos. However, you want to make sure that the one you end up using has bulk editing capabilities where you can apply filters and settings to multiple photos at a time. That is the trick to getting so much editing done in so little time.

My top recommendation is Adobe Lightroom because it has all the features you need and is a very stable program by the most prestigious media editing company.

If you followed my recommendation from step 2, you should already have all your photos in one folder.

The best way to upload all of these photos is to open up Lightroom first, then drag the whole folder with all of the photos into the window in which Lightroom is open.

When you do this, Lightroom uploads all of the photos for you in seconds.

Use these presets

When it comes to editing food photos for myself and my clients, I only use this one preset.

Don’t get me wrong though, I don’t end up with the same settings for all of my photos before I export them and publish them.

I only use this one preset as a baseline because after editing millions of photos, I’ve come to find out that this preset works the best for the food that I work with. And it serves as a simple way to easily brighten and sharpen my photos without overdoing it.

Here is the one preset that I use:

  • Temp: 0
  • Tint: 0
  • Exposure: 0
  • Contrast: 0
  • Highlights: 0
  • Shadows: +50
  • Whites: 0
  • Blacks: +50
  • Clarity: +20
  • Vibrance: +10
  • Saturation: +10
  • Sharpening: +100

For all of the settings I left at 0, I found that those elements just had too wild of a factor for a majority of photos. That’s why I don’t change those settings for the initial bulk setting.

However, for Shadows, Blacks, Clarity, Vibrance and Saturation, I found that the above adjustment can be applied to most photos for an instant spruce-up.

After I apply these presets… I adjust!

Adjust after presets

After applying the preset to all of your photos, you can go through each photo and see if you think there needs to be any adjustment. 

Before you start adjusting other elements of the photo, you might want to resize and reshape the photo first.

Think about where you will publish the photo and optimize it for that platform. For example, if you are posting on Instagram, you want to at least have a 1:1 ratio or taller.

If you have a wider photo and publish on Instagram, you will find that it doesn’t grab as much attention (engagement is much lower) and it physically takes up less screen space giving you less opportunity to grab attention.

The preset that I recommend could make the picture look oversaturated or too bright. So you can lower the brightness if need be.

Some foods look better with higher clarity and some look better with higher sharpness.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, some foods look better with none of each.

So go through each photo and play around with the settings.

Select > export > export > save to same folder > rename to original & – edited

Before you say you are done editing all of your photos, sift through them two more times.

I usually triple check all the photos, reminding myself what look I am going for with this group of photos.

While I triple check, I’m looking for the one thing I needed to accomplish with all of these photos.

If that one thing is done, I’m ready to export.

To export the photos, I select all of the photos on the bottom area.

Then I right click and go to Export > Export > Save to same folder.

Then I rename the file to the original file name, but I add a “ -edited” at the end to differentiate from the original.

I like to keep both the original and the edited file because my choice of style could change in the future and I could need to go back to the original to go in a totally different direction than my first edit.

Plus, I’m a hoarder and I have unlimited storage with Google Drive so I literally just save every file and resource I can to take full advantage of it.

Compare side by side

Next, I like to compare the original photos with the newly edited photos. I do this by going to the folder in which all the photos are saved, then right click and sort by name.

If you followed the above instructions about saving the filename like I do, you now know why I like to use that as my naming convention: so I can literally see side by side the original and edited photo.

Doing this small review helps me learn from any mistakes I may have made and also helps me build confidence for my next round of edits.

As we all know, the more confident we get in our work and skills, the more naturally faster we are at the tasks within our work and skills.

They become effortless, your work doesn’t seem like work and you’ll start noticing all the flowers blooming around you.

Next: Write captions!

Speaking of flowers, editing captions is like shedding light on a flower and making it even more beautiful.

With that, you will probably notice more things about the photo now that you’ve edited it in a certain way.

These new things you notice can be used for any kind of caption writing or descriptions you want to add to the photo.

Whether you need the captions or not, it’s best to write at least one for the edited version, especially if you use my process for writing captions.

It really helps you notice things in photos and goes back to improving your eye and observations.

That’s my whole process of bulk photo editing and how I easily edit up to 100 food photos in 30 minutes.

Did any part of your photo editing process match up with mine?

Comment below and let’s see if we can come up with something better together.

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Wilson Muh

Wilson Muh

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