Here we go again! Another post from me about Photoshop Actions. But this one is a little different. I feel compelled to defend them for some reason. Well… not just for “some reason” but because I have recently read a few posts (which I will not call out) from other sites where the author claims that using actions is “cheating.”
For professional photographers who edit their own photos, actions make our job so much easier, and can actually bring savings for our clients. Time is money. And the more time we have to spend working on a photo the more money we have to charge our clients. I personally prefer to remain a photographer… not a graphic artist. Now don’t get me wrong… I have been known to spend hours editing one photo simply because I have something specific in mind that I want to achieve. But for the most part the only editing I like to do is removing blemishes, smoothing out skin, and possibly enhancing the eyes. I hope to get it right in the camera to begin with!
But occasionally I may choose to edit an entire series of photos. When I do this, I usually want the photos to all be edited the same! This is where actions are perfect… especially when I am editing wedding photos! I usually end up with over 1000 photos from a wedding. I can click the record button before I start editing one photo so that when I go to edit the rest… all I have to do is hit the play button and tweak. But even better than that is when I use a few set of actions that I purchased from someone who knows a lot more about Photoshop than me. Like I said… I’m a photographer… not a graphic artist!
Here is an example of a photo that I took last year. This photo is straight out of the camera.
This next version is the same exact photo with three different actions applied to it. The first action I ran was Nichole Van’s Soft Color Pop action. Then I tweaked the layers, and flattened. Before I ran another action, I adjusted a few colors in the photo. The second action I ran was Nichole Van’s Selective Skin Smooth action. This is my favorite skin smooth action that I’ve ever used. It is so simple because it simply allows me to paint in where I want it to be smooth, and then adjust the opacity to my taste. Then the final action that I ran was Pioneer Woman’s Bring Out The Eyes action. There are many good eye editing actions out there, but I have found this one to be the fastest and easiest… and it gets the perfect look for me every time!
Most of my photos have a specific editing style that is signature to me. That style typically tends to be a little on the over exposed side with colors that pop! I have searched for actions and/or presets for both Photoshop and Lightroom that help to enhance my style. But even when using actions and presets, it is necessary to tweak your edits to fit the photo subject that you are working with. So sure… anyone can click a button. But actions just let you click ONE button in just a few seconds instead of having to click MANY buttons and taking several hours… which ultimately costs your clients more money. You still have to make your photos “fit your style” of photography. Trust me… your clients do not care if you used actions or not. Hopefully they hired you for your style. They don’t care how you achieve it. But they will care about the price tag! So what is your style?… Your signature look?
A few of my favorite places to go to purchase actions are:
Totally Rad and
And if you would like to learn how to create your own set of actions, you should check out this tutorial from Epic Edits. It is very easy to read, follow, and understand!
What about you guys? How do you feel about using actions? Is it cheating? Do you have a favorite set of actions? Share the info with us. Where else can we find some fabulous actions? Leave me some comments people! And for crying out loud… have you subscribed to the blog yet?