I had a nice conversation a few days ago with a friend who wants to become a wedding photographer. She has been leisurely photographing for years, but has never gone further than the typical Photoshop adjustments for post-processing. She knows nothing about organizing her photos, storing them, editing in Camera Raw, Lightroom or anything like that. Of course, I suggested that she sign up for my blog email list and that she begin reading through my posts. She can quickly get a handle on things if she does that.
One area she was particularly interested in was making different variations of a photo in Adobe Lightroom. She knows that Lightroom is “the” program for wedding photographers. She also has a friend in the business and was told that clients love to see the same shot in different styles. She’s all about “wowing” people and she’s thinking ahead to future business. She wants every client to say something like, “She really was the best wedding photographer. She gave us multiple options for many photos and we truly enjoyed seeing the variety of styles.” I couldn’t help but to agree.
Because this is on my mind, I figured I’d write a post that specifically walks through the process of creating different “looks” for the same photo. I’ll use the type of picture that you’d typically see in a wedding portfolio and I’ll use virtual copies in Lightroom to make my point.
Now, just in case this is your first time hearing about or seeing virtual copies, you should definitely check out my previous posts on the topic. They are chock full of great information.
For this post, I’ll use a really nice picture of two rings on a pillow. People love these types of shots and it’s surely one that would look great in different situations. Here’s the photo.
Creating Virtual Copies
My goal with this post is to end up with the original photo file, along with three additional virtual copies of it. For each version, I want a different style. At the end, I’ll show you how you can preview all four versions of the photo at once in Lightroom. This is really helpful if you have someone standing over your shoulder or if you have your laptop visible to someone close by. They’ll be able to quickly and easily get the gist of what you created.
I already have the photo imported into Lightroom and am currently in the Develop module using the Loupe view.
You can also see the thumbnail in the filmstrip view at the bottom of the application.
To create the three virtual copies, I’ll right click on the original image thumbnail and select Create Virtual Copy.
I’ll do this for a total of three times. This will give me four instances of the image. Take a look at the thumbnails in the filmstrip now.
Now that the virtual copies have been made, I can move forward with editing each version.
Editing the Virtual Copies
I’ve written about editing photos in Lightroom and Camera Raw in tons of other posts, so I won’t go over that part of the process here. What I’ll do is simply edit each instance of the photo in a way that clearly differentiates it from the others. Remember, the ultimate goal is to review the differences between the photos right here in Lightroom, so it would be nice if those differences were noticeable.
Okay, I’ve gone ahead and made the edits. If you look at the thumbnails now, you’ll see the differences. They aren’t very clear though, so that’s what we’ll take care of in the next section.
For the first image, I merely went through some typical edits that cleaned up the photo. I made some highs a bit higher and some lows a bit lower. I added some clarity, vibrance and contrast as well.
I changed the second image to black and white and then pushed the color sliders around somewhat to either harden or soften those specific areas of the photo. To learn more about this technique, you can read this post:
Even though the above post uses Camera Raw as the demo image processor, the same steps can be taken in Lightroom.
For the last two variations of the image, I used the settings for the first thumbnail and copied them over. I then brightened the Shadows and pushed the Temperature slider either to the right or to the left. One adds warmth and the other adds coolness.
Previewing the Photo Variations
This is really easy. Basically, I want to change my view from Loupe to Survey. To do that, all I need is a few clicks of the mouse.
The first step I’ll take is to highlight the images I want to preview in Survey View. To do this, I’ll click on the first thumbnail in the collection, hold down the Shift key on my keyboard and then click on the last thumbnail in the collection.
When I’m done with that, I can do two things. I can either click the Survey View button that’s located at the bottom of the center panel or I can simply use the keyboard shortcut to accomplish the same thing. The shortcut is the N key. Here’s the Survey View. I even circled the Survey View button for you as well.
To get an even more up-close view of the photos, I can hide the side panels. To hide the panels, I can either click the small arrows that are located at the sides of the application or I can press the Tab key on my keyboard. Tab is easier, because it hides both side panels at once.
I circled the arrow on the left side of the screenshot above. These arrows are located on both sides and they control whether or not the side panels show.
I also made Lightroom more narrow so it fit better in the screenshot. I usually have things much wider.
There you have it. The workflow you’ll need to follow to create different variations of a photo using virtual copies in Adobe Lightroom. If you have any questions or concerns, please leave them in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!