Recently, I’ve gotten several questions about my thoughts on Photoshop actions. Although I own several action sets, I really don’t use them all that much. It’s probably because I’ve never really taken the time to play around with them and probably because I’ve found my own “recipe” in Lightroom that gives me exactly the look I want in my photos. However, I believe that Photoshop actions can be an awesome addition to your workflow if you can find (or create) an action that works for your style.
There are several different action sets available. I have Kubota, MCP and Totally Rad sets and I really do love one of the Kubota black + white actions, which I use for all of my black + white conversions. I’ve played around and found a few actions that are close to my style, but I still prefer to do it myself – especially with my pet photography clients, since I’m really only processing 50-75 images for them. I realize that I could save time using a Photoshop action, but I like touching every image personally. I’m weird like that.
Although I do not use Photoshop actions (except for my black + white conversions), it doesn’t mean that they aren’t a great tool to use. I know that I need to start using them, especially in my wedding photography work, because I cannot possibly touch all 800+ images personally. That would just be insane. My suggestion for anyone looking into Photoshop actions would be to just play around with them and take the time to integrate them into your workflow as early as you can. They can certainly help define your style if you use them consistently. Don’t go crazy with actions, though. Although it’s tempting, find a style you like and stick with it – especially when you’re processing a single session. Your client won’t want to see one image that’s bright + colorful, followed by an image that’s unsaturated + vintage. It will totally confuse them. Play around on your own personal images and go from there. Photoshop actions can be a great tool if used correctly!