In my capacity as a wedding photography business owner, I’m always on the lookout for ways to cut down on the amount of time I’m at my desk. I’ve written extensively on this blog about the photo editing process that wedding photographers typically do.
I’ve written posts on whether wedding photographers retouch photos, how photographers edit photos, and even what factors affect the way finished wedding photos look.
All this is to say, photography editing is a topic I’ve always been ambivalent about. On the one hand, I love the process of taking the RAW files and turning them into the art that is fully edited wedding photos which a client cherishes forever.
On the other hand, I’ve always secretly been a bit resentful about how much of my time the editing process actually takes. Hence the constant need to explain it to clients, who may otherwise assume we just slap a filter on, upload them and call it a day.
Now, hear me out. I know that sounds SO ungrateful. But the fact of the matter is, when the wedding is over and all the other vendors are onto the next project, the photographer’s work is just beginning.
As I reference in this article about a typical workday for a wedding photographer, we can easily spend 20 hours editing a wedding. The thing that I have personally found most frustrating about the process is that in order to set myself up for a speedy editing run, it pays to clear my plate of all other tasks.
And THAT plate-clearing is a process that can honestly take a week to do. Only then can I confidently give over a full 6 or 8 hours to getting a large chunk of that wedding done in one sitting.
How to truly speed up your photo editing process
On my YouTube channel, I’ve touched on subjects like how to speed up your Lightroom editing process by making adjustments to your workflow.
I shared in that video tips like optimizing your catalog, generating and using Lightroom’s Smart Previews, and using culling software like PhotoMechanic.
And while many of these tips will undoubtedly save time, they aren’t going to allow you to cut that time exponentially, so much as shave off a few minutes here and there.
When the opportunity to try ImagenAI came around, I was eager to try it. I saw a post on Reddit by Yotam, the co-founder, and I was hooked.
Coming from a productivity hacking point of view, I wanted to make some serious inroads in not just trimming my Lightroom editing time, but cutting it by orders of magnitude.
Surely, an editing software that is said to boost your productivity X 4 is too good to be true, right?
Watch my video (it’s also linked below) to find out what happened when I tried ImagenAI.
In the video, I sit down and use the tool and set it up from start to finish. I also use it on a real client wedding.
For those that prefer to read (and to provide a little more context and information), here’s what you need to know after you’ve checked out the video.
What is ImagenAI?
ImagenAI works with your Adobe Lightroom desktop program. It is a separate program, not a Lightroom plug-in.
As the name implies, it uses AI to generate a profile that is unique to the way that you edit. It applies your custom editing style to all of the projects that you choose to send it. To train the AI, you’ll actually send anything up to 40,000 edited photos which are a starting point for your profile.
It is, in short, an AI-powered Lightroom editing tool that evolves with you.
Unlike a simple Lightroom preset, the edits it applies are different, depending on the specific photo it’s editing. Also unlike a preset, ImagenAI uses machine learning to then further tweak and refine the edits you’ve made afterwards! So if it got anything wrong, it’ll do a better job next time.
How does ImagenAI work?
It applies edits to new projects as if you were doing those edits yourself! ImagenAI goes one step beyond the simplistic technique of ‘Syncing your edits’ across multiple photos, by applying machine learning to the editing process.
Through neural networks, ImagenAI takes pre-edited photos, parameters, and metadata from catalogs and generates a profile that is unique to each editor and photographer.
Basically, it’s there to save you time. We all know editing is a tedious process, so this is a nifty piece of intelligent software that can do some of the legwork for you.
There’s actually another strand to what ImagenAI offers but I am not going to get into it too deep here. Basically, there is a product called ‘Talents’, in which you can purchase the exact editing styles of top photographers who use the software.
So, use it to create your own profile, or borrow the exact editing used by photographers you admire. Kind of like purchasing a Lightroom preset, but better.
What does ImagenAI adjust in Lightroom?
This AI software adjusts:
Temperature and tint
Exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, whites and blacks
Clarity, vibrance, saturation, texture and dehaze
Hue, saturation and luminance
Cropping & straightening.
I wanted to try it out for myself, so I went about setting it up and will share with you here the exact steps. I used the free trial which is available to anyone that wants to try it! In full disclosure, I received 3 weddings for free, but since then, the trial has switched to 1,000 edit credits for free.
And the good news is, when you sign up using my referral link, you’ll get an extra 500 credits on top of the 1,000 already offered! 🤯
1. Set up your profile.
So, the way it works is that you set up your unique editing profile first. This will involve training the AI which takes place very quickly. Click which previous weddings or projects you want it to use as learning material.
Then you will name your profile. I only have one profile because I only use this for my wedding work. But you may have several types of photography you offer, which have very different profiles. For example, sports, real estate, family photography and boudoir shoots. Set up a different profile for each if desired.
2. Cull your wedding in the normal way so you have only the files you want to edit
I personally use PhotoMechanic for this, but whatever the case, make sure you have designated a system for identifying the ‘keepers’. You only want to have the software edit the photos you’re going to send to the client!
It’s important to sync up your Lightroom, so it reflects the final selections. I do this by selecting all my images, then choosing ‘Read Metadata from files’ I use the star system, and I designate all final images with 1 star.
3. Close Lightroom and open ImagenAI, selecting ‘Send Projects for Editing’
Once you have a project you’re ready to send, simply open the software and you’ll see a few images. Click ‘Send Projects for Editing’
You can select multiple projects if you have a bunch ready to go! Then select them from the list of all your projects, that ImagenAI will pull. Yes, this will work even if you have one giant catalog like I do, a separate catalog for each wedding, or whether you use the ‘Folders’ or ‘Collections’ system (I use folders only).
Next, select the wedding you’d like to send by marking it with a check mark on the left hand side of the screen.
4. Upload the project(s)
Then hit ‘send’ and ImagenAI will upload the project. I would allow about 15 – 20 minutes for this process but it will vary depending on the number of images, computer you’re using and your internet connection. Don’t worry, it’s not your original RAW files that are being sent, just the previews.
5. Wait for your email and download your edits
After about 20 minutes or so, you’ll receive an email from ImagenAI that your edits are ready.
Follow the instructions and head back to the program, this time selecting ‘Download Edits to Catalog’
6. Watch as all your photos are edited for you!
ImagenAI will update your Lightroom catalog automatically as soon as you open it up! Just select the event name again, just like you did when you were uploading.
It’s pretty cool seeing the edits being done right in front of your eyes.
At this point, I would still of course want to go in and check each image individually – just like you would with a human editor.
The results using ImagenAI – before and after
Here are a few examples of the before and after using ImagenAI!
In this photo below, you can see how good a job the software did of cropping out some extraneous background and also getting the exposure and color just the way I would do. No extra tweaks were needed on this one – delivered straight to client!
Below is another wedding image where ImagenAI got the edit pretty much perfect. The tweak I made was a very minor straightening adjustment, because I tried out the software before there was the option for straightening which there now is.
One more example photo showing how lovely an edit ImagenAI performed. I wanted to show more of the dress but color-wise etc, it was perfect.
How much does ImagenAI cost?
The current pricing of ImagenAI is a $7/month usage fee, plus a fee for color correction on Lightroom per image as follows:
|Price per photo||Photos per month|
|6¢||1 – 1,000|
|5¢||1,001 – 5,000|
|4¢||5,001 – 10,000|
Please check the most up-to-date pricing by visiting ImagenAI’s website which can be accessed here. Pricing is subject to change at any time without notice.
The main plus points of ImagenAI
🚀 The turnaround time is lightning fast
If you struggle with meeting your own self-imposed client delivery schedules (or like me tend to procrastinate until the last moment) this tool is really helpful! I sometimes drag my feet because I dread being in that ‘editing cave’. Using AI to edit makes editing a much more manageable task.
💸 It’s cheaper than a human editor
There was a time when I was considering outsourcing my editing. I would need to raise my rates a little to offset the cost, but that’s not a big deal, right? 2020 had other plans, and the wedding world is a changed one. I’ve been tightening my belt.
The cost of a human editor is high, not to mention the time spent training them (then training someone new when your editor leaves the company).
ImagenAI boasts a disruptive pricing model, with rates as low as 4¢ per image.
🕰️ 24/7 availability
No having to wait for someone to wake up to be able to perform the work. I love that not only is it fast (1 second per edit) but if I choose to do my editing at 2 in the morning because that’s the only time I can get any peace, I can get my edits back just as quickly as if I was working during regular office hours.
📈 Easy, elastic scaling
This one probably won’t apply to me because I’m not planning to expand my business like crazy, but to those photographers who use the associate model, ImagenAI could be a very useful addition to the team. Why? Well, if your team goes from shooting 3 weddings to 10 weddings on a single weekend, it only takes a matter of a few minutes more to perform all those edits! ImagenAI can support any edit volumes, great news if you’re planning to not just grow but scale your photography business.
🧠 It saves my brain energy
LOL, I know. But editing in Lightroom can be mentally quite draining because of the huge amount of micro-decisions you are forced to make for every single photo. Is the white balancing correct? Is it consistent with the next and previous photo? Is there enough noise reduction? Are the skin tones accurate? What about that horizon line?
I could tweak my photos endlessly. The bottom line? Clients don’t notice that your white balance is 10 points different between photo 1 and photo 2. Most photographers honestly wouldn’t even notice. Now that I use ImagenAI, I have a rule. I only go in and make a change if there is something actually wrong with the edit. It puts a strict parameter around what is worth my time and what simply isn’t.
This in itself has been quite revolutionary. The difference between good enough and absolutely perfect is real. Many photographers get lost in that gap. That is why they burn out.
📷 It’s making me a better photographer!
OK this is definitely a strange one to admit, but hear me out. As part of my overall desire to spend less time editing, I also made a commitment to getting it right in camera. I have always wanted my edits to be fairly light – and a big part of this is making sure that there isn’t a TON of heavy lifting to be done later, whether in Lightroom or Photoshop.
After this many years in business, I think I was getting sloppy sometimes when actually shooting. This software is going to give you better results, I think, when the raw material you’re feeding in is decent quality. No more shooting at 8,000 ISO and then spending ages getting rid of noise, just because I can’t be bothered to bust out a flash.
Negatives of ImagenAI
Cropping is sometimes a little off
To my eye, the above image looked much nicer with a little more breathing room around the couple, and the brow of the hill in the distance.
I personally didn’t love the cropping feature (and haven’t tried straightening yet as of the time of writing).
The crops were sometimes a little too random for my taste (though sometimes they were spot on). But it was actually time-consuming to review each crop rather than simply not cropping and only adding a crop if, on image review, it was needed. This is one way that outsourcing my editing is making me a better photographer. I want to get it right in camera!
Therefore I personally would probably not use cropping, which is an additional paid feature. I would probably feel the same about straightening, but haven’t tried this yet.
Edits were sometimes too cool (blue-colored)
Next up, sometimes the editing software in my experience came out with edits that are a bit too cool. I’m not sure why this would be, as it’s only using my own previous edits as a guide. Check out this edit:
But one thing I must say is that in the above image, it’s a deceptively complex lighting profile. The photo was taken right at that near-twilight hour, when there is still natural light but it’s turning blue. Coupled with this, there is some artificial light in the image, so it’s a mixed lighting profile. Perhaps it didn’t have anything similar in my catalog for it to pull from.
I’d like to see more complex individual hue desaturation
There is a lot of blue in the veil above that I would like to see removed. I did this in my final edit by 1) warming up the image overall and 2) desaturating the blues in the hue slider.
This brings me to another point that I would LOVE to see as a feature of ImagenAI. My own mental if/ then logic when I’m editing is something like:
Desaturate blue if there is a blue color cast on an object that is not normally blue (for example a bridal veil or a white wall); if there are no other important blue objects in the frame (example: groom is wearing a blue suit).
Desaturate aqua or magenta chromatic aberration (aka fringing) unless there are important elements in the photo that share that same color (example: someone is wearing a turquoise dress).
Noise reduction wasn’t applied uniformly
A couple of other things that the software didn’t pick up on: the particular noise reduction that I apply to every photo (it’s actually part of my own self-made preset that all my editing was based off of), which is in Noise Reduction > Luminance.
However, strangely it did pick up on the Color noise reduction on the same set of sliders. That was added to every image edited by ImagenAI, whereas I have had to manually apply the Luminance myself and sync it across all images for all projects I’ve sent so far.
By the same token, it applied Sharpening (under Detail) but sharpening is not something I actually use in the 25,000 images I sent. Well, at least I didn’t think I used it – but it must be pulling it from somewhere!
I may misremember or edit haphazardly… whereas ImagenAI is data-driven and analytical. Another reason I feel comforted knowing it’s actually less likely to make mistakes, oversights or get sloppy after a hard day’s work… like I might!
Being such a new tool, I wouldn’t be surprised if the improvements come at a fast rate. So if you like the sound of it, I wouldn’t let these relatively minor criticisms put you off. Plus, the more you edit and train the algorithm, the more accurate your edit will be!
Quick ImagenAI Q&A – what it doesn’t do!
Is ImagenAI free?
No, it’s not free but you can get a free trial of 1,000 editing credits when you sign up. If you use my link, as an affiliate I can offer you an extra 500 credits on top. Once your trial is over, I think you’ll find the pricing pretty reasonable especially when compared to any of the big photo editing companies.
Can you use ImagenAI instead of Lightroom?
ImagenAI is an AI-powered Lightroom editing assistant, so you must have a valid subscription to Lightroom in order for the software to work. It is not an alternative to Lightroom, but integrates seamlessly.
Does this tool work on Lightroom mobile?
It doesn’t work on mobile for the moment! I use this personally on Lightroom Classic CC.
Does ImagenAI do any culling?
The tool doesn’t cull, you need to have prepared your final image selections and update Lightroom before you get going sending projects to the program.
Does ImagenAI do Photoshop work or fine image adjustments?
ImagenAI uses only the parameters that I’ve mentioned in this article. It doesn’t perform actions like Spot Removal, Graduated Filter or Radial Filter. It can’t do actions like removing background people or trash cans from the image.
ImagenAI is a valuable addition to a high-volume photographer’s toolkit or anyone who spends way too long on their editing. It integrates seamlessly with Lightroom and does SO much more than the regular preset style of editing you may be used to.
To anyone that’s a bit skeptical, or just curious like I was, I highly encourage you to give it a whirl! It has been a lifesaver for me, coming the awkward place where editing was taking up way too much of my time, but I wasn’t in a position financially to outsource to a human editor.
I hope this review of ImagenAI is helpful! Thank you for reading and be sure to let me know in the comments if this article was helpful as you begin the next evolution of smart professional photography editing.
AI and machine learning tools are so much fun to experiment with in various aspects of your business. This is definitely just the beginning! 🎉