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I'm working with a variety of photos that have already been taken by several different amateurs. I don't have the ability to provide direction in how these photos are taken, and I want to treat that as a creative constraint rather than throwing up my hands in exasperation. But how? I need to present these photos together, so I want to give them a consistent look and feel.

Notes:

  • I'll be using Adobe Lightroom 5 to edit.
  • The photos are JPEG, not RAW.
  • The end product is a video, although this question applies to magazines, websites, books...
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2  
A cheap trick: convert to black and white. It makes a horrible mess of poor-quality photos look fairly consistent. –  Jukka Suomela May 13 at 22:30

2 Answers 2

JPEG is the biggest limiting factor, but barring significant issues with any of the photos, start with whatever has the weakest color and contrast, color grade it as best you can to your tastes and work from there.

It really depends on your skill at color grading as to how consistent of a color you'll be able to get, so long as there is sufficient starting material to work with that isn't super far off.

You will also likely have to do a lot of cropping to try to standardize the composition a bit, but your options there are a lot more limited. Standardized grading should work ok for them being published together though.

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Please define "consistent look and feel" for yourself, based on the knowledge of all the photos, because you seem to have no actionable definition of that, and that is the source of your troubles. And we have even lesser clue about your pictures.

E.g. if you want to have color temperature consistency, you set that on all photos. If you want orientation, color dominance, contrast, saturation, etc., you will have to see how you can set those consistently, without ruining the message of the photos. But it is up to you to define what is "consistent".

E.g. you could create square crops, use Auto Tone, Auto Color, Auto Contrast, and then desaturate. You would have a large degree of consistency...

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