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Basic Photo Editing in Lightroom

With all the tools available today to retouch digital portraits, it’s easy for us to go way overboard with editing on photos. We make a few adjustments here and there, then make a few more, and before we know it, the photo looks completely different – sometimes good, and sometimes, well, not so good.

I’ve been shooting portraits now for about 6 years with a digital camera, and when I think of some of the editing I did early on, all I can do is cringe. Yes, there is a place to do extra editing, but, we should use editing to enhance the portrait and the subject, not to detract from our subject.

When I go to edit a photo, I want to enhance the beauty that’s already there. Hopefully, I’ve gotten all the lighting correct when I shot the photo, and I just want my photo to have a little more pizazz.

I’m going to take you through my process of editing a photo, and explain step-by-step what I do to my portraits. Here’s my photo, straight out of the camera.

Photo 1.jpg

The first thing I want do is change the white balance, and make it a little warmer. I like the photo better already.

Photo 2.jpg

Here’s what I did next:

  • Brought the exposure up (+23)
  • Added some fill light (+20)
  • Brought the blacks up (10)
  • Adjusted the contrast down a bit (-13)
  • Added some vibrancy (+17)
  • Used the noise reduction (+55 Luminance) to give it a smoother finish

So here’s the before/after.

Photo 3.jpg

You’ll notice I actually did very little to edit this photo, and yet it just finishes it off and brings your attention to the bride. There’s something so great about just enhancing what’s there, and it doesn’t take a lot of time and effort to do. Sometimes we get so caught up in what we can do with the tools we have, that we forget that all we really need to do is just add a little touch to our photo to enhance the beauty of our subject.

Susie Hadeed grew up in Central America and Missisippi. She’s traveled all over the world doing photography and mission work, but just relocated to the Washington, D.C. area in the fall of 2010. Before moving she was an office manager in her father’s HVAC business, where she played an integral role in growing the company. This gave her the business foundation she needed when starting out in photography six years ago. She’s currently working at building her business and producing inspired wedding and portrait photography in the Washington D.C. area. See more of her work at Photography by Susie.

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