Every editor will have their own personal workflow when editing photos. No editor is the same. Today I’m going to talk through how I edit my photos and hopefully give new budding photographers some useful tips.
Before editing any photo you need to find your style. What’s your vibe? Do you prefer light and airy or dark contrast with bold colours? Personally, I’m not a fan of light an airy. I love upping the contrast and making the colours pop. I also love my browns and hate greens. Find the tones you don’t like so you can manipulate them into something you do like. There is no right or wrong way to edit a photo. You do you and don’t worry about what other people are doing with their photos. It’s better to stand out from the crowd!
So… let’s get technical. The first thing I do is open up Lightroom. Import the photos, go through them and cull my favourite ones. This is where you get rid of the bad ones and don’t be afraid to be brutal when getting rid of some. After all you don’t want to spend hours editing a photo that’s just “ok” you want to be editing great photos.
After I’ve finished culling, I go through the culled photos one more time, you never know you might change your mind about editing one of them. After this I begin my edit.
As you can see from the before picture of the sunset photo, it’s very dark and there’s not a lot of detail. I had to up the red’s and oranges a lot to make the sky pop. As well as adding some blue tones to the shadows for the sea. By upping the contrast and bringing up my shadows, I’ve created a much lighter image. You can see the rocks and the sea a lot clearer. You can also see a really nice reflection on the water.
I love the contrast in this image because the top is really warm and bright and the bottom is cold and dark.
One of the things you need to do when looking at a photo for the first time is pick out the things that need removing. You need to know what you don’t want in the image. For me, when I first looked at this I knew I didn’t want people in it and I also didn’t want the fencing. I also noticed the white dots on the rock but because these are just birds, I decided I wanted to keep them as they add to it. I don’t like tourists in my shots because they make an image look unprofessional, the same with the fencing. If I left these things in the image, then it’s just another tourist photograph.
There’s quite a lot of mist that comes from the waterfall so I upped my dehaze slider to make it look less hazy and more striking. I always edit in Lightroom first, before importing the image into Photoshop to add more tweaks.
To remove the tourists and fencing, I import the image into Photoshop as there’s a few different ways to remove unwanted things. Photoshop is also a great way to add layers of colour to your image. I find that you can manipulate an image a lot more in Photoshop than in Lightroom. For example, I always add a black and white layer to all my images and then change the layer from normal to darken and reduce the opacity. This adds contrast and don’t worry even though you’ve added a black and white layer the image is still in colour.
You can also do the same with adding gradients, colours etc. I often add a brown layer to my images that contain people to compliment their skin tone. I use gradients when there’s directional light in my images as this enhances where the light is coming from. Photoshop is so versatile.
As I’ve mentioned, I hate greens. I don’t know why but I think it’s a really tacky colour. Therefore, I lower the greens drastically in Lightroom using the saturation, hue and luminance sliders. Then your greens go from a horrible bright green to a dark greeny/yellowy colour.
I’ve also made the image a lot warmer. This was an engagement shoot, I don’t want it to be cold and dark. It needs to represent happiness and love. It’s something to always keep in mind when editing a photo. What type of photo is it? What does it need to show and represent? That will help you massively in deciding what sort of style you should be editing with.
You can see the after picture is a little closer and straighter. ALWAYS make sure you’ve cropped your image to make it straight if it isn’t already. You also want to make sure your subject is in the centre. Or in this case, the two heads need to be in the middle.
I spent a lot of time editing the road from this shoot. There were so many dirty marks that I had to get rid of. If you’re editing photos for a client you want them to be as professional as possible. Therefore, I got rid of any cars in the background, any markings on the road and any other unwanted objects.
Instead of a before and after, here is two edited photos. One in colour and one in black and white. If you’re heading down the weddings & engagements route you’ll probably start to edit photos in black and white as it creates beautiful timeless images. I love editing black and white photos I think it makes an image look really powerful.
Like my colour editing my black and white style is also very contrasted and bold.
With nature photos you want to keep it as natural as possible because it’s a representation of beautiful natural creations. All I’ve done with this image is up the contrast and remove some of the white markings on the butterfly just to make it a little cleaner. I didn’t do anything too drastic. Oh and of course I also lowered my green sliders.
So what are my top 10 tips for editing photos?
- Work out what your style is going to be
- Work out what you want the photo to represent
- What type of photo is it? If it’s nature you want it to enhance what’s already there
- If you don’t like something get rid of it or change it
- There’s no right or wrong way to edit a photo
- Start in Lightroom and then use Photoshop to manipulate a photo further
- Take full advantage of the layers in Photoshop to enhance your photos
- Always straighten your images (no one likes a wonky horizon)
- Edit how you want to edit and don’t compare your images to others
- Put your own personal stamp on your images