If you’re anything like I was a few years ago and feeling unhappy with your work, you’re probably always on the look out for the latest action or editing tip to take your photos from ok to WOW! If you’re searching for the secret tip to make your photos special and look like your photography idol’s work, I have some bad news for you…. it has less to do with your editing and more to do with getting it right in camera.
Photoshop – there to enhance, not to fix
Even after 5 years as a newborn photographer, there are still so many things for me to learn about Photoshop. It’s an incredibly powerful tool. As I have become a more experienced photographer though, I find that I am using it less and less. There is a huge market in post processing actions and presets. I too fell in to the trap when I was first starting out of forever being on the lookout for the right action to help make my work look like my photographer idol’s. When I bought and used them though, I soon discovered that my work still didn’t look how I wanted. I was desperate to find the “secret”!
In all honesty, the “secret” of getting good images is all about lighting. Lighting. Is. Everything! For the work that I do, it’s all about soft light for me. That’s why I use a large 50 inch softbox. Once you have beautiful light, it’s all about knowing how to use it. This is something that you develop slowly over time and with practise. After a while you just know where to position your subject in the light to get the look you’re after. If you’re a complete novice, you might like to have a read of my Exposure, Lighting = Everything blog article to get you started.
Once you start getting beautiful images in camera, you’ll really begin to see a huge jump in the quality of your work. You’ll spend less time in front of the computer and will be much happier with your images. A win for everyone!
The Photoshop Recipe for Beautiful Images
You’ll notice that if you look closely, there really isn’t a great deal of difference between my SOOC (straight out of camera) image, and the final photoshopped image. I get a lot of people asking for tips on how to edit their images to get a similar look to mine. Honestly, editing is such a personal thing. It’s all about your own creative eye. Give the same RAW file to 20 photographers to edit, and you’ll get 20 very different looking final edits back. My only tip is to edit with purpose – to look at your image and make changes based on what you want to see in your image, not “just because”. Quite often people fall into the trap of using actions which semi-automate the editing process without an understanding of how the action works or what it is doing to your image.
Depending on the image, and my vision for what I want for my image, there are really only a few steps that I take when I’m editing. I always bring my images in to Lightroom first and play around with the contrast, perhaps a bit of HSL, curves, I generally bump up the midtones. I leave my fine Photoshop editing work until after my clients have ordered and paid for their chosen packages for efficiency.
I do occasionally use Presets and Actions to help me speed up the editing process. I have modified these to suit my own tastes and needs. I can highly recommend JinkyArt’s Presets for Lightroom, and if you’re a baby photographer Kelly Brown’s Newborn Actions are the bomb!
Have any other questions? I’d love to hear from you