We all shoot portraiture during our sessions. If you’re doing a family session you’ll get some individual shots of people which is portraiture. If you’re shooting a branding session or boudoir session, that is also portraiture. Since portraits are something we all come in contact with in our lives as photographers, let’s talk about editing portraits in Lightroom.
Today I’m sharing my 5-tips for editing portraits. A lot of these might seem really simple and basic, but that’s because going back to basics and getting those right means you can add in your own personal editing touch after! I know we all have unique editing styles that attract our ideal clients so we don’t want to mess with the goodness you already do! Let’s dive into my 5 tips for editing portraits in Lightroom.
Tip 1 - Start with White Balance
As I said, this may sound basic to you, but start with white balance. Good white balance will help you achieve a good skin tone, which is especially important when working with portraits. There are two pieces to white balance. The first is making sure your monitor is calibrated correctly. If your monitor hasn’t been profiled, you might have quite the shock when viewing your work on your phone or when your work is printed! The second part is using the White Balance Selector tool in the Basic Panel of the Develop Module. Click on the tool or hit the ‘W’ keyboard shortcut and hover over an area of the portrait that should be neutral in color. Try to avoid a BRIGHT white or black area because there is a possibility the color is saturated and might give a false reading. The White Balance Selector will do a great job at automatically adjusting the color temperature and tint, which gives you a nice base to continue to edit from.
Check out my YouTube video on White Balance here.
Tip 2 - Check out the Highlights and Shadows
Take a look at your histogram. Your histogram will show you the distribution of brightness values so that you can spot loss of detail in the highlights or shadows. If your slider is peaking near the left (shadows), then you’ll want to brighten up your image. If the slider is peaking near the right (highlights) you’ll want to bring in some more shadows. You want your photo to end up pretty equal throughout unless you’re going for a super dark, shadowy look or a really bright and airy look.
Tip 3 - Crop
Cropping your portrait is a great way to remove any distracting pieces of background so you can focus on your subject. Your composition for a portrait really matters because you want your subject to stand out and be the main focus. When you look at your image, eliminate any background that doesn’t support your subject or that pulls focus.
Tip 4 - Look at the Skin
This tip is totally optional! Some people don’t like to use the spot removal tool for blemishes to keep a real and raw look to their image. Others like to go for some skin smoothing to even out skin tone and to help keep an image looking clean and polished. Whatever you decide to do, do it with class. You want your subject to know it is them! If your subject has defining features, don’t spot remove them away accidentally! Use any Spot Removal or Adjustment Brush selectively and wisely.
Check out my YouTube video on skin tone here.
Tip 5 - Make the Eyes pop!
Eyes are always a gorgeous feature to make pop in a photo. Making the eyes of your subject pop can be a fun way to add some wow-factor to your portraits-- especially with boudoir when your subject is working that ‘smize’. With your Adjustment Brush selected, select the Iris Enhance option. This Lightroom preset makes a slight increase in exposure, increases the clarity and boosts the saturation to enhance the patterns and colors in the iris. All you’ll need to do is brush the iris to add the effect! Be sure to check the Amount slider when you’ve finished and either back off or increase it until the eyes look improved, finding the balance between natural and obviously edited.
These 5 tips for editing your portraits in Lightroom will make your portraits wow whoever sees them. It’s often these simple, basic things we already do that we skim over without realizing how important they are. Next time you edit a portrait, approach it with fresh eyes and enjoy the process of all the small tweaks that can make a big difference.
So, you’re shooting a client session and it’s amazing. The light is perfect, your subjects are listening to every directive you give and you’re thinking about how you’re so blessed to be living this amazing life you’ve created for yourself. You snap a quick iPhone picture because, how could you not?, and you just want to post a quick little sneak peek because you’re on a high from how the session is unfolding.
You take a look at the picture you took on your phone and your first thought is, ‘okay, so how can I edit this to look like my work while on the go?’. We all have our ‘go-to’ editing apps but there’s always something a little off about it that we feel like we need to start our caption with “had to take an iPhone picture…”. We go back and forth between posting something that isn’t quite on brand and edited how we would usually edit, and then thinking ‘but this session is so good! I just have to post.’ Eventually, you post because you’re so caught up in the moment but by the time the next day rolls around, and especially while you’re editing the RAW images on your desktop version of Lightroom, you’re regretting that IG post.
Presets for the free Adobe Lightroom Mobile App are a great way to keep your editing style consistent with those on-the-fly moments so you feel confident posting the memories you want to share instantly. That is the point of Instagram after all!
Presets are flooding the IG market these days. Bloggers who have made a name for themselves with a particular style of image are all selling presets to wannabe influencers looking for a way to up their Instagram game. But you’re a photographer-- you want presets designed for photographers by photographers who know exactly what they are talking about and what they are doing when they made them.
We are here to help.
Our shop now features a set of Mobile Presets for the photographer who understands the importance of building hype and excitement, without wanting to sacrifice their aesthetic. There is absolutely no subscription required and the Adobe Lightroom Mobile app is free!
The LR Mobile Preset pack features 10 amazing presets to help you curated your feed, edit your dreamy vacation photos, or to share those instant moments you know will speak to your online community. This preset pack includes 8 color presets and 2 black & white presets can be the touch your images needed to be insta-worthy.
The best part of our presets is that all settings are adjustable in the Lightroom mobile app on your device. The presets are completely customizable so you can actually add those unique tweaks that makes your work stand out from the crowd.
Our LR Mobile Presets work best with even light or backlit images and work great with jpg’s, actual iPhone photos and even RAW files if your camera can sync up to your phone. These presets are going to totally transform how you approach and deliver your Instagram photos.
Grab them today in the shop!
If you’re newer to photography, the phrase ‘Depth of Field’ might be new to you. If you look at a photo, you’ll notice the subject of the image is in focus, while parts of the image in front of and behind the subject are all out of focus. The depth of field is the area that is in focus.
Establishing an appropriate depth of field (DoF) will help create visually strong images that aid in telling the story for your client. Creating depth of field in your photographs doesn’t have to be hard and requires 3 main areas for you to keep in mind. The three areas to composing a great DoF are aperture setting, focal length and the distance to your subject.
To keep it short and sweet for you…
Large aperture = Small f-number = Shallow (small) depth of field
Small aperture = Larger f-number = Deeper (larger) depth of field
This is the basics of the aperture settings. The actual settings you select will depend on where you are shooting (remember, aperture also affects how much light you let in which changes how bright your images are), so it’s best to take time to play with different settings to find the one that will work best for your desired look.
The focal length is a measure of your lens’s ability to magnify a scene. Grab a lens that you own and take a look at the two number. The lower number is the lens’s wide-angle mode and the higher number is its telephoto. Basically, the more you magnify your subject, the shallower the depth of field becomes. When shooting with a normal or wide-angle lens, you have a lot of depth of field. If you zoom in to a telephoto magnification, your depth of field will drop dramatically.
Your distance to the subject determines how much depth of field you can get in your scene. If you are photographing a subject that is quite far away, the depth of field will need to be greater so the subject is in focus. Also, when shooting a subject further away, more of the image, in general, will be in focus to accommodate. If your subject is up close, your depth of field will need to be smaller and more precise to ensure your subject is in focus.
To calculate your depth of field, you can use online resources or apps. But, I believe the best way to gain a good understanding on depth of field is to grab your camera and play. Try changing your f/stop and capturing multiple shots with different f/shop number and play with moving closer and further away from your subject. Compare the images and see which ones best match the style you are looking for. It’s only through playing that you can really begin to understand and implement a depth of field that works for you.
How do you use depth of field to create powerful images?
I am always amazed by the incredible talent of our Embrace nation. When I visit the Facebook group and view your work, I am completely moved by images you are creating and I feel honored you use the Embrace presets as ways to bring your ultimate vision to life.
Today I am featuring my favorite photos from this past month. These photos really captured my attention and speak to me in a special way. Take a look at the images and give some love to the talented photographers following their dreams and creative spark to manifest an image that will wow their client and pushes the boundaries of their own creative expression.
Enjoy this month’s selection of photos!
If you’ve been around here for a while, you’re familiar with what we are all about-- creating amazing images that speak to our clients and are full expressions of our creativity as photographers. Presets are one way to create consistent-looking images that are in-line with the vision you have for your work. Presets also help cut down on the time you spend editing, which means you can spend more time behind the lens of your camera photographing your beautiful subjects and less time behind a computer screen.
The Embrace Collection could really be called a signature collection. It’s the perfect collection of presets you’ll need to spark new life into the images you photograph. The Embrace collection includes 10 presets: 7 color and 3 black and white.
If you’re looking to create images in line with golden hues, strong deep tones and whimsical lighting, the Embrace Collection has the perfect preset for you. The seven color presets include Feminine, She, Soulful, Poised, Turn it On, Blissful and Embrace. The three black and white presets are Brave.
This specific collection was put together to be a comprehensive tool kit ready for any and every situation you find yourself photographing. If you’re shooting boudoir indoors, spending time outdoors during golden hour with a high energy family, or spending time with a couple during an intimate wedding in the middle of winter there will be a preset that will enhance your image to the standards your clients have come to know from your work.
If you’ve never tried presets before, the Embrace Collection will be the perfect pack to get you started and leave you wondering why you didn’t try them out sooner. Grab the Embrace Collection in the shop.
Golden hour is that dreamy time when the sun is setting and the sun leaves a gorgeous golden wash over everything it touches. Golden hour is prime time for us photographers and we chase the light to create the images that will turn out to be breath-taking memories for our clients.
Golden hour is amazing, but if you’re new to shooting during the golden hour, it can be a little tricky. The light is much brighter and, when setting, which can create elongated shadows that less harsh than midday but still take your image across a wide variety of light to dark. Your camera settings and how you set up your subject are so crucial to capturing a beautiful image.
I’m sharing my 5 best tips for golden hour photography. Next time you have a session during golden hour, keep these tips in mind and you’ll set yourself up for success.
TIP 1 - Check your sunset time.
You want to make sure you schedule your shoot DURING golden hour-- not too early or not too late. Since sunset times are always changing, use an app to track sunset times. There are many available on the app store depending on your device to find one that works for you. You’ll generally want to schedule a session 2 hours before sunset to make the most of that eretheral golden hour light.
TIP 2 - All about the settings.
First thing’s first-- set your white balance! Next, look at the rest of your camera settings. Your camera settings have a lot to do with how your final images will turn out. The right settings give you enough detailed information in the darker areas to lighten them up, without completely blowing out your brighter spots, while also keeping the temperature in mind.
I usually shoot 1-2 stops underexposed. My shutter speed is always high and ranges between 500-1500 during sunset hours depending on the strength of the light. My usual aperture setting for people is f 2.8. I try to keep my ISO as low as possible, it’s mostly on 100.
TIP 3 - Use a reflector.
A reflector is going to work wonders bouncing the beautiful golden hour light back onto your subject. If you’re shooting with the light behind your subject, use a reflector to bounce light back onto their front. A reflector is a standard tool you should invest in! I keep one in my bag at all times and use it frequently.
TIP 4 - Invest in a great camera.
This tip is a little big of a bigger investment suggestion than a quick tip, but investing in a good camera is going to go a long way when shooting the dramatic light at golden hour. My Sony and Nikon cameras capture so much information in the image that I can manipulate the image in Lightroom after without losing any information. The way these cameras capture the light is outstanding and, if you’re serious about pursuing a career in photography that takes you out into nature, invest.
TIP 5 - Edit with presets designed for golden hour.
Editing your images with my Wanderlust presets are going to give you that ultimate dreamy golden hour look with little amounts of work! Use the right settings and a reflector, pull the image into Lightroom and watch Wanderlust work its magic! Wanderlust is designed specifically for golden hour so if there is one preset you’re thinking of buying, this is it.
These simple tricks for shooting during golden hour are going to give you the upper hand next time you’re out with your clients. Try taking a friend out and playing around with reflectors, settings (including white balance and temperature) and how the light changes as it sets. Once you’re comfortable during golden hour, you’ll be creating the magical photos you always dreamed of photographing for your dedicated clients.
“What’s in your bag?”
This is a question every photographer hears. From new photographers wondering what kind of gear is best to invest in, to seasoned photographers looking for new cameras and gadgets to play with, hearing what is in a photographers bag is always exciting.
Today I’m sharing what’s in my bag! I have a variety of cameras, lenses and tools I’ve accumulated in the last 5 years that I love for a number of different reasons. If you’re a photographer, you know what it’s like to fall in love with the specific look a lens gives, the dreamy feel of one or the crisp look of another. All of these little factors play a part in what’s in my bag.
Let’s take a look…
Sigma 24mm 1.4 ART
Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART
I don’t know what to tell you about these lenses other then they are my two favorites. Since getting the Sigma 35mm I’ve barely taken it off my camera. The Sigma 24mm is my go-to for outdoor shots where I want to capture more landscape and is perfect in tight spots. I wrote a blog post about them in September that talks more about how amazing shows examples of the power of these two lenses. Take a look at the blog and you’ll see why they are amazing!
Nikon 85 1.4
This lens is amazing for ensuring your subject is crisp and clear while the background becomes velvety and smooth. Absolutely perfect for creating stunning boudoir images.
This lens is a ‘good for everything’ lens that is great to take when travelling or when I need to leave some gear behind. It’s great in many situations and is quite versatile. The bokeh isn’t as velvety as other lenses but for a lens that can work for just about everything, the quality it gives is still wonderful.
The Lensbaby Velvet 56
The Lensbaby is new to me and my gear bag so I’m still learning the ins and outs of all the capabilities but I already love the dreamy feel it gives me. The lens gives a soft, glowing effect that gives my images a film-like, organic quality that is oh so gorgeous.
The Zeiss 55mm
This lens is sharp! If you want what you’re shooting to be sharp right to the edge of the frame, this is the lens for you. This kind of lens is great for detail shots where every detail right to the edge is something you want to be captured in perfect crispness.
There are SO MANY reasons I love my Nikon’s! I often underexpose my images and I feel like I get more depth in my shadows when shooting with any of my Nikon’s. I also love the tones they create which, I’ll be honest with you, I don’t actually know that has something to do with Nikon but I really think so! My Nikon’s all produce these beautiful tones that I just can’t get enough of! The Nikon’s also have a really dynamic range which makes them the perfect addition for my bag-- I’m prepared in every situation.
Bear with me as I warn you by saying I am not a technical person. I love my Sony because I feel like it just gives me beautiful colors that I adore!
Bag + Extras
Camera Bag - Kamrette
I’ve tried so many camera bags over the years and this Kamrette bag is the FIRST camera bag that I can say I LOVE. I have the Lyra Backpack, which was a fresh take on their camera hand bag.I would recommend their bags to everyone and highly recommend purchasing one from them if you’re in the market for a bag that’s perfect for travelling!
Strap - The Moneymaker
I LOVE the Moneymaker camera strap because it is so practical! What’s better than having a camera on each side? No wonder it’s called the money maker!
Light - Westcott Ice Light 2
This light is perfect for creating dreamy pools of light over a person I’m photographing-- especially if we are outside and it is getting dark. It’s compact enough to take on the go and gives off consistent light so I know right away exactly how it’s going to look.
Add a little hazy, foggy, dreamy effect to your photos with Aerosol spray. I never know when I might need it so it’s in the camera bag for those moments I think it’ll really enhance an image.
This is a no-brainer! Always handy to have!
A well-stocked camera bag ready for any and every situation means you won’t miss out on opportunities to create the image you envision in your mind. I have learned that it is best to be prepared for any situation I find myself in-- whether I am shooting in the desert or in a studio. I love the gear I use and I’m always on the lookout for new lenses and accessories that can help me along the way.
What is in your bag? Have you tried out any of the lenses, camera bodies or other gear that I love?
Lightroom is the best program you can use for not only editing but for culling, rating and organizing your images. If you’re new to photography, then Lightroom is probably new for you as well. Don’t be discouraged when you first open up the program and it looks overwhelming. Know that soon you’ll be able to use all the tools with ease and you’ll make the most of this incredible program.
Today I am sharing with you my top 5 Lightroom tips for beginners. These are the essentials-- the things you should know before anything else. Take it from me, these were the first few things I learned that really made a difference in how I used Lightroom and I know you’ll find these tips super helpful, too!
Use Lightroom to stay organized.
Lightroom is an amazing tool for organization. When you open up Lightroom, it’s going to ask you where you want images stored. Take this as an opportunity to really organize yourself and your images into a great system that will work for you in the future. Some ideas for organization would be organizing your images by the date of the shoot, by the location or by specific events. If you shoot boudoir, you may want to organize by client name, then date. If you’re into nature photography, location and date might be helpful. Pick a system that will make the most sense for you.
The ‘Basic’ tab is your best friend.
The ‘Basic’ tab is where a lot of great edits can be made. This basic tab is just that-- the basics! The sliders located in the basic tab have the ability to really bring your image to life and I recommend opening up an image and just going through each slider to see what it does. From temperature and tint, to blacks, whites, shadows, dehazing, saturation, contrast and more, the basic panel provides you what you need to make an image look as true to life as possible.
Cull your images with star ratings
When you’re going through all of your images in Lightroom, use the following keyboard shortcuts to star your images to rate the ones you like the most and the ones you’d rather not spend time editing. Simply press 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 on your keyboard to give the image the equivalent star rating.
Lightroom can look confusing and overwhelming-- especially when everything is so new and every panel seems like a good option! Bring up the Basic panel then use develop module in Solo mode to help you focus on one editing panel at a time instead of having them all open. This will help you really get the most out of each panel you’re working with without feeling the pressure to play with everything else in Lightroom.
When you import a session, you may find that you’re making the same adjustments over and over again for each image. The best way to be efficient in Lightroom is to save these consistent adjustments as a preset. When you save the preset, be detailed with your description. For example, if your images were taken on a cloudy day (which would give off more blue tones) in a studio, then a great name for a preset could be as simple as “cloudy afternoon studio”. Then, the next time you are editing photos that were taken on a cloudy afternoon in your studio, you can apply the preset and save yourself time.
These five simple tips can really help you make the most of Lightroom. They will also help you learn to use Lightroom efficiently to really make the most out of the time you spend editing. Give these tips a try and let me know what you think! Are they helpful for you as a new photographer just beginning to understand the capabilities of Lightroom? Share your answer below.
Do you want to play around with presets? I have presets available in the shop! Take a look and purchase a set that you think would help bring your images to life.
I am so excited to announce the winners of the the best of 2018! I just want to quickly say thank you for all of you who entered! It was so incredible to see all your beautiful work and you did not make it easy for Jacqueline to decide the winners.
First Place Winner
Poppy loves to focus on street style portraits and fashion portraits. She is based in Auckland.
Find her website here
Why Jacqueline chose Poppy's photo
I love the contrast between power and softness, heightened stature and quiet elegance, and light and shadow.
I love the way there is sunlight and clouds, and the way the light shines and expose one side of her face and the way the clouds are a powerful backdrop behind her. It's a very strong image and meets my expectation when I judge competitions: it punches me in the gut right off the bat and takes my breath away!
Poppy is the winner of the $250 gift card from the store of her choosing!
Second Runner Up
Sabrina Johnson Photography
Sabrina does wedding photography to family photography and everything in between. Sabrina is based out North Bay Ontario, Canada.
Website can be found here
Instagram can be found here
Why Jacqueline chose Sabrina's photo
I really love the emotion in this wedding image...I can almost feel what they are feeling and that is a hard thing to photograph Even though they are posed, everything feels and reads in such a genuine way. KUDOS to the photographer!
Sabrina is the winner of a $50 B&H photo video gift card!
Third Runner Up
Maverick Organic Art Co.
Sarah Elizabeth specializes in family, maternity and birth photography. She is a lover of light, love and stories of women. Sarah is based out of Dallas, Texas.
Website can be found here
Instagram can be found here
Why Jacqueline chose Sarah's photo
The child's gaze s what really draws me in and even though this is an extremely tight crop, I still get a ton of information in the young child's eye, the embrace and in the expression on the mom's face. Even though we don't see her full face, we see everything we need to see to get the feeling and emotion of the image coming through.
Sarah is the winner of a $50 B&H photo video gift card!
A huge thank you to Jacqueline Tobin for volunteering her time to judge this contest! You can find Range Finder Magazine here.
Thank you again for entering and I can not wait to see what 2019 brings!
Give yourself the gift of moody edits and muted colors this holiday season with The Wanderlust Collection.
I spent so long trying to perfect this look that brings out the best parts of golden hour-- muted tones including muted greens, softened colors and gorgeous skin tones. Achieving this look can be difficult, so I created The Wanderlust Collection to make your life easier and your edits magical.
The Wanderlust Collection comes wth 14 color presets, 3 black and white presents and 3 practical tools to make editing a breeze!
Use The Wanderlust Collection for images of outdoor adventures while you capture the magic of weddings, the intimacy of couples or the carefree expression of families.
Here are some examples from photographers just like you who have used The Wanderlust Collection to create images that pop and make their clients fall in love with their images.