Y’all a professional photographer I am not. I don’t shoot in manual. I don’t have the best lens. I make a ton of amateur mistakes. But I’ve worked alongside some pretty incredible photographers over the years in my old marketing profession, and picked up even more tips from photographer friends that have served me well. I still may not get the right angle and I might miss the golden hour. But one thing I can do like a champ? Edit.
Editing photos is not for the faint of heart. Sure, there are some apps out there that make it really easy. VSCO is one that I’ve played with and enjoy. Snapseed and Instagram too. And as much as I love The Gram, a filter doesn’t provide the same high-level editing that I like my pictures to have, so a few years ago I turned to Lightroom and have never looked back.
One thing I love about Lightroom is its mobile version. So whether I am shooting with my phone or my DSLR, I can edit both through the program without having to transfer iPhone pics to my computer.
I use Lightroom Classic which is pretty user friendly and intuitive. When I first purchased the program (there is a free version with limited capability if you want to play before you buy), I watched a few YouTube tutorials to help me get the hang of it. There are also presets you can purchase from any number of companies (VSCO and Jillian Harris both sell them) to do the editing for you. But I prefer to edit my own photos individually to get the look I’m after: lots of light, warmth, white space.
I also love to shoot in natural light (I NEVER use my flash) and find that photo editing is an excellent way to pull light back into the photo by playing with exposure, highlights, and white balance in Lightroom. I sometimes get a little exposure happy, and have to be mindful about not overexposing my photos during the editing process. I’m getting better. . .
I have also become more interested in food photography after beginning my Arbonne business and find that food looks much more appealing post-edit. If you’ve ever found yourself saying “it tastes better than it looks” I’d encourage you to consider food editing! I love to play with vibrance and saturation to make food photos pop. I also lift the blacks (shadows) in the picture and increase the whites.
I’ll sometimes whitewash photos too depending on what look I’m going for. A great example is the picture I took last week of my Arbonne lavender protein shake. I wanted the photo to be less about the details of my background kitchen and more about what was in the foreground, so I increased the whites and highlights big time and eliminated all the shadows. Much of this comes down to personal preference and the more you practice, the better you’ll get at figuring out your editing style.
When I shoot outside, light can be harsh. If I have my good camera, I always shoot in RAW. The quality is always so much higher because none of my photo information is compressed, so there’s more ability to edit afterwards. When I edit photos I’ve taken outside (whether by camera or phone), I often bring in color—specifically warmer tones—to make the colors pop. I like to lift the shadows and bring down the highlights to make the photo feel really alive (and toning down highlights will bring out details in the sky or a sunrise which I love).
I know that not everyone feels the need to edit photos. The best memories are branded in my memory, and the second best are in a picture somewhere. I just happen to believe that a great looking photo can enhance the memory in the mind’s eye. All photo editing programs and apps take some getting used to—there’s a learning curve for each one—but practice makes progress and most of my best photos are now edited in under a minute. So, play with Lightroom or VSCO or Snapseed or Photoshop and have fun making your pictures memory worthy!