May 12, 2014

Photog Tip | Natural Lightroom Edit & Portrait Tips


If you have read my blog for any length of time, or have seen my images you know I’m a natural light photographer. What you may also know (or maybe not) is that I am also a minimalist editor. I discussed my reasons why & now I am going to show you how I achieve them.

We’ve all seen the over editing done to skin, eyes, and teeth. Maybe that’s your cup of tea but I want to guarantee you that 5 years from now, when you reflect on your old work, you will wince. I went through this phase.. The phase where I smoothed under the eyes, enhanced the whites and iris’s, or maybe smoothed out the pores a bit. It didn’t last long & it wasn’t extreme but I still wince.

So here I am to remind you that less is more. If a client has all their exterior features taken away what is left? Not the individual you began with but a 2.0 version. Skin and pours are tricky, iris’s can naturally be enhanced and I’m excited to share some tips and tricks on how I acquire these.

Part 1. Natural Looking Skin Edit

As a lady who goes through the normal hormonal breakouts I get it. I get getting rid of the blemish on the forehead & as I’ve stated before.. Getting rid of things that aren’t supposed to be there is okay! 
Using the Lightroom clone tool/magical brush tool you can easily achieve getting rid of blemishes in less then 10 seconds.

| Just to clarify. I am using baby Kennzi as an example. 
HOWEVER, I adore baby flaky skin so this is just for demonstration. | 

Sometimes it gets a little tricky and that’s where Photoshop Elements is a little easier to work with. I have yet to master the spot removal tool in Lightroom for highly detailed areas. So unless you want your clients to have weird looking fingers…Use Photoshop.

If there was a blemish or another issue in say a crease of the mouth I would import into Photoshop and utilize the clone or healing brush for a more precise fix. 

A natural looking skin smooth is very important to keeping your clients looking natural. If I were to skin smooth I would definitely utilize Paint The Moons baby soft skin action. When doing anything with skin smoothing your opacity is key. Lower that opacity down, baby. I would say 30% or less is a very safe natural looking zone. Yay pores!

Wow.. This is terrifying. 

Now not everyone has PTM’s action. But a natural looking edit that enhances features naturally has a lot to do with the exposure triangle. Making sure your images are properly exposed produce images that hardly need any editing.

Did I really share an SOOC on my blog? Yes I did. The image on the left has had no editing done to it & I will admit it’s about 2 clicks underexposed or if your on a PC then 3 or 4 (although I’m going to blame that on myself since I convinced my momma to shoot my photos). But working with the light creates flattering shadows to the face that don’t need extensive editing. 

Part 2. Four Tips to Enhance Features Naturally

Being a minimalist editor I am ALL about nailing as much in camera as I possibly can. This takes practice as you have to nail your settings according to the lighting situation. So here are my top four tips to naturally enhance your clients features.
1. Use open shade. I have discussed this before and it’s importance. Open shade (think anything like a tree or building) will create an even fill of light and create no harsh shadows which then would increase time spent editing.

By placing your client on the edge of the shade (the balance between shade and harsh sunlight) this will create light to bounce up onto the face without squinting. I almost always use open shade when possible. It gives such a beautiful luminescence to your clients face.

The image on the left? The sun was behind me. Little Miss N was under a overhang so the light was bouncing onto the brick ground and up onto her face. With the image on the right? There was a white concrete building with windows to her right with the sun behind her. The light was bouncing from the building onto her face. Both lighting situation created a warm, even, diffused light but also gave my images dimension and depth. 
2. Wear a light color/white. Why? It acts as a natural reflector. If you are wearing light the light will bounce off of you and onto your subjects face whereas wearing black will only absorb the light. 
3. Use natural reflectors. How about a white sidewalk? Or a white building? This pairs up with number two but think about your surrounds. If you are in a forest your images are going to cast a green shadow. Or how about near red brick? Your clients are ultimately going to carry whatever colors surround them. This is help you nail your white balance. I remember one of my first senior sessions. Our first location was among what felt like a forest and I remember feeling very discouraged that I had no idea what I was doing. Alas, we ended the session with white sand and it produced some of my favorite portraits yet.

4. Learn your histogram. This is a huge help when exposing images. Especially since the image displayed on your LCD screen will vary to your computer. Using your histogram verses the LCD will only help you in the long run. 

Wowza.. Are you still with me?! I hope this was helpful and will give you a little insight on how to naturally enhance your clients features WITHOUT spending oodles of time in Photoshop.
Happy shooting!