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How do professionals edit photos?

With the new DSLR cameras, anyone can feel like a professional when they look through the lens. You need more than just a good camera before you start shooting weddings or graduation pictures and selling your work to others. The most important thing that you need is editing software.

Professionals can charge hundreds of dollars for a shoot because they provide clients with editing pictures that include both prints and digital copies. They use editing tools that help them make their clients look their best and software suites that help them make all the changes they need. I’ll go over how they edit their work and how you can edit like a professional in the following article.

The Best Editing Tools for Professionals

When you look at the best editing tools for professionals, it’s impossible to not mention Photoshop. Available from Adobe, this is the most popular editing software suite. It allows users to manipulate images through tools that blur or sharpen the photograph and other tools that change the contrast and colors. Photoshop allows you to add layers to the image and edit and save each layer.

Another popular tool is Lightroom, which you can use by itself or with Photoshop. Lightroom works with both RAW and JPEG formats and can work with other photo formats too. I highly recommend this tool for those who shoot lots of photos and want to organize them because it comes with quite a bit of cloud storage.

PhaseOne is another tool that some photographers now use. Though it is similar to Lightroom, it has a nice feature that will save the edits that you make as new files and retain the original photos that you took. This tool can also help you organize the thousands of images that you take.

Ways Professionals Edit Photos

Professionals use different methods to edit their work to make sure that they save copies for their portfolios as well as for their clients. Most use layers that they place on the original images first. I’ll walk you through the steps that professional photographers use that you can also use.

Start with Layers

Most of the photo editing software suites come with an option to use layers as you edit. Professionals place one layer on top of the original image and edit that work. Each time that they make any other changes, they add a new layer on top of the photo.

This is helpful because it lets them save all of their work. If they make a mistake, they can delete the most recent layer and go back to a previous layer. Any of the edits they do only affect the layer and not the original image.

White Balance

Professionals will then use tools to adjust the white balance of the image, which can significantly change the ratio of dark to light spots. They start with a temperature change to adjust the red and blue tint in a photo. Changing the temperature to a lower setting will remove any warm red tones in the image while increasing the temperature will remove the cool blue tones in the photo.

Adjusting the white balance will also change the amount of green and magenta shades in an image. Most programs have a slider that you click on and move from the right to the left. Moving the slider in either direction will increase the amount of green and magenta shades in the photo.

Noise Levels

Photographers use the term noise level to describe the graininess of an image. If a photographer says that an image has too much noise, it means that it is grainy. They can use the Curves setting of an editing tool to reduce the noise level.

It takes a precise hand to adjust the noise level because it works with the sharpen tool. If you sharpen the image too much in an attempt to reduce the noise level, you risk the image looking grainier than it did before. Professionals often experiment with this tool multiple times before saving their work.

Saturation and Hue Levels

Professional photographers also adjust the saturation and hue levels in an image. Shades of blue and green work together, which means that adjusting the amount of blue in a photo will also change the green shades. You typically want to look at the main color in your image and focus on adjusting that shade and any associated shades.

With most programs, you will see both hue and saturation listed with a slider bar below. This bar shows different colors or shades too. You just need to move the slider in one direction or the other to adjust the levels.

Other Adjustments

Photoshop and all the other popular editing tools used by professionals come with other options for editing images too. Those tools can handle different tasks, including:

  • Hiding the bags under the eyes of subjects
  • Removing the red spots from subjects’ eyes
  • Fading the uneven or strange edges from an image
  • Patching together different parts of an image to hide objects
  • Cutting portions from one photo to insert it into another
  • Making minuscule adjustments to small areas
  • Sharpening specific areas of a photo

Tips for Taking Photos Like a Pro

When you know how to take photos like a pro, you can spend more time taking pictures and less time editing your work. Some of the tips I recommend include:

  • Use a tripod to make sure your photographs are even and level
  • Make use of the natural light around you
  • Focus in on a specific subject or object
  • Set the contrast on your camera to a good level
  • Shoot in the RAW format

Become an Editing Pro

With the right editing tools, you can create crisp and interesting photographs that will appeal to clients and help you build a customer base. Those tools are the same that professionals use when they edit their work. You can use these tips and tools to make every image you take look amazing.