Bottom title

6 Tips for Photo Editing for Beginners

Example photo - final product

About Photography Editing

Learning about photography, whether you are a beginner or have an emphasis in photography, is an endless yet exciting effort. There is always something new to learn or improve upon, but one of the first steps is learning about basic photo editing. The process of editing can quickly turn into a complex skill from whitening teeth to changing the background to adding a vortex of shapes. Yet, there remain a few solid components where all great edits begin and are available on almost all basic photo editing software.

Raw vs JPEG Editing

A quick note before we begin- if it is an option, you will want to try and shoot in raw, compared to jpeg. A raw file allows more access to editing capabilities because when you shoot with jpeg your camera automatically processes the photo which can cause the loss of some of the quality. While a raw photo is just that, an untouched image just waiting to be edited.

Photo Editing Tips for Beginners

Example photo - original

We will use the original photo above to demonstrate the following photo edit settings.

1. Crop and Straighten

Example photo - crop and straighten

When you take a photo, you are focusing on all of your basic photography tips, like trying to get the correct f-stop, making sure the subject’s hands are not doing something odd, or if you are my dad, just finding the capture button on my iPhone; therefore, it can be difficult to perfectly align the image. And that is where the cropping tool comes in, or should I say “cuts out.” You can use the crop and straighten function to trim that awkward extra space above a person’s head or to straighten that tilted photo.

2. Exposure and Contrast

Example photo - exposure and contrast

From Instagram to Adobe, exposure and contrast are a common option in your photo editing settings to give your photo that little extra, but significant, improvement. The photo exposure editor tool will adjust the overall brightness of the photo. For example, you can either increase or decrease the brightness to offset the under or overexposure, while the contrast photo editor tool will adjust the strength of light intensity between elements to either heighten or soften the difference. The simple action of brightening a darker photo or softening tonal lines can greatly impact the quality of the photo.

3. White Balance

Example photo - white balance

The next tool to learn about photography editing is white balance, which is modifying the color levels. If you are going for a natural look, you want the whites of the photo to look normal, right? Therefore you can adjust the white balance, also called the temperature or tint, so that color white is perceived as reality white. This is a great fix for those frustrating orange-yellow tinted images that seem to sneak into your camera roll.

4. Saturation and Vibrance

Example photo - vibrance and saturation

Need that little extra ‘oomf’? That is why photo editing settings have these two tools. Adjusting saturation and vibrance works to refine the intensity of colors. While they are similar, saturation focuses on the entire frame while vibrance focuses on more neutral colors. These are powerful tools and just a little adjustment can make a huge difference, and give you that oomf you want.

5. Sharpness

Example photo - sharpness

Want to make those eyes stand out more? Or enhance the features of your food photography? The sharpening tool enhances details by defining their edges. Importantly, the sharpening tool can also be used in the other direction to soften the features, such as reducing wrinkles in a portrait. The sharpening tool is another basic photo editor tool with powerful capabilities.

6. And Repeat

Example photo - final product

The best way to learn how to edit your pictures is to keep going back and readjusting the tools. They each play off each other so as you change one, you may notice that another should be adjusted in response.

Learning about photography editing is a repetitive process, but it is one with exciting results! There is no right or wrong way to do it, you just keep working at it until you create a photo that portrays what you are imagining. And, these basic editing tips for beginners will greatly help!