Top 3 Editing Tips For The New Photographer

Oh editing.  If you recently picked up a camera or just started shooting in manual mode, editing is probably the LAST thing on your mind.  However, you have taken these beautiful photos of your children, your dog, your house, whatever it may be, and you realize there are some issues that need attention.  They may be a little blue or darker than you had hoped for - but where do you go from here?

Editing tips to help new photographers improve their editing, Lightroom tips and tricks, Learn photography

Enter Lightroom and Photoshop.  I don't know about you, but this is the part where I really felt I was losing my mind.  When I first started editing I was vaguely familiar with Photoshop.  I had used in the past for very minimal editing and we covered some of the basics in school.  Then I opened Lightroom and I was at a COMPLETE loss.

Lightroom and Photoshop are arguably two of the best editing programs available.  They are incredibly well known and used and for good reason!  These two programs can do really powerful things for your photography; however, they can also prove to be incredibly daunting in the beginning.  

In all honesty, I could write an entire blog series on both Lightroom and Photoshop individually and barely scratch the surface of what these two programs are capable of.  But I have had a lot of questions recently in regards to editing so I thought it would be helpful to share my top three tips to simplify the editing process for beginners!

1) Make the decision between JPEG/RAW

As icky of advice as I know this is, one of the best things you can do for yourself as a new user of a DSLR is to pick up your camera manual.  Yea, I know.  Not exactly exciting evening reading material.  While reviewing your manual can be a little of a time investment, it can also save you HOURS of frustration down the road.  One thing you should definitely familiarize yourself is the image-recording quality.  I honestly can't even tell you how long I was shooting in manual mode without having the slightest CLUE about how important this setting was.  

Depending on your DSLR, there may be several different options available for JPEG and RAW.  For me personally, I started shooting with JPEG L and now shooting RAW.  Depending on where you are in your journey to using a DSLR and shooting in manual mode, you may consider starting in JPEG as well and then making the switch to RAW.  

For the sake of this post, JPEG files have been processed by your camera, are easily opened in almost any photography program on the market and is immediately suitable for saving/printing with or without any additional editing.  RAW files have not yet been compressed and require a special software to open/view.  They will require post production and compression to JPEG.  

2) Familiarize yourself with your software

Whether you are using Adobe Camera Raw/Photoshop/Lightroom or even a free software such as Pixlr, it is important to know what you're using.  It will take some time to fully understand your editing software; however, if you are going to dive into editing you should at least have a thorough understanding of the basics.  

Exposure
White Balance
Saturation
Contrast
Shadows/Highlights
Crop/Angle adjustment
B&W Conversion

These are just a FEW of the basic areas of editing you should start with, especially if you have made the leap to shooting RAW.  I personally do 95% of my edits in Lightroom, save and re-open in Photoshop for just some minor final touches as needed.  This workflow works well for me and saves me HOURS of time as I edit a large quantity of images at once!

To learn more about Lightroom, I would highly recommend investing in a quality and reliable resource.  There are a lot of free articles available online that do provide some basic tutorials/insight into both Lightroom and Photoshop, but it may be more valuable to invest in one resource where you can obtain all of your information in an easy to understand format.  

I personally loved Tony Northrup's books as a beginner and found it really helpful that he includes video tutorials with each book!  You can find his Adobe Lightroom 6 / CC Video Book on Amazon.

3) Skip the presets

As a new photographer, you are often bombarded by these things called "presets" or "actions."  To start, I want to say I have nothing against Presets, I actually use one myself just to base my editing from, and then it is greatly tweaked to make my editing style my own.  However, as a new photographer - you should stay away from presets as much as possible.  Learn to edit by starting with the basics, and staying CONSISTENT.  Find a style that works well for you and grow from there.  I have been in business for over a year, and I have been shooting and editing for almost three years.  I have just RECENTLY found an editing style that I love and that feels "me."  It takes time to grow into your own with editing.

On the other hand, I truly believe if I had focused some of my education on editing, it would not have taken me nearly as long as it has to get where I am today.  There are some wonderful editing education courses available for new photographers.  You can also join Photography Facebook groups and get some peer-to-peer feedback on your editing to help you stay on track.  I would love to have you in my group Camera's and Coffee where mom's can openly share their latest work, their struggles and their successes!