What You Need To Think About When Using Photoshop to Enhance Your Portraits

  • Date: November 6th, 2017
  • Author: admin

Photoshop is an essential tool for any photographer. Whether you’re just getting started or are a seasoned professional photographer, knowing how to edit your photos correctly is invaluable.

While cameras today provide functionality in knowing how to capture the right exposure, colors, and even light, you can still enhance all of these elements with Photoshop. Knowing which areas of the portrait you want to frame and prioritize is crucial in enhancing your photos.

While there are different ideas on workflow when it comes to shooting for Photoshop to enhance a portrait, here are the main things to remember.

Always shoot with RAW

Before any photo is ready for editing in Photoshop, it must be formatted to the highest level of quality to provide room for editing. As such, it is important to shoot in RAW.

An image file format, RAW captures all image data recorded by your camera’s sensor. Unlike JPEG which requires image information to be compressed, RAW does not require data compression. This produces higher quality images as well as provide a platform to correct problem images.

RAW also provides greater levels of brightness, exposure, detail, and white balance. When editing images on Photoshop shot on RAW, no image information is lost. This allows necessary adjustments to be made without compromising image quality.

Exploit Composition

Developing a sense of visual awareness when shooting images will enable you to easily manipulate the flow, direction, and energy of your photos in Photoshop.

The right composition can make your portrait appear more beautiful or even make a bland subject interesting. Using composition fundamentals such as the rule of thirds, scale, and hierarchy, balance and point of view make images translate easier onto Photoshop.

Knowing the composition fundamentals makes digital photo manipulation easier. Particularly if your portrait shots require compositing; the practice of layering numerous images to make a composite photo.

Draw focus to the face

When photographing subjects, particularly moving subjects during scenarios such as a wedding, it may be difficult to perfectly capture the right white balance and lighting. Luckily, Photoshop can make the necessary adjustments.

When shooting portraits, it’s important that the main subject of the image is the face. Generally speaking, the face is the most interesting part of any portrait. Viewers are naturally drawn to faces, so it’s best that every portrait enhances its features.

If your portraits are shot under natural lighting, Photoshop editing can serve as an artificial light; darkening the background and sharpening the focus to illuminate the subject. Curves Adjustment Layers is one of the best Photoshop features to boost highlights and shadows of an image.

Understand exposure

One of the most important fundamentals of portrait photography is exposure. This includes white balance and using the right amount of light. On the camera, exposure is controlled by aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.

On Photoshop it’s a variety of tools; exposure, recovery, brightness, temperature (to adjust white balance), and Unsharp Mask (to sharpen an image), among others. All these features play a role in defining your portrait shot, but what’s important is how and where your image is brightened.

It’s best to focus on the eyes, as the eyes are often the focal point of any portrait. Photoshop features many tools to provide different methods of retouching that can make eyes truly come alive.

Utilize complementary tools

Working with the RAW file format will allow photographers to process their images in Photoshop to create spectacular portraits. But not every element of Photoshop is necessary to improve your images. The list below is some of the more frequently used tools in Photoshop that many photographers will come across during portrait photography.

  • Dodge & Burn: An important part of any post-processing workflow, dodge and burn are old darkroom techniques that have been digitized into Photoshop and many other photo editing software. Dodge and burn enable the photographer to manipulate the duration of exposure of selected areas on an image.
  • Spot Healing: Spot Healing and the Healing Brush itself allows photographers to retouch away small issues on photographs. This could be specks of dust, blemishes on the skin, or unwanted stray hairs. It is advisable that Spot Healing is not used for bags under eyes. Frequency separation is the best tool for that.
  • Frequency Separation: A tool to fix mismatched skin, frequency separation manipulates image data according to their different frequencies. High frequencies will contain information on skin pores and imperfections such as acne or scars. Low frequencies are image data that contains tone, volume, color. This includes, but not limited to shadows and light and skin tones.

These three tools are essential to any processing workflow. There are many others that could be utilized depending on their image requirements, but most photographers will do well to master these tools for their portrait photos.

Photoshop is a versatile editing software that can be utilized according to the demands of the photographer. The local corrections Photoshop affords photographers ensures every selective shot features better contrast, strong colors, and healthy color balance.

Linda Pasfield is best known for her skill to capture emotion on film and expression in an art form. Linda has had 20 years of experience photographing weddings, portraiture and documentary. She is an award winning photographer and Linda’s career has taken her worldwide, photographing for Olim Aid International, Worship Centre and Cross Rds, and numerous other organisations. Photography is Linda’s passion and “capturing the true feelings on the day, blending creativity and lighting in the right way is a joy.”