Behind the Scenes “How I Edit Portraits” Tutorial

Hey everyone!

I’ve been asked many times how I edit portraits, specifically up-close portraits. Let’s face it, no one has absolutely perfect skin, we all have blemishes that we would rather not expose to the world. ;)
Even models have HOURS of work and editing behind their good looks, perfect tans, lack of blemishes, and ideal makeup.
We all love to look a little bit better.

Today I am revealing a few of my editing secrets to show you all! Welcome to my workshop and behind the scenes of Danica Clark Photography! :)

Now, before I get into this, I will warn you, to get a full effect of this editing of blemishes, I took my picture WITHOUT makeup and without brushing my hair. (Prepare yourself, it IS kind of scary!) ;)
I also shot this picture a little underexposed to make every bump, lump, scar, and red spot more visible. Normally, I would shoot it a bit lower to bring in more light, so you may NOT have to brighten your subjects as much as I do.

SO, without further ado, here’s my tutorial of “How I Edit Portraits”:

To start with, here’s a Before and After:

Before you edit the exposure, color, white balance, or anything, I strongly suggest you work on facial edits first.

1- Open RAW image in Lightroom, and zoom into the subject’s face.

2- Spot Cleaning
Start with basic spot cleaning on any rough or obvious blemishes on face. I also do spot cleaning on “Heal” NOT “Clone”.

3- Soften Skin
Normally I DO lighten up the skin a smidgen too. I run a second layer over the skin on the darker and rougher spots

4- Sharpen Eyes
I love a good shot with SHARP eyes. (Truly, the secret to a good portrait is SHARP eyes!)
I sharpen and lighten the eyes up a bit. It really makes a huge difference.

5- Burn Eyes
Every woman especially loves bright eyes, a burn over the eyelashes, and shadowing the surrounding creases around the eyes helps bring out the eye. It deepens the eye, and makes a sharper contrast between the whites of the eye, and the eye socket.
Generally I just darken around the entire eye, sometimes I even darken the eyelashes to bring them out more.

6- Enhance the Irises
I admit, I lightened the iris a little more than usual, because I underexposed this picture (as I mentioned before). One of my favorite things to do to the iris, besides lighten and sharpen it a little more, is add a bit of color. Not too much, because it will look too fake. But just enough to bring out some pretty color!

7- Burn the Pupils and Whitening the Whites
(Whitening the whites is a little self explanatory so I don’t have a screen capture for that)
Burning the pupils is important to me, because after enhancing the irises you have a bright iris, and by darkening the pupil and around the iris you bring out the eye more. I find it adds more depth to the eye brings out the eye making it more inviting to stare into. (That sounds creepy, I know, but try it and find out for yourself!)

8 – Edit colors… etc.
NOW you can do your own editing of the colors, white balance, exposure… etc. And admire the finished product of your image! :)

That’s all I have for you today, guys! :) Hope that helps you in your post production work.
Now, open Lightroom, find an awesome portrait to edit, and enjoy! :D

Thanks for reading, hope you have a fantastic week.

One Response to “Behind the Scenes “How I Edit Portraits” Tutorial”
  1. Dianne says:

    Thanks for sharing, Danica!! Great tips. :-)

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