Using Photoshop is one of my most time consuming activities. I have found Photoshop to be a fairly important skill in developing a portrait business, and one year in, I barely feel as though I have scratched the surface. Still, I am improving steadily, which is an encouragement to me. One thing I have encountered though is a pretty significant misunderstanding about what Photoshop does for photography. Some swear by Photoshop( or Lightroom) and others consider it a form of cheating or magic wand use. As I see it, even the best photographers use it. I don’t see it as cheating even though some people will use it wrongly…such as tabloids. However, what I am talking about is proper use. In conversations with some, I have discovered that many people think Photoshop can make a terrible picture incredible. Not true. Photoshop is an enhancement tool. A photograph still needs to be techincally good coming SOOC (straight out of camera). Exposure, composition, and lighting are foundational. Sometimes though, a photo needs to have a few distractions removed that no amount of exposing, composing, or lighting can repair. If you ever photograph children you know what I mean… think boo boos, chapped lips, dark circles under the eyes, and ahem…nasal issues. While the goal is ALWAYS taking the best photo possible using proper settings, you do have the expectation to fix the little distractions. I have no problem here. Here is an example from a recent shoot.

All in all this is good.  However, there are some things that distract me.   Almost every portrait I take has a subject with dark circles which make the face look tired.  These are pretty subtle.   The other main distraction to me is the color reflection on the face from the blue shirt.  You can see it best on his chin.  There are a few skin areas on the face that really are no big deal, but I like to smooth the skin a bit if my camera picks them up.

As you can see, this image is not very different.  Just a few clean-ups are present, and a little more color pops.  That’s it.  This picture is not magically changed from bad to good.   Is it better though? I think so. I’m also going for a little injection of mood. Some will like effects and others not.   Using the tool of Photoshop does not make me lazy with my camera.  Take great pictures…and polish…that’s the idea.



  1. Love this edit!

    Do you use actions, or edit yourself?

    • kimmyskids says:

      I find both helpful for certain things. The facial work is done by me, and any coloring might be an action.

  2. What tool do you usually use when editing the face?

    • kimmyskids says:

      Healing brush for face, patch tool is good for under eye darkness and filter>noise>median for chapped lips, which he did not have, but frequently kids do.

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