How to edit your photos (according to these professionals)

There are millions of ways to start editing your photos. Which can be confusing and challenging if you are just starting out. Or have a serious case of editing block.

For that reason, I asked a couple of my friends to explain how they go about editing their photos. I think it’s a great way to get inspired into editing your own photos. Or maybe even experimenting with your own way of doing things. So let’s dive in!

Celebrating what’s already there – Willow Paule Photography

I went to fine arts school right when digital photography was becoming the norm. Luckily, I got to learn film and digital processing. After school, I found that my true interest lay in documentary photography, and, as such, I keep my photo editing simple.

First, I cull my photographs using a program called Photo Mechanic. I love that I don’t have to import all my images to the program; rather, it allows me to preview and sort them quickly. Once I’ve decided which images I’d like to move forward with, I usually import and batch edit them in Lightroom.

I adjust overall exposure first. Then, depending on the lighting conditions when I took the photo, I slightly adjust the tone curve into a gentle S to get the contrast I desire. When I am editing a series of images from the same event, I love that I can adjust one to my liking, and then apply those changes to all, only making subtle individual changes afterward.

If I want to remove trash from the ground or a blemish on someone’s face (I rarely do, though), I prefer to use PhotoShop because I can make more sensitive changes that look natural.

How we edit photos at Traveling with Sunscreen

I haven’t done much photo editing in the past, but on recent trips I’ve realized how much better I can make my photos look with just some simple edits. On our trip to Asia last summer, a little editing made even my iPhone pictures look totally alright.

I mainly use the app Snapseed to do my edits – it’s made by Google and is free. The editor built into Google Photos is also fairly good and can do a lot of the same things as Snapseed. Both Snapseed and Google Photos have a variety of pre-made filters that you can apply to your photos, many of which radically change how the photo looks. I generally don’t use these, as most of them create quite unrealistic images. When I edit photos I want them to still look basically the same – just a little better. I’ve found that I can usually achieve this by adjusting the contrast, exposure, saturation, and other basic image parameters to make my photos a little more vibrant.

An example is this photo that I took in 2018 in Paraty, Brazil. It was a nice scene, but the color of the water was pretty similar to the color of the sky, and the two sort of blended together in a drab way. But upping the contrast, saturation, and sharpness brought out the texture of the water and sky, and more strongly differentiated them from the mountains in the background. These edits only took a few seconds and made the photo quite a bit more interesting — at least I think so!

DALIBRO’s approach to editing landscape photos

Editing photos has become almost a must not only for photographers but for travel bloggers, too. From hobbyists to professional influencers. 

I’m someone who is quite liberal when it comes to editing my own photography. Although I usually aim to achieve a natural look, I don’t mind a little extra help from Lightroom or Photoshop. White balance, contrast, colours, sharpness, focus-stacking or exposure blending — I’m happy to use any of these tools and techniques! And do you know which tool is the most powerful one? The simplest one — cropping tool!

What I care about the most when editing is to transfer what I felt on the location. In fact, nothing else matters. A simple minimalist edit can often serve the purpose the same way as some super dark-arts editing technique.

What I strictly avoid is adding in tiny people to places. Especially to places where they have nothing to do (like doing a yoga pose on the very edge of a massive cliff, or on top of protected structures). I’d also discourage from stretching mountains to make them appear higher. Such editing techniques simply feel dishonest and fake.

Never Try to Make a Bad Photo Good and Other Editing Tips from Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel

My first rule with editing photos is not to try to make a “silk purse out of a sow’s ear,” as the old saying goes. For those of you who don’t know that expression, it simply means I have to start with a good photo; I never try to make a poor photo good enough to publish. My second rule is to make sure the final photo actually looks like the scene I shot. I’m not a fan of over processed photos, or HDR photos that make the shots look like lithographs.

Having said that, however, digital photography does have some limitations. The biggest of these is that the high highs (whites) and low lows (blacks) cannot (yet) be captured in the same image. To solve that, I meter for a medium exposure and then recapture the details in blown-out or blocked up areas of the image in post processing. Secondly, I always shoot with available light rather than relying on flash, which flattens colors and depth. As a result, I am often shooting at high ISO, which adds noise to the image, so I almost always use a filter to remove the noise, such as these sunset photos I took at Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar. Finally, because most of my images are used on the Internet, I always crop the image to the exact size it will be displayed. This speeds up site load and helps with search engine optimization (SEO).
I shoot RAW images with a FujiFilm X-H1, so I open the images initially with Capture One or Topaz Filters, then complete the finer details in Photoshop. My editing sequence is: 1) DeNoise, 2) Adjust exposure, 3) Crop and save with a file name that describes the image, including the place name.

At Lifestyle Crossroads on Photo Editing and Useful Apps

Photos often fuel my wanderlust better than words do. So, taking pictures around the world and creating a beautiful visual backdrop for my blog has always been something I truly enjoyed.

I used to edit with Lightroom – especially captures with subjects or portraits. Although, with landscapes, I’m currently into the natural looks. Therefore, for quick edits I’ve been using PhotoScapeX on Mac lately. For graphics, social media posts with text, and pins – Canva is definitely the best.

As to the mobile apps, there are few of them I find quite useful. First of all, Snapseed is the best free and quite complete tool for mobile editing out there and VSCO has some cool filters. Moreover, when I want to pack light and leave my camera at home – ProCamera for iPhone is a great tool to take raw photos.

One of my favorite things on the road is chasing beautiful sunsets around the world: there´s a really cool app for this, called Sun Surveyor. It is super handy if you want to predict golden hour, blue hour, sunrise & sunset.

Disclaimer: There is none, I just really wanted to write this piece of content for you. <3

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