Family Photo Tips from the Pros: Editing Your Photos

editing photos using Lightroom

We’re excited to share with you this new series on our site, family photo tips from the pros,  where we share our photography knowledge and experience to help you take better photos of your family.

Well friends, for this week’s topic we thought we would talk about editing your photos. After talking last time about backing up your photos, it got us thinking about how it is so easy to take lots and lots of photos in the digital age and we wondered how much you are editing your photos. So we thought we would share our tips, since we have so much experience with editing oodles of photos especially with our wedding photography.

What do we mean by editing photos?

We think of photo editing in two parts. The first is culling the photos and the second part is working on the photos to pretty them up.

So, you’re already regularly downloading your photos, archiving them properly and backing them up, right? Good. Now to go through your images so you don’t have a hard drive full of photos you might not necessarily want to keep.

An important side note is to never ever delete your photos from your camera. The preview images that you see on the screen on the back of your camera are not the same quality as the actual photo file. We see this all time with our work; a photo may not look that great when we look at it on the camera screen, but when we download it, the photo is focused and the exposure is perfect. So, please, don’t delete any photos until you’ve had the chance to download them and look at them on your computer.

Here is the system that we use for our photo editing:

1) Delete any photos that you know for sure you don’t want to keep. We delete photos that are out of focus or where the subject is blinking or it is just unflattering.

2) Rate the photos. We rate our favourite photos with 4 stars and our keepers at 2 stars. We’re not exactly sure why we do that many stars, just use whatever rating system is easiest for you. We usually go through our photos from a session 3 to 4 times culling them. How do we decide what is a 4 star? With choosing our favourites, we go by our guts, quickly rating the images that we like. That is usually why it takes so many passes to narrow the photos. You may not even need to have two different star ratings for your images. For our personal photos, we usually just have 4 star photos as those are the ones that we will share online, print and put into albums.

3) Work on the photos. Now that you’ve culled and rated your photos, you can work on them. We believe that half the work in photography is taking the photo and the other half is working on the photos in post production.

We use Lightroom for culling photos and initial editing and Photoshop for more detailed retouching work.  If you are really into photography and are shooting in RAW you might want to consider getting Lightroom. It is a great program for the price. If you’re a Mac user consider Aperture. Photoshop Elements is a great option too for PC and Mac users.

If you are just looking for something free and easy to use to pretty up your photos, there is a huge variety of free downloadable or online photo editing softwares out there like PicMonkey. Honestly, we’ve never used any of them so we can’t recommend any particular one.

We hope this has been helpful to you. Are you editing your photos? If so, we’re curious as to what system and what software you are using. Please let us know in the comments below.

Do you have any photography questions for us? Let us know!

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