Monday, January 9, 2012

Complete Newborn Edit Tutorial

This tutorial is for all of you new photographers who are still trying to get your newborn editing skills where you want them.  I use some purchased actions in my editing, but I can say without a doubt that those actions have been one of the best investments I've made for my business.  I know how to do all these things myself BUT not as well and not as efficiently.  The companies that sell their actions are (usually) photoshop geniuses and having that kind of skill available to use on my work has helped set me apart from all other photographers in my city! 

Okay here goes, a complete newborn edit:

I always shoot in RAW.  It's amazing.  When you shoot in RAW Photoshop will automatically open your image in Photoshop Camera Raw, where you can make improvements in a snap.  You can often even save underexposed or overexposed photos if you've shot in RAW.  So the first thing I do is make adjustments in Photoshop Camera Raw. 

Here are the things I always check for and often tweak in this step:
- color balance (My photos often have a little too much red, so I move the slider towards the cyan side a little and voila, much better!)
- exposure (Very important!  This depends on your style.  I like bright photos so I typically brighten until I start to see hot spots then I take it back down to that level just before they showed up.)
- temperature (Would it look better if it were a bit warmer?)
- I usually raise the black a little
- I often up the clarity a little
- Sometimes fill light if my shadows are too heavy

Most photos don't need all of those edits.  In this photo, for example, all I did was adjust the color balance a bit, raise the blacks to +6 and raise the clarity to +3.  And then we have this to work with:

Okay now that we are in photoshop I run two of my favorite actions.  The first is classic color from the Florabella Classic Workflow Collection.  The second is creamy and smooth skin from Paint the Moon's Picture Perfect Portrait Mega Set.  Skin smoothing is essential for newborn portraits to look professional!  And now we're here:

My next step was to sharpen her eyes with the sharpen tool.  I also used the patch tool to get rid of a little cut on her cheek.  I then decided there was still a little too much red in her skin.  There are two ways you can fix that.  You can either lower the saturation of the reds by going to hue/saturation in the image menu under adjustments.  You would then select reds in the drop down menu and lower the saturation to your liking, sometimes raising the brightness too.  The other option is in the same menu, but instead you would select color balance and just move the red slider towards the cyan side until you like your result.  In this case I went the saturation route.  You can also create a layer mask if you want the changes to be made only to baby's skin and not the rest of the photo.  In this case that wasn't necessary.

My last step with any photo is usually using my Boost action from Pioneer Woman (this one is free)!  I rarely leave it at 100% opacity, this time I lowered it to 20%.  I know you can do the same thing using curves, but I am yet to become an expert at curves. 
I hope that was helpful.  Let me know if you have any questions for me!  Happy editing :)


  1. I'm really not sure how I landed here, but WOW! I am loving the step by step detail. New amateur with a fancy camera that really needs everything spelled out for me. This was AWESOME!! Thanks!

  2. Thanks Lauren, I'm so glad I could be of help!


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