Photo Editing 101: A Beginner’s Guide

In a world reliant on visuals, photo editing has become a part of daily life. The vast majority of people edit their selfies. A recent study even showed that your profile photos affect your hireability.

Having the skill to edit photos is more than just a way to beautify your camera roll. It can boost your followers, improve your photography knowledge, or help you get hired.

Whether you want to refine your selfies or try using Photoshop, these steps can help you get started.

Choosing a Photo Editing Program

There is no single “best” photo editing software – it all depends on your needs.

Are you looking to make simple tweaks (like brightness or cropping)? Or do you want every tool available to alter small details?

If you’re looking for quick edits, software likeĀ Canva or Fotor will make picture editing a breeze. These sites allow you to add filters or change a photo’s saturation, contrast, and more. They’re also free to use.

Maybe you want to work with the industry standard. If that’s the case, Adobe Photoshop is your best bet: most of the world’s professionals use it.

Sometimes you just need help with achieving one specific edit – there are programs for that, too. Let’s say you’re searching for “photo remove background” on Google. There are many sites that will remove the background from your photo without any extra steps.

Once you’ve chosen your software, you can begin making these simple (but crucial) edits.

Cropping and Straightening

Cropping is a useful tool when you want to re-frame a subject in a photo. It can also be used to “cut out” distracting elements or reformat a picture for social media.

Straightening allows you to change a photo’s rotation – often to realign the horizon or ground. Remember that this edit will cut down on a photo’s resolution, as it has to crop in on a photo to straighten it.

Brightness and Contrast

Brightness (aka exposure) is the backbone to any photograph. If your photo is too dark or too bright, people won’t take the time to appreciate its framing or color.

You can edit exposure as you see fit. Still, there are tools you can use to make more precise changes in brightness. Histograms are especially useful for seeing how light is distributed in your photos.

Contrast determines the range between the darkest and brightest parts of your photo. When you raise the contrast in a photo, the dark parts are extra dark and the bright parts are extra bright. This gives high contrast photos their signature “pop.”

Tint and Temperature

While brightness and contrast deal with exposure, tint and temperature deal with color.

Temperature allows you to add more yellow or blue values to your photo. Adding yellow makes for a “warmer” looking picture, while blue makes a photo “colder.”

Tint functions similarly to temperature, but with green and magenta values instead.

Next Steps

Now that you’ve learned the basics, you can already add an extra layer of polish to your pictures.

But the world of photo editing is vast, from color theory to spot removal. By learning these techniques, your photos will always be at the top of their game.

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