6 Ways To Edit Photos Fast and Beautifully Using Lightroom

ifb before after style alina

Photo via Style by Alina

Standing out in a sea of fashion bloggers isn’t easy, but having great photos can put you one step ahead of the game. Whether you want to grow your followers, get featured on reputable fashion sites or attract brands for collaborations, the key is to have beautiful photography.

But you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on a professional camera to get great photos for your blog. Even if you only have an entry level DSLR camera, knowing how to edit your photos can make a huge difference in how they look. In fact, editing plays an essential role in defining your brand and aesthetic and gives your photos that extra edge that you don’t automatically get straight out of a camera, even if you use a mega-expensive camera.

One of the most popular desktop photo editing tools among bloggers and photographers is Adobe Lightroom. With a user-friendly interface jam packed with lots of features designed to streamline the photo editing process, it’s no wonder that Lightroom is the preferred tool. It takes me just 15-20 minutes to edit a set of photos for my blog—meanwhile it used to take me 2 hours with Photoshop. When you’re a busy blogger, the last thing you want to do is spend all your time editing photos. There is a small learning curve, but once you pass that hurdle, Lightroom will quickly become your best friend. If you’re new to app, don’t be afraid. You’ve likely already experience many of Lightroom’s features in some of your favorite mobile apps such as VSCO, Snapseed, and Instagram. So if you’re already familiar with them, you’re good to go!

Below are six tips on how to beautify your photos in Lightroom! I will walk you through you what settings you need to tweak to make certain enhancements. All the tools can be found in the Developer Tab in the right panel.

1. Get Sharper Photos

There are two tools in Lightroom to create clearer and sharper photos: Sharpening and Clarity. If you are the main subject of the photo, I’d recommend using Sharpening, as the effect is subtle and more realistic. Clarity is more appropriate when you’re emphasizing textures of buildings or landscapes. The effect is stronger and more pronounced with Clarity. For Sharpening, anywhere between 50-65 is the optimal setting in my experience. Remember, the higher the setting, the more noise or grain you’ll add to the photo, so a little goes a long way.

While these tools work wonderfully, if your original photos are too blurry, Lightroom may not be able to help much. To give Lightroom the best starting point, make sure you are shooting in the best conditions, allowing your lens to capture as much light as possible which will result in clearer photos.

2. Get Brighter Photos

Lightroom provides several tools to brighten photos but the ones I use most often are Exposure & White. Depending on how dark your photos are, with Exposure you only need to increase it by a small amount to see a big a difference. I usually add between (.15 to.75). Beyond .75, your photos will start to look washed out. In some cases, when Exposure alone is not sufficient, increasing White can help brighten the photo more without overwhelming it with lights.

3. Enhance & Manipulate Colors 

Depending on your aesthetic, Lightroom provides a wide range of tools to enhance and manipulate the colors in your photos. If your photos are too warm or cool, correct it with the White Balance Treatment too by adjusting the Temp (temperature) setting. If you want more advanced coloring, try the Split Toning tools which allow you to change the hue and saturation of highlights and shadows. Want even more control? Lightroom also allows you to manipulate the hue and saturation of primary and secondary colors in your photos.

4. Add Definition 

The key to making your photos pop is applying a balanced amount of light and contrast. For example, whenever I brighten a photo, I’d also try to adjust the Contrast, Highlight, Black Shadow settings to compensate for the increase in Exposure. Doing this ensures that while you’re making the photo brighter globally, you’re also enriching the dark and shadow tones. Otherwise, your photos will look washed out and one dimensional.

5. Remove Blemishes & Other Distractions

If you’re looking for a quick way to remove dust, beauty blemishes or any small distractions in your photos, the Heal Brush in Lightroom is the perfect tool for the job. With the Brush tool selected, simply hover over the blemish and click to remove it. It’s that simple! I’d recommend keeping the brush default settings as is and only changing the size of the brush based on the blemish you’re looking to remove.

6. Shoot in RAW

While technically this is before you ever open Lightroom, it's critical to the editing process. As the name indicates, RAW files contain the unprocessed information about your photo including but not limited to its exposure, contrast, highlights, shadow, and white balance. This information allows you to have complete control over the editing process in Lightroom without sacrificing quality.

7. Make Your Life Easy, Automate Editing!

One the best features in Lightroom is the ability to create your own presets or filters. When you’re doing bulk editing, this is a huge time saver. If there is a set of settings that you would like to apply to all your photos, simply create a preset for them by clicking on the “+” sign on the “Preset” tab, which can be found on the left panel.

Check out a before and after of one of my blog photos, edited using Lightroom. 

New to Lightroom? You can download a free trial on the Adobe website or purchase a monthly plan for as low as $9.99/month. Also check out these 36 Must Have Presets that can be used in lightroom to help speed up editing

Happy editing! What’s your favorite photo editing tool?

For more advanced tips and resources, visit this Lightroom Preset Shop designed to help fashion bloggers take their photos to the next level. You can also find Alina on her fashion blog and Instagram

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About The Author

Alina is the founder of Style by Alina (a personal style blog) and Style Studio (a digital photo studio) aimed to help bloggers succeed. A former Silicon Valley techie, she has built a successful career in fashion since making the transition two years ago while on her honeymoon. Alina currently resides in sunny California with her husband and seven-month baby, who keeps her super busy and motivated.

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9 Responses

  1. heychelsey

    I totally agree! I used Photoshop for years, and purchased Lightroom this year. I just recently created a preset that fits my brand and makes mass photo editing a breeze. Now, the longest part of the photo editing process is selecting which pics to use and which to toss.

    • stylebyalina

      So true, Chelsey! Lightroom is probably one the best investments I made when it comes to blogging. So much easier with it.

  2. Steve Boyko

    Great list – don’t forget the adjustment brush that you can use for local work rather than affecting the entire image. For portraits the teeth whitening and eye brightening presets for the brush are great.

  3. Zuma

    I don’t know why it took me so long to start using Lightroom instead of Photoshop! It is so much easier!! Love the white balance treatment feature. And thank you for mentioning shooting in RAW. It’s an excellent point. Great post!! Zuma.

  4. sheelagoh

    So I’ve just purchased the iPhone version and already used it twice. Photoshop need no longer cause me panic attacks and migraines.

    With much gratitude, Sheela 🙂

  5. ahhhsoneo

    While I like to shoot in “RAW” mode, I think you should have also warned your readers that those photos are huge. Can’t wait to try it out.

  6. Mr Karim

    I’m a graphic designer and your advice completely professional. It help me professional work. Thank you so mach.