Sometimes we are forced to work with less than superb color, whether it’s muted tones, distracting background objects, or clashing hues – it happens. With these 3 simple tips you can make any photo work and not fall victim to color drab.

tip #1: Turn it black and white!

We captured great expression but were surrounded by muted tones and distracting background objects. By taking the color out of the image the viewer is more channeled to look at the main subject. Want to see how we can easily change tonal color to black and white? Check out this step-by-step edit here:

Just like when editing in color, we want to make sure we have the right color temperature to make skin tones pop. By lowering the highlights and whites and increasing shadows and blacks we can create more of a mid-tone range to assist in this endeavor. Working in the HSL panel can help help to manipulate the tonal values and look of the black and white image effectively, but just be aware of how it may effect the surrounding areas.

*This will not work if you’ve shot in black and white. The image must be color to begin with.

[REWIND: 5 Tips for Perfect Journalistic Wedding Photos]

tip #2: utilize the burn tool

The burn tool is a fantastic way to increase exposure to darkened areas of an image. To reduce distractions, draw the viewer into the couple by enabling the radial burn, in which with our burn brush preset we create a subtle vignette. The burn tool can be used to add dimension for a variety of techniques like enhancing features, and you can check out our step-by-step tutorial here.

tip #3: create interest with dodging

Likewise, the Dodge tool is a great way to manipulate lightened areas of an image, and a great example of this can be seen in the image above. To create more interest in this photo dodging was done on the reflection of the couple to add dimension to the dark foreground.


By layering these effects we can create soft, seamless transitional edges that won’t distract from the beauty in the portrait.

As such, black and white photos provide the perfect opportunity to dramatically increase sharpness and clarity, and is a great option to keep in mind as a way to bring out the texture and the detail in the clothing. That said, keep in mind how this also affects the skin. By layering our soft skin preset in a mask over our existing edits we have more control over our final image.

To get a more fine-tuned edit, switch over to your brush tool. Not only will you be able to smooth out the facial features, but by toggling Alt/Option you can manipulate the tools apply/erase function to keep features, like hair, eyes, lips, and jewelry, sharp.

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