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Time Out With Tanya

How to Edit Newborn Portraits in Two Minutes or Less

By Tanya Goodall Smith on February 3rd 2014

Welcome to Time Out with Tanya, where I’ve put my fast paced graphic design career on hold in favor of adventures in motherhood. I’m capturing every moment on camera and you can come along, if you’d like. Sign up for my weekly email here so you’ll never miss a Time Out.


Newborns are probably the most difficult subject I’ve ever photographed. While I don’t specialize in posed newborn portraiture, I’m always trying to improve my skills and have been practicing as I get the chance. My techniques for the actual session, particularly how to pose and keep the baby calm, dramatically improved after I watched the SLR Lounge Newborn Photography Workshop.

Probably the most dramatic improvement to my newborn photos, however, has been how quick and easy the post processing goes, now that I have the presets (included with the workshop) specifically designed for newborn photos. I often hear photographers lamenting about how many hours they spend “editing” a single portrait session (or even a single photo!) Newborns are especially difficult, since their skin can be blotchy, and may require a lot of retouching.


Here’s a little peak at how to edit newborn portraits using the SLR Lounge Newborn presets for Lightroom, which allow me to literally post process a photo in under two minutes. Check it out…

how-to-edit-newborn-photosHere’s my original RAW image imported into Lightroom (yes, I’m still using Lightroom 4. I’m not joining Adobe Creative Cloud until absolutely necessary…) This was shot with a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens. I’m just using natural light from a window at camera left and a reflector on a stand at camera right. My camera was set at ISO 320, f/2.0, 1/100 of a second.

how-to-edit-newborn-photosNext, I simply clicked on the Standard Color Import in the SLR Lounge Newborn Presets. If I’m not being ultra picky, that edit is enough to be done. It’s amazing! But I want to make a few additional small adjustments.

how-to-edit-newborn-photosI’ll just bump up the exposure a little bit more and I would adjust the white balance, if needed, at this point, too. The auto white balance is looking pretty good here, so I’ll just leave it alone.

how-to-edit-newborn-photosThen, I would touch up any distracting spots or blemishes using the spot removal tool. Luckily, this baby had practically flawless skin. The preset took care of the blotchiness and, since my background was free of distractions and the quality of light was nice, I didn’t have to do much touching up. Getting the photo as “right” as possible in-camera is the #1 key to being able to edit quickly.


Lastly, I just cropped the image a little tighter for a better composition.


Here’s the final image…


And, a before and after.


I was able to edit this newborn portrait in under two minutes. If it’s taking you hours to edit your photos, you might try investing in or creating presets for speeding up your post processing. Keep in mind, the more correct you get the exposure and lighting in-camera, the less editing you’ll have to do later. Good luck and leave me a link in the comments to your newborn portfolios. I’d love to check them out!

CREDITS: All photographs by Tanya Smith are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

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Tanya Goodall Smith is the owner, brand strategist and commercial photographer at WorkStory Corporate Photography in Spokane, Washington. WorkStory creates visual communications that make your brand irresistible to your target market. Join the stock photo rebellion at

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Parri

    Nice edit!

    With the knowledge from the Newborn Workshop DVD in my brain I embarked on my first newborn shoot this weekend. I used some close friends as my guinea pigs to take some of the pressure off.

    The little man was awake for the whole 3hr sessions – but thankfully very quiet. No sleep meant no ‘classic’ sleeping shots and the concept images just didn’t happen as he wouldn’t stop moving around. Still, we were all happy with the results.

    Culled and processed the whole session in Lightroom in about an hour with the preset system and some brush and clone work.

    Here’s a sneak peak from the set.

    If anyone is on the fence about grabbing the Newborn DVD, I recommended it.

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    • tanya

      Newborns are difficult. Takes a lot of practice. The tips in the workshop really helped me. Thanks for sharing an image from your session!

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  2. Kristin Duncan

    Wow, that’s a crazy preset! I’m shocked that it’s a Lightroom preset and not a Photoshop one.

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    • tanya

      I was also shocked when I first tried them. I’m not one to use a lot of presets, but the SLR Lounge preset system has saved me a lot of time and I love the fact that they allow you to still create your own editing style.

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