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Journalistic Portrait – How It Was Shot and Edited

By Joseph Cha on March 18th 2014

Fun New Toys!

Over the past weekend I’ve been shooting a lot with the Sony A7 with the Voigtlander 50mm f/1.1 lens. I really love this camera and lens combination. I haven’t shot with an outfit as enjoyable as this one in a long time, and it’s really been encouraging me to shoot less with an iPhone and more with a proper camera.


I was about to head out the door to go bowling with some friends when I heard my niece waking up from her nap and crying. I looked down at my watch and I thought to myself “I have some time” so I went upstairs to see if I could capture anything worthwhile of my 18 month old niece.

Setting Up The Shot

As soon as I got into the room I knew I didn’t want to shoot down into the crib, instead I wanted to shoot through the bars and frame my niece in between them.

baby photography collage

I wasn’t really happy with the shots I was getting, until she sat against the bars. Then I adjusted where I was shooting and I was able to get a nice foreground blur and a bit of a vanishing point, which together adds nicely to the composition and aesthetic of the photo.

newborn photography

Developing The Photo

My Mixology

  • 01-10 BASE – SOFT: 13a. Light Crush – Skin Desat

Local Area Adjustments

  • Graduated Filter: 02 Burn (Darken) -1.0 Stops
  • Adjustment Brush: 14 Clothing | Texture
  • Adjustment Brush: 15 Hair | Lashes
  • Adjustment Brush: 03 Burn (Darken) -0.5 Stops

Applying Mixology and Local Area Adjustments

Now I’m going to show you exactly how I edited this image in order to get the look and feel I want.

Applying the Preset

The first preset I’m applying to this image is the “01-10 BASE – SOFT: 13a. Light Crush – Skin Desat” preset. I chose this preset because of the framing and colors in the photo. Usually for newborn/baby photography I like a lighter, warmer, and softer image, but I’m taking this photo in a cooler and crisper direction.

light crush slrlounge preset

Graduated Filters

The overall image is bright, and I want the focus to be on my niece, so I’m applying two Graduated Filters with the “02 Burn (Darken) -1.0 Stops” preset on the left and right side of the image.


Using The Adjustment Brush For Clothes and Hair

The turquoise in the onesie is a little faded, and I want that color to pop more, especially against the pink blankets, so I’m using the “14 Clothing | Texture” preset with the Adjustment Brush to bring out that color. I pressed “O” to bring up my Overlay so you can see exactly where the brush adjustments were applied.

Clothing and Texture Adjustment Brush

My niece’s eyes are falling a little out of focus, so I’m using the “15 Hair | Lashes” preset with the Adjustment Brush to bring out details in the eyes. I’m only applying this brush on the eyelashes and eyebrows because I want the eyes themselves to remain soft.

Hair and Lashes Adjustment Brush

The last thing I’m going to do is burn some of the hair that’s looking a little too bright on the left side of her head. I’m using the “03 Burn (Darken) -0.5 Stops” preset with the Adjustment Brush on the parts of her hair that are too bright.

Burn Adjustment Brush

And now I’m finished developing this image! Here’s what my photo looks like before and after my preset and local area adjustments are applied.





Conclusion and Learn More

I hope you enjoyed this article. This image was edited using the the SLR Lounge Lightroom Presets v5.

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I’m a photographer and cinematographer based in Southern California. When I don’t have a camera in my face I enjoy going to the movies and dissecting the story telling and visual aesthetics.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Pye

    Love this article and shot Joe. Very nice. I think it would also look awesome in B&W, just because there isn’t that much “great” color in the shot to begin with. Would really pull in the focus into her eyes. Love it, cute!

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  2. Paul

    Great. A quicker approach would be a universal increase in exposure and an exposure gradient starting mid to left.

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  3. Kishore Sawh

    nice breakdown Joe. Cute kid, and with every post I see of it, I feel like I need to go buy an A7…right now.

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