5 Tips to Improve Your Photos


A common misconception. about editing photos is that it takes an expert to do it. For novice instagrammers, it’s a matter of putting a filter on the photo and immediately posting it. The truth of the matter is that ANYONE can take their photos to the next level and all it takes is patience.

For this tutorial I will be using Adobe Lightroom. It is cheap and it offers more tools to dive deeper into the look you actually want. If you are a student or work in education, you get a major discount and I promise it is worth the money. Adobe even offers a free mobile app for the ones who use their phones to capture images!

1. Shoot in RAW

This has nothing to do with editing at all but it is essential to getting the perfect look out of your photos. If you have never picked up a camera or very new in the photo game, you are probably asking, “What on Earth is RAW?” To put it into really simple terms, it’s basically storing not only the image but the data the camera used to capture the image. For example, if my white balance is completely off when shooting I will have really blue or orange looking photos. If I shot those pictures in RAW, I can easily edit the color temperature without losing much quality in the photo (compared to a normal JPEG).

“BUT AARON, I’M TAKING PICTURES WITH A PHONE!” — Maybe You

Modern phones are starting to offer RAW image capturing! Look in your phone camera settings and see if you can change it. If not, it’s no big deal but it sure does save the quality of your photo when you start editing.

2. Get an Image-Processor (Desktop or Mobile App)

If you are mainly taking photos for social media, you may have never downloaded an individual application to edit your photos. Their are many different benefits to having a dedicated photo editor like Lightroom to make adjustments. It usually offers way more controls and flexibility for adjusting the photo to the way you want it compared to built in photo editors like Facebook and Instagram. For me, Lightroom isn’t only a powerful photo editor but it is an organizer and manager.

Some free mobile apps include:

  • Adobe Lightroom
  • - Snapseed
  • - VSCO
  • - Aviary

Once you have a dedicated photo editor, it’s time to make your pictures come to life!

3. Learn the Adjustments and their Functions

Sure you can experiment and start adjusting random settings but to completely revamp a photo, you much know what needs to be done. Here are the most common photo editing functions and how to use them in your edits.

Temperature — (AKA — Color Temperature) refers to the amount of warmth in t he photo. If your photo is too blue or orange, this should be the first setting to adjust.

NOTE: It helps to refer to the first step of shooting your photos in RAW. This format saves more information to make better adjustments

Tint — Just like color temperature, tint is a scale from green to pink. If your photo is more to one side, adjust it with this setting.

Exposure — Adjusts the brightness of the photo

NOTE: The more bright you adjust the photo, the more grain that is introduced. Use this setting sparingly.

Contrast — Differentiates the. colors.

Highlights — Brightens/Darkens the bright sections of your photos

Shadows — Brightens/Darkens the dark sections of your photos

Whites — This setting is different from highlights, Instead of adjusting the amount, it amplifies the color.

Blacks — Like the whites, it amplifies the color of the darker portions.

Clarity — Sharpens the photo by condensing the pixels within the photo

NOTE: This ISN’T a refocusing tool! It’s best used when the contrast between lines within the photo are dull.

Vibrance — Adjust amplitude of the overall color

Saturation — Adjusts the amount of overall color

4. Start with Presets

If you are struggling to understand the controls and you don’t have a starting point, start with a preset. I’m not saying to slap on a preset and run with it.. Pick a preset that goes best with the photo and make adjustments within the basic settings to get the look you want.

NO PRESET IS PERFECT FOR ANY PHOTO

For Lightroom, there are plenty of default presets OR you can find amazing presets all over the internet. Use them to your advantage!

4. Export Properly

When you are exporting your photos, make sure the render quality is at its highest. This is something that is overlooked by many people, especially when in a rush. Here are my Lightroom export settings:

The quality control is highly overlooked when in a hurry so make sure you bump it up! It makes a difference.

NOTE: Some websites and services have a file size limit so match the quality with the file size you are shooting for.