Before we bring out photographs into Photoshop they have to go through some kind of raw processor. For many of photographers, that raw processor is Lightroom. But Lightroom doesn’t just have to be for tweaking your exposure and contrast. Adobe’s RAW engine has gotten pretty powerful over the years, and there’s a lot you can do in Lightroom now.
In this four-minute video, Tajreen Hedayet talks us through for of the most used portrait processing techniques for Lightroom she uses to help enhance her portraits.
Refine the details
While you don’t want to go overboard, brightening the teeth and eyes a little can help to add more life and sparkle to a portrait. You’ll also want to enhance some of the detail areas, such as eyebrows and hair, which can be done selectively using the adjustment brush tool, which can improve the apparent sharpness in the image without oversharpening skin pores.
This one’s going to be quite subjective and will depend on the type of portrait photography you shoot. If you’re more of a dark, moody and contrasty type of photographer, then it might not be so helpful. But if you’re more the high key location look, this can help add some bright vibrancy to your shots. This isn’t actually a glow glow, like Photoshop’s “Glow” filter. It’s mostly just increasing the midtones and highlights while leaving the shadows untouched.
Dial in the skintones
I tend to trust my ColorChecker for this one, but still the white balance for the scene might not produce quite the right look of skin that you’re after. You can refine this by just adjusting the hue, luminance and saturation of the orange colours where skin falls.
While I prefer to clean up the skin in Photoshop, you can do some work to improve the skin in Lightroom, too. How much you adjust it will depend on the image in question and your personal tastes, but try not to turn your subjects into a plastic doll.
Whether you use these techniques, and how strongly you apply them is up to you. But they’re worth practising with to understand them.
What are your favourite Lightroom portrait processing techniques?