Any article that shares tips about photo editing mistakes is read with concern by photographers and photo editing experts, because they simply don’t like to discover something they have done wrongly. While most experienced photo editors have ego problems, people who have just joined the profession and started offering photo editing services are eager to learn about the possible mistakes as they want to provide quality services to their clients. There is no doubt that “how to edit a photo” is a very personal choice, but professionals often forget that while they have the freedom to edit, the final result matters the most. If the client is not happy with your editing, all the hard work will go in vain.
Thus, it is better to control your enthusiasm while editing and learn the ways to avoid the common mistakes. Remember one golden principle. The subject in an image should look beautiful, not unnatural. If anyone takes a look at your image and says, “Oh! Its edited!”, you should be ashamed.
Here are some of the common editing mistakes and their solutions. I will use Adobe Photoshop as reference because majority of people use it for retouching images.
Mistake 1: Too much use of actions
Let’s admit that image editors love to use actions in Photoshop. An action helps you achieve a certain look for an image with the click of a button. Actions are very handy as you don’t have to do anything manually, but too much use of it can spoil the natural look of a photo. In order to reduce the over processed look of an action, you need to lower the opacity of the applied action. This can be done by opening the action folder in the layers palette.
Mistake 2: Get rid of body marks
A birthmark, mole or wrinkle may seem ugly to you, but it is a part of the subject’s identity. If you remove a mole just because it looks odd on the face, the client may not like it or think that “if the photographer removed it, it means it looks bad on my face.” Therefore, it’s always better to ask the person whether he/she wants the mark to be removed or not. If they can’t decide, you can tell them you can lighten the mark as well, which is probably the best solution. This way, the photo will look genuine, but the mole or birthmark will not look obtrusive to the eye. You can use clone stamp, patch or healing brush tool to fix a facial mark.
Mistake 3: Skin that looks like plastic
Do not use gaussian blur while editing a portrait, because a good photo editing services provider makes a photo look beautiful, not artificial. You can remove all the blemishes and wrinkles using clone stamp, patch tool and healing brush, and then apply a skin smoothing action. Reduce the opacity manually and you will get naturally beautiful skin.
Mistake 4: Forget to optimize for the web
Once your client gets the photos, he/she will probably upload them on Facebook, Picassa or Pinterest to share the precious moments with friends. Therefore, it’s important to save the photos in web friendly format after editing. For example, in Photoshop, you can go to File>Save>Web and Devices. Just one thing, after editing and prior to saving, use a web sharpen action to get the glossy look.
Mistake 5: Over sharpened eyes
We love to see bright and sharp eyes in photographs, but don’t make the eyes too sharp because it looks scary. When you sharpen the photo for web, run the action on a duplicate layer and lower the opacity of the sharpness and the image will look perfect.
Mistake 6: Eye and teeth too white
In order to whiten the teeth, you must lower the level of yellow in hue/saturation layer and brighten up the eyes by adjusting curves, levels or screen layer. Just one suggestion, don’t overdo anything because people can tell the difference when they know the person and that can be actually embarrassing for your client.
Mistake 7: Fake sun flare
If the original photo didn’t capture any sun flare, it is best not to add it later using Photoshop. People can identify a faux sun flare when they see it and can immediately start questioning the genuineness of the photograph.
If you want to make your photo editing services popular among clients, you can’t afford to make the mistakes I have mentioned above. The only way to enhance your editing skills and get rid of the silly errors is more and more practice. Edit stock photos or any other photos you are not going to mail to the client and you will gradually start identifying your mistakes. Remember, practice makes a man perfect and the rule applies to photo editors as well.