Quick And Efficient Digital Editing Tips and Tricks

With the rise of digital cameras, it is easier than ever to take your portraits and spruce them up with your computer.  There are a number of good photo editing programs on the market today, but Adobe’s Photoshop is still considered to be the gold standard.  Photoshop gives photographers full creative control over their files and allows photographers to adjust mass quantities of photos with the click of a few buttons.  As such, post-processing you files in Photoshop will be discussed below. 

Use RAW File Format

All dSLR cameras have the ability to shoot in a RAW file format, which should almost always be used when taking pictures.  You other option is to shoot with JPGs, which are much smaller but much less “intelligent.”  When you shoot a JPG file, you camera will process the picture and compress the file.  The output file will look exactly the same as a RAW, but this compression of JPG files will cause some information to be lost.  This will become very important when editing your photographs. 

RAW files capture a scene exactly as your camera sees it and do not undergo any compression.  This means that RAW files are usually two to three times larger than a typical JPG file taken on any camera.  If memory is a major concern, you may want to switch to shooting JPG, but the advantages are numerous when shooting in RAW. 

The first and probably most important advantage of RAW files is their ability to be edited and corrected.  For example, if you take a photo that is severely underexposed or overexposed, a RAW file can usually be adjusted to the correct exposure.  This is usually not the case with JPG files since JPGs generally compress the whites and black in pictures, and thus lose the information necessary to correct your photo on a computer. 

The other distinct advantage of the RAW format is that their files can never be overwritten.  It is not uncommon for photographers to open a JPG, crop it down to size, and forget to hit “save as” instead of “save.”  Once they hit the save button, the information in that picture will be lost forever unless a backup exists somewhere.   


  • Always use RAW.  It may take up more memory, but the advantages are worth it. 
  • RAW files can be easily adjusted if your photos are too over or underexposed.
  • RAW files cannot be overwritten. 

Use Adobe Bridge To Organize Your Photos

Once you upload photos to your computer, first take them into Adobe Bridge.  This program, packaged with Photoshop, allows photographers to view and rate picture thumbnails quickly and efficiently. 

Take a first pass looking through your photos and weed out the files that are out of focus or just not very good.  Give all of these files a “one star” rating and either delete them or put them in a separate folder so they are still archived.  You will then want to rate the rest of your photos either two to five stars.  This will help you determine which photos you want to spend more time adjusting and which files you just want to run through actions. 


  • Open up Adobe Bridge and rate all of your photographs. 
  • Delete or move all of your one star photos that are either out of focus or just plain bad. 
  • Separate your five-star photos and concentrate your post-processing on them. 

Editing Your Photos

It may take some time to get to know your way around Photoshop, but there are a few common editing tools that you should learn before anything else.  For the most part, all of your image editing commands can be found under the “Image” drop down menu.  Under images, first start with the “adjustment” commands.  Test out the brightness and contrast, hue/saturation, and shadows and highlights tools.  These are some of the best tools to use when editing your photos.  Under the image menu, you can also adjust the size and rotate your photo. 

If you want to add an artistic flair to your photos, go to the “filter” drop down menu.  Photoshop includes many different types of filters that will make your file look more like a piece of art than a photograph.  Be very careful to not overdo filters.  Oftentimes, they will make your pictures look too over-processed. 

Once you begin to really advance in Photoshop, explore the tools included on the tool bar.  Some are very common and easy to use, but the clone-stamp and healing brush require a little more work and knowledge.  These tools will let you “Photoshop out” unwanted elements of your photos including errant hairs or even people.  Both the clone stamp and healing brush can be extremely time-consumer.  Once you master these tools, use them selectively on your photos. 


  • Start with the image drop down tools. 
  • Filters will make your photos look more like artwork and can be very tastefully used.
  • Explore the clone stamp and healing brush tools to improve your photos. 

Use Photoshop Actions To Save Time

Photographers could spend many long days adjusting every last file from a photography session.  Thankfully, Photoshop has “actions,” which automatically adjust a set of photos, to prevent this from being a necessity.  Actions can be difficult to set up for novice users, but a Google search can usually reveal a number of free downloadable actions to use on your photos. 

To use actions, you will need to go to the “file” à “automate” à “batch.”  From here, you can choose from the actions that are currently loaded into Photoshop.  Then, you will specify the files you want to adjust and where they will be saved.  Then, just hit the OK button, and Photoshop will automatically perform the commands specified in your chosen action.  Actions can be used in many different ways, but photographer can use them to adjust colors, to create softer skin tones, or add artistic effects.  Whatever the case may be for your photography business, actions will always save you time and headaches when post-processing your photographs. 


  • Actions will save you many hours of post-processing time. 
  • Free actions can be found all over the internet.  Use them. 

Carefully Organize Your Photos

After you have processed all of your photos, it is imperative that you organize them in a fashion that you will understand.  Try to keep folder names consistent between photo shoots, and try to have a similar workflow every time you take a new set of photos.  You do not want to reinvent the wheel every time you load some new photos onto your computer. 


  • Develop a organization system that you will use after every portrait session.