Headshot Photography Adobe Lightroom

8 Effective Tips to Edit Headshots in Lightroom

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Written By Nate Torres

In this guide, we’ll be discussing how to edit headshots.

You’ve taken a headshot photo and you’re happy with how it turned out, now it comes time to edit it!

Editing is half the battle when it comes to having a successful final product. With that being said, let’s dive into 8 editing tips for your headshots using Adobe Lightroom!

We’ll be covering the following topics (click on a bullet point to jump to that section):

Why You Want to Edit Headshots?

Good question. And the answer can be summed up in one word: better.

When you edit headshots, the final result is more professional and it’s easier to convey your message to your clients, whether that message is “I’m a movie star!” or “Hi, I’m Jane Doe, here are my qualifications.”

Editing headshots is important, and you can do it with a few tools and an app or software.

The one we will be using in this guide is Adobe Lightroom, but the terminology and technique can be applied to other apps as well.

The best way to edit headshots is

  • First, you need a picture of course,
  • Then you open the photo in Adobe Lightroom
  • And the final step is adding some finishing touches. That’s it!

There are different ways to edit headshots and we will go through each step of editing.

How to Edit Headshots?

1. Import the Photos

First, you need to import your photos into Adobe Lightroom.

You can do that by going to the Library module, clicking on Import Photos and Videos, navigating to the destination folder for your files, selecting them all ( CTRL + A), right-clicking on them, and choosing Develop Settings > Copy to copy them.

edit headshots import
import photos

Now that the photos are important and ready to be edited, let’s dive into the editing.

2. Remove Any Marks or Blemishes

The easiest way to do that is by going to the Spot Removal tool, in the toolbar, and clicking on it. You can then click and drag a square around a spot or blemish you want to remove.

edit headshots spot removal
spot removal tool

Clicking on the spot will automatically select it and you can press DELETE on your keyboard to remove the spot.

If you are unhappy with your selection, you can undo it by pressing CTRL + Z or going to Edit > Undo.

3. Adjust the Exposure of Your Headshot

The next step is to adjust the exposure of your headshot.

Go to the right side of your screen, where you have all of your tools. It will bring up sliders for Highlights, Lights, Darks, or Shadows.

Dragging them will adjust the exposure of your headshot. Drag to the left to darken and drag to the right to brighten.

edit headshots exposure
Exposure +0.50

If you are unhappy with any changes, you can always go back by clicking on DETAIL and choosing for example Shadows, then pressing CTRL + Z or going to Edit > Undo.

You can also reset individual sliders by right-clicking on them and choosing Set to 0.

4. Soften the Skin

To soften the skin in Adobe Lightroom, you can adjust the clarity and sharpness settings.

For the clarity bar, dragging the slider to the right will make your headshot softer and vice versa.

The next step is going to be sharpening, which you can also find to the right (Scroll down, it will be in the “Details” section

Sharpening helps bring out all of the details in your photo by increasing the edge contrast. It makes your headshot look more crisp and defined.

To soften the skin, drag the sharpen bar slightly to the negative side. Just be careful to not go overboard or your subject may end up looking like a weird doll.

edit headshots soften skin
Clarity -10, Sharpness -10, Be very subtle with these changes

5. Diminish Wrinkle Lines

To diminish the wrinkle lines, you can use the brush tool and lighten up the wrinkle lines by adjusting the contrast, shadows, clarity, and sharpness of the lines.

edit headshots diminish wrinkle lines
The red is the brush tool highlight mask

6. Brighten Eyes

To brighten the eyes, use the brush tool to brighten up the eyes by adjusting exposure, highlights, shadows, contrast, and whites.

edit headshots brighten eyes
The red is the brush tool highlight mask

7. Adjust Red-Eye (If Applicable)

Red eye happens when you are taking a photo with your flash on indoors or next to an artificial light source.

It usually occurs if you are close enough to your subject.

To fix it, there is a Red Eye Removal tool right next to the Spot Removal Tool.

edit headshots red eye removal tool
red eye removal tool

8. Whiten the Teeth

To whiten the teeth, similar to diminishing the wrinkle lines, use the brush tool on the teeth and bump up the exposure slightly.

You don’t want the teeth to shine bright like the sun making them look fake.

Subtle is the name of the game, and that goes for all of these tips.

edit headshots whiten teeth
The red is the brush tool highlight mask

After all those tips, you will have a final product:

edit headshots before and after
before vs after

Can Headshots Be Photoshopped?

Yes, headshots can be photoshopped.

However, it’s important to note that the retoucher should always keep in mind not to turn the model into a plastic Barbie doll with overly enhanced features.

edit headshots over edited
Example of an overly edited photo

This is why many professional models turn away from photoshoots if they don’t like the editing style of the photographer.

Final Remarks

We hope you learned and enjoyed this guide on how to edit headshot photos.

This guide is a part of our Headshot Photography Tips Hub, so be sure to also check that out if you are looking for more headshot tips and insights.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you edit a headshot on iPhone?

To edit a headshot on an iPhone, you can use the built-in Photos app or download a third-party app from the App Store. With either option, you can adjust things like brightness, contrast, and saturation, as well as crop and straighten the image to your liking.

How do you edit an acting headshot?

When editing an acting headshot, it’s important to keep the image looking natural and realistic while still enhancing its overall quality. You can use photo editing software to adjust the brightness and contrast, remove blemishes and wrinkles, and make other subtle adjustments that will help the image look its best without appearing over-edited.

Should headshots be edited?

Headshots can be edited to enhance their overall quality, but it’s important to avoid over-editing or altering the image in a way that looks unnatural. The goal is to present an accurate and professional representation of the subject, so any editing should be subtle and done with care.