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Editing headshots in Lightroom

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 a successful final product...

Why 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 it 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. This guide will use Adobe Lightroom, but the terminology and technique can also be applied to other apps.

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 editing step.

How to edit headshots in Lightroom?

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.

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 to go to the Spot Removal tool in the toolbar and click on it. You can then click and drag a square around a spot or blemish you want to remove.

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.

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 will be sharpening, which you can also find to the right; 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 not to go overboard, or your subject may look like a weird doll.

Clarity -10, Sharpness -10, Be very subtle with these changes

5. Diminish wrinkle lines

To diminish wrinkle lines, you can use the brush tool to lighten them up by adjusting the contrast, shadows, clarity, and sharpness of the lines. The red is the brush tool highlight mask

6. Brighten eyes

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

8. Whiten the teeth

To whiten the teeth, like 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 game's name, and that goes for all of these tips. The red is the brush tool highlight mask After all those tips, you will have a final product:

Can headshots be Photoshopped?

Yes, headshots can be photoshopped. However, it's important to note that the retoucher should always remember not to turn the model into a plastic Barbie doll with overly enhanced features.

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

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

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