5 Pro Editing Tips To Make Your Photos Instantly Better

5 Pro Editing Tips To Make Your Photos Instantly Better

There is a lot of various advice on the internet. A large chunk of it is bad or irrelevant. Editing images is an art. It is an art that takes a while to master. Because there is so much bad info online, I decided to share some of my favorite editing techniques I use to get my signature look. 

I remember trying to edit my first image. I spent far too much time in Lightroom and ended up simply auto-editing it and sending it off. It was always a mystery how photographers are able to pull off simply mind-blowing edits in their post-production software without using Photoshop. I saw how some photographers don’t retouch their images at all, instead simply giving a color-graded version that looks like it has taken hours in Photoshop. Nobody shared their secrets at the time, so I had to figure it out myself. While I will never know exactly what any other photographer does to their images in post, I can share some of my own tips and tricks to help you get better edits out of your own photos.

Mind you, these are based on my own workflow and editing preferences. If you look at my work, you can see very well that there is nothing I love as much as contrast and color. Be it a black and white photo, there is sure to be contrast. While there are more intricate things I like to do in color grading to make my look, the basics are contrast and color.

Don’t Just Use Film Presets

I am a victim of this myself. One day I got my hand on a few film presets and used them for a while. I won’t lie; these do serve as a great foundation for your own color grades; however, they alone can’t be passed off as your color grades. There are several reasons for this. I see a lot of photography all around me, from Instagram to casting models, to reading various magazines. Unfortunately, it is almost too obvious which photographer used which preset for their images. If your market is small enough, you could get away with this, of course, though. I know of at least one photographer who is using Lara Jade presets and is one of the most promising names in the industry in that market. If you really dislike color grading, you can always hire a retoucher and send references for the look you want. It is surprisingly easy to copy a color grade.


This is a slider few use or perhaps use the wrong way. In Capture One, your dehaze slider goes to positive but also negative values. If you introduce more haze to your image, it will decrease contrast, as well as make your image more homogenous. It has an effect somewhat similar to photo filters in Photoshop. I love using the dehaze slider on a lot of my work before beginning to work with curves. You see, simply doing curves will, for sure, introduce contrast, but the contrast will look quite rough. If you dehaze your image and then work with the curves, you will get much softer and nicer results. It is also great for preserving details in highlights and lifting up shadows.


So after dehazing, the natural step is curves. Once again, one of my all-time favorite tools, as curves allow you to edit the image with immense precision, but also with quite a high degree of breadth. Typically, I do either a regular s-curve or an inverted s-curve. This can, of course, extend to adding upwards of a dozen points on a curve and then also adjusting the image parts via layers. I mostly use the Luma curve and rarely go into colors with curves. Typically, it is better to adjust those with levels.

AI Masking

Another great resource for getting better edits out of your images is using masking. Before I was using simple masks and layers in Capture One; however, with the new update, I am able to use AI masking and edit with incredible precision. Not only does Capture One mask your subject and background, but it automatically detects various parts of the image and can create a separate mask for them. This is incredibly useful when you need to edit the outfit separately from the model’s face and so on. While this is a fairly new feature I have been using, I already love it. For example, when working in a small space and shooting against a colored background, I naturally get a color cast on the model’s skin. When it doesn’t fit the look, I can simply go ahead and edit it out with AI Masking and make the image better.

Editing Individual Colors

A fantastic capability I don’t see too many photographers use is the ability to edit individual colors. While many know about editing colors that are given to you by the software such as the reds, greens, and so on, did you know you could pick a color and edit just that? I use this feature to get interesting background effects, as well as improve accuracy of certain tones. For example, on one of the shoots I was doing, it was imperative to get the shade of the red lipstick just right. This is where I went ahead and selected that lip and matched it to the one desired. With properties such as hue, saturation, uniformity, and luminosity, you are able to give your colors a completely new look. For example, when shooting e-commerce, the greens might be slightly off as the image is slightly overexposed. This can be easily remedied by going ahead and fixing it in the selective color editor.

Some Bonus Tips

A bonus tip for color grading like a pro would be to get familiar with the levels panel and use it in conjunction with curves. In it, you are able to control the level of each individual color and the effect it has on the highlights, shadows, and midtones. This is a fantastic way to color grade your work. Another bonus tip would be to not be afraid to turn the slider all the way down or unusually up. While I advise staying away from using a certain slider to the max, you could absolutely use it to the minimum. As such, I often turn contrast all the way down, as well as dehaze the image. This removes all contrast, which is then gently introduced in the curves.

Illya Ovchar's picture

Illya aims to tell stories with clothes and light. Illya's work can be seen in magazines such as Vogue, Marie Claire, and InStyle.
LIGHTING COURSE: https://illyaovchar.com/lighting-course-1

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