3 Photo Editing Tips for Children’s Portraits

Who doesn’t love photographing kids? With a subject so full of energy and life, it’s difficult to get a bad shot of a happy child. Nevertheless, as Aaron Nace proves in this tutorial, there’s always room for improvement:

Though the image that Nace started with was adequate, applying a few tweaks to the image details ultimately made a huge difference. Here are some tips that are easy to apply and can elevate the overall quality of your images.

1. Add some sparkle to the eyes.

Every photographer strives to capture the beauty of a subject’s eyes in their portraits. By sharpening, brightening, and adding color to a child’s eyes, you can take a photograph from good to great.

The trick to making sure that only a subject’s eyes are altered is a simple layer mask. From there, you can make global adjustments to the eyes with tools such as the brightness and contrast slider or smaller, local edits by implementing the brush tool. The easiest way to get an extra pop of color is through adding an adjustable vibrance and saturation layer, then using the same mask as before to block out other areas within the image. The sharpen tool, set to affect all layers and preserve detail, provides the perfect finishing touch and brings the eyes to life.

eye adjustments photoshop

2. Use vignetting to bring the focus in on the child.

An easy way to get all eyes on your subject is to add a vignette. By focusing the lightest parts of your photograph on the subject and leaving other less important aspects in relative darkness, you create contrast and naturally draw the eye toward the brightest part of your image.

The easiest way to create vignetting is to add a black-to-white radial gradient layer set to the “soft light” blend mode. From there, you can manage the opacity of the gradient to whatever amount you feel is appropriate.

gradient filter Photoshop

3. Opt for warmer tones when color correcting.

Photoshop comes equipped with a slew of layers meant to enhance overall image quality. You can almost instantaneously give your child’s skin a rosy, healthy glow by simply applying these tools.

Find the adjustment layer menu and select the option called Photo Filter. There you’ll find a variety of different color filters that can be used to impact the quality of light hitting your subject. Each different color cast adds a different aura to an image. An orange warming filter will often vastly improve the look of skin tones in a photograph. Sliders are included to allow precise control over how much a specific filter is applied.

Photo filter color cast

That’s all there is to it! With vibrant looks and plenty of personality, children often make for great photography subjects. The key to improving these portraits isn’t adding something that isn’t there. Rather, the beauty lies in enhancing and highlighting the wonderful qualities already within the image.

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One Comment

  1. Lisa says:

    Appreciate the paths of the solution. If I think another path to fix tone and color then I’ll choose the Levels in Ps too.

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