How to Color Grade a Photo in Lightroom: Cinematic Style

Do you wish your still photos had a cinematic quality or looked like they came straight out of a movie? Believe it or not, the look is actually pretty easy to create in Lightroom. Stock photographer Christi Kerekes shows us how:

Color grading, the process of altering and enhancing the color of your image, first started in the film industry but lately has been becoming quite popular with still photographers. You start from a “flat image”—here, an image with lowered contrast—and in Kerekes’ style, add “complementary colors into the shadows, the midtones and the highlights of your image.”

One especially cool thing Kereke shares is this color tool from Adobe that takes out all the guess work of finding the exact complementary color you’re looking for.

Adobe Color CC helps to chose complimentary colors

Once you’ve chosen a color for the highlights and the shadows, play around with the split toning sliders to get the look you’re going for. If you want to go deeper, use the primary hue sliders to up the saturation for the colors you want the viewer to focus on.

Final image

Color grading is a fantastic tool to add to any editor’s toolbox, potentially elevating a good image to great or a great image to spectacular. And don’t worry, the end results don’t have to be quite so stark as you’ve you seen in this tutorial. Try it out for yourself and see what you can come up with!

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2 responses to “How to Color Grade a Photo in Lightroom: Cinematic Style”

  1. Thank you for the useful tutorial. As much as I try to avoid heavy colour grading. I have found that more and more of my wedding clients are now asking for that. Probably thanks to Instagram filters.

  2. Ellie Davis says:

    Thank you for pointing out that color grading software can help you alternate and enhance the color of your image. My husband loves editing photos and wants to get some color grading software. I’ll have to look into finding the best software possible.

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