Fashion photography is the crossing point between portraiture and product photography.
Fashion photography is also about the strong representation of clothing or accessories that the photo is meant to sell. Settings and composition are still as important as ever!
Focusing more on a model, pose, clothing, style, or individual aspect of a photo is critical.
Once you've taken a picture, where do you take it? How do you start photo editing for Instagram, your portfolio, or your website? An editorial point of view or theme allows a photograph to focus on telling a story or selling an emotion.
Selling a lifestyle, fulfilment, or enjoyment is often the purpose of a fashion photographer's images. As such, using exotic locations and having new photos is a requirement at the high end of the field.
This article will cover several different parts of how a novice can break into editing their fashion photography and offer a variety of tips for editing fashion photography.
This brings us to the editing of fashion photography.
Editing fashion is often time-consuming. Using efficient techniques to manage files and edit photos will allow you to do more and thus improve rapidly.
In the digital age, you, as a photographer, are expected to be familiar and knowledgeable with Photoshop. It can be argued whether this is right or wrong and whether Photoshop is ruining photography.
But look at Photoshop as a tool, just as the darkroom was a tool to manipulate images.
Post-processing plays a significant role in today's photographic society. Whether it's used subtlety, or for major composites, it's an essential skill to know.
Table of Contents
- 1 Tips & Elements of Editing Fashion Photography
- 2 Tips For Softwares You Should Use To Retouch Fashion Photos
- 3 Conclusion
Tips & Elements of Editing Fashion Photography
The first step is to choose the right tools for the job. Finding the right software for your photography is essential, and you can find several such devices in our editing software tutorial.
This tutorial will show you how to use Adobe Lightroom Classic and Adobe Photoshop. However, the majority of these steps can be accomplished with many of the editing programs offered above. The amount you choose to edit is up to you. However, it is essential to follow your style.
Basic File Formats
Shooting your photos in a RAW file format, rather than JPEG, will allow more flexibility in editing. RAW is a lossless file format, meaning that your image will not be compressed after taking the photo.
This means that you have more information to work with and be able to execute more extensive edits. Also, you will have more room to work with if you under or overexposed an image initially.
Basic Editing Guide
Are you still trying to find your voice through your photos?
If so, we recommend editing the same image in many ways and finding a style you can personally develop and tailor until it suits you.
Minimalistic editing allows for a much more cleaner editorial or journalistic feeling, while heavy edits can feel more like the fashion advertising that is so popular today.
For the majority of fashion work, you should be shooting with lighting. Natural lighting can work, but even continuous artificial lighting will upscale your images.
Shooting with any light sources you have and adapting them with modifiers, reflectors, diffusers, and other manipulations will leave you with a better final product.
Colour balance/White balance becomes important here and are the initial steps to editing your photographs.
In Lightroom, we have access to these tools in the Lightroom>develop module.
Here, we can either select a point to white balance by using the eyedropper tool or manually slide the white balance temperature and tint sliders.
White Balancing Your Image
When white balancing for this photo, you want the background to either be white or slightly cool.
It is currently too cyan and magenta. To combat this, add a combination of green and orange in the white balance to adjust for this. To do this, drag the Temp and Tint sliders.
Another method of doing this is by clicking the eyedropper tool. Then, dragging the device on the image, you can choose a point to white balance.
In this case, use the eyedropper and made slight adjustments for the correct colour. Your idea doesn't necessarily need to have perfect whites.
The image may be better suited to a warmer or cooler temperature. A slight tint in either the green or magenta direction can also work.
You have the option of changing the white balance using the As Shot or Auto modes.
Don't use these modes as a final destination, but rather as a place to edit from. This is where you are at after white balancing. Minor changes can do a whole lot to your image.
Now that you have made these changes to colour balance, it is time to start working on global adjustments. The Basic tab in the Lightroom develop module is a great place to start.
You can also use the Camera RAW filter in Photoshop. Any Camera RAW editing program will have the majority of these functions.
Slight adjustments are favourable to more extensive adjustments in most scenarios.
Adding a tad of Saturation or Clarity can enhance a photo, but pushing any of these sliders to the max is usually the unmistakable sign of an amateur.
(This is, of course, not always the case, and recovering shadows or highlights is often required).
A great way to learn to edit is to change the exposure slider between steps and keep an eye glued to the Histogram.
The histogram maps out the different amounts of colours and their place in your exposure in an easy to read two-dimensional Histogram.
Every time you move one of the Highlights, Shadows, Whites, or Blacks sliders, change the Exposure slider to compensate for this movement.
This will allow you to keep a neutral exposure while making the changes you desire to appear in the images.
Using other sliders, such as the HSL(Hue/Saturation/Luminance)/Color sliders, allows for local colour adjustments.
Pay specific attention to the oranges, yellows, and reds, as you can often make someone have a fantastic or ethereal skin tone by creating the correct adjustments here.
Skin tones are vital to a great portrait, as the subject's skin can help deliver a message, a theme, or an idea to the viewer.
Further Smaller Edits
A significant part of Lightroom is the presets. You can use presets as a great starting point to edit from, adding a colour that might suit your style.
Presets can give you ideas to implement into your work, and creating your own presets from past edits is a great way to recreate some elements of those photos.
If you like how you have edited an image and easily apply these edits to another photo, click the plus sign in the Presets tab in the Lightroom Develop module.
At the same time, the picture with the improvements is selected. Then, name and save your preset for future use.
Click it or any other preset you have downloaded while you have another image chosen to apply these changes.
Furthermore, a great way to make your images pop on Instagram is by adding +40 – +80 using the Sharpness slider.
Because Instagram naturally lowers your image's resolution, the increase in sharpness will make sure the image appears less muddled by the loss in quality than it otherwise would seem.
By shifting the blues and oranges slightly through the Saturation and Luminance sliders in the HSL/Color tab, change the skin and clothing to reach the aqua orange aesthetic that is incredibly popular currently.
A great resource to choose colours that will compliment an image is Adobe Color, a completely free website.
Tips For Softwares You Should Use To Retouch Fashion Photos
Most commercial fashion photographers retouch in Capture One Pro or Lightroom and Photoshop.
Lightroom is a global editor. It's best for culling and organizing your photos and for applying edits to the whole image.
There are targeted adjustment tools that allow you to work on small portions of the picture. But Lightroom is best at tackling adjustments to the entire image at once.
For high-end photography, you need Photoshop to clean up the image and refine it. Fashion photography is about creating an idealized image. It needs to look polished and bring out the best in the clothing and the model.
Retouching Fashion Photography in Lightroom
You can do all your retouching in Photoshop, but many photographers find it easier to do most of their editing in Lightroom.
You can then open up the image in Photoshop to give it that polished look. Lightroom helps you stay organized.
This is one reason why it's so popular, and so many people use it in tandem with Photoshop.
Choose a Colour Profile
Once you have chosen the photographs you want to retouch, start by selecting your preferred Colour Profile in Lightroom.
This is where your camera's colour profiles will appear. It would help if you did this before you start editing, as it will significantly affect the decisions you make.
Your choice will make a considerable difference in colour and Contrast.
Use The Basic Panel in Lightroom for Small Changes
The next step is to correct your White Balance. Keep in mind that White Balance can be set in-camera to be 100% accurate or used creatively.
For example, if your style is warmer in tone, you can push your white balance above 6000+.
Then make your edits to the Highlights and Shadows and Whites and Blacks in the Basic Panel.
If your image doesn't look correctly exposed in these areas, then you can adjust the exposure, but we don't recommend starting there.
These basic adjustments can make a big difference in your image. It's best to tweak them individually rather than boost the whole picture's brightness right out of the gate.
Adobe intends for you to work your way down the panels for the recommended Lightroom workflow.
But you'll find that you may have to jump back and forth between meetings and sliders to get the final look that you want.
Which Elements to Adjust in the Presence Panel
When retouching in Lightroom, we recommend using the Vibrance slider instead of Saturation. Vibrance lifts the mid-tones.
Saturation boosts all the colour in the image, which can make it look unnatural and clownish.
If you choose to use the Saturation slider, watch how it affects your picture as you move the slider. A maximum of +10 is usually more than enough.
Be sure to add Clarity, which will boost the Contrast in the image.
The best retouching is often the result of layering various effects at low numbers, rather than adding a high amount of any one tool, such as Contrast.
To create Contrast, you can use a combination of Contrast, Clarity, Texture, and the Tone Curve.
Tweak The Tone Curve
Many new photographers tend to shy away from the Tone Curve in Lightroom, but this is the single most powerful tool you can use.
The Tone Curve is a graphical representation of the tones found throughout your image. By making tweaks to the curve, you can significantly influence how the shadows and highlights look.
The most common tweak to the Tone Curve is a shape that resembles a soft S.
Start by lifting the curve in the middle when in the Point Curve. This will give a boost to the mid tones and brighten the image.
Pull the turn down in the bottom quarter of the curve or so to deepen the shadows. These simple tweaks can make your image immediately look more dynamic.
If you're new to the Tone Curve, try playing with the sliders in the Region Curve.
This won't give you as much control as the Point Curve but will help you make significant changes to the aesthetic of your image.
Adjust the Color in the HSL Panel
Whether you choose to adjust in Lightroom or Photoshop, the colour will significantly impact your image.
Colour is an aspect of composition and has a significant impact on the aesthetic of your photo.
You may like a desaturated look to your pictures or images with deep colour and a lot of Contrast.
Unless your aesthetic is quite warm, you might want to bring the orange Saturation down a bit in your photos.
It tends to look too strong. Also, pay attention to the Luminance sliders.
They can have a more significant effect on the look of your image than the Saturation sliders as they control the brightness of individual colours.
Use Split Toning for Highlights and Shadows
Split Toning is a Lightroom tool that you can use to significant effect when it comes to post-processing.
Split Toning adds colour toning to the highlights and shadows individually, based on luminance. However, note that a little goes a long way.
To add split toning, hold down the >Alt/Option key while moving the sliders for Highlights and Shadows.
This will allow you to see the variations for each colour and pre-visualize how it will look applied to the image.
Dial in as much Saturation as you feel appropriate for the idea. This is usually a low number.
A small amount is often all you need to make your images pop. In the picture below, split toning was added to give the image a different feel by adding warmth.
Sharpen Selected Areas With the Sharpening Mask
A good default for sharpening in Lightroom is +50. But to have more control over the amount of sharpening applied to your photo, use the Sharpening Mask.
Sharpening Mask will allow you to print only the parts of the image that need it.
In photography, you don't necessarily have to sharpen every aspect of the photo, like the background.
You can concentrate on sharpening your subject. This is where Sharpening Mask comes in.
Set your Sharpening Amount to around +50. Hold down the Alt/Option key while you slide Sharpening Mask to the right.
You'll see that your image turns black and white, kind of like an x-ray. The white part is showing you what is being sharpened.
Choose the amount that looks good to you. Perhaps somewhere between 70-90 might be adequate. Sharpening should be the last step in your Lightroom edits.
Flattening out the Image in Raw
This is the foundation for my editing. You can't build a house without a solid foundation; well, you can't edit a photo without one either.
The first thing to do when opening the photos in Camera Raw is to adjust colour temperature or exposure if you need to. You will then set the highlights slider between -30 to -80; then put the shadows slider between +30 to +80.
I want my highlights to be a little dull and shadows to be very flat and almost in the same tonal range as my midtones.
This flattens out the image quite a bit (the painting will look pretty dull and ugly). I want the image to be flat when going into Photoshop.
I flatten the image out because when I open it into Photoshop, all of the toning and techniques I use will give it the right amount of Contrast I need.
If the image has a lot of natural Contrast going into Photoshop, my plans will ruin the image and give it way too much Contrast.
Using Different Blending Modes
This is an area that is commonly overlooked. Besides changing the B&W layer to a soft light blending mode,
I will sometimes change my curves layer to luminosity. By doing this, you affect just the Contrast of the image instead of affecting the Contrast and Saturation when set to normal.
I also will open a blank layer, set the blending mode to colour, use a brush at a very low opacity (5-15%) and even out colours of skin or clothes by sampling a colour I like and painting over a colour I don't like.
There are 26 different blending modes. Try them out, experiment, and get creative.
A high-end, polished look distinguishes commercial fashion photography. It requires subtle but skilled retouching.
Over time, every photographer develops their workflow and preferred way of working. These tips will help you refine your fashion retouching skills.