Photo Editing Tips For Beginners!

I love taking photos if you couldn't tell already haha. I have been taking photos since I could get my hands on a camera. I took classes in Highschool and College. I even changed my degree to videography, which is a little different but has the same storytelling principles. Anyways I wanted to share my skills and knowledge with you all. Whether you are just starting out or want to enhance your skills this blog will hopefully show you how to edit your travel or any photos to the next level and get you all the likes on Instagram haha!

1. Shoot RAW

If you are shooting on a DSLR then there are so many advantages to shooting in RAW format. Keep in mind though if you are shooting in RAW then your photos will need some kind of post-processing. When you shoot in this format you have the ability to really play with your photo. Most importantly I think is sometimes saving a photo from under or overexposure. This format really opens the dynamic range of photos and in my opinion giving you that incentive to be really creative with your editing. Now if you arPhotoe shooting with your cellphone camera I would still recommend taking it into editing software and applying the following tips.

RAW Image

Edited Image

2. Take LOTS of Photos

This will help in the editing process believe me. For the most part, we are shooting with digital cameras, whether that be on our phones or with a DSLR, free up space, get a bigger memory card and shoot away. When you are traveling you have a limited time so take as many shots as possible. This way when you get back to editing them you have the variety to pick and choose. If you had only shot one or two photos and then went back and looked at them and they weren't what you wanted then chances are you can't go back and try again. I always take a bunch of photos especially if I am the one in the shot and I would advise you do the same if you are looking for that perfect travel pic. I am guilty of taking one photo and hating the way it comes out but if you take a bunch and move around, try different poses or angles (if you aren't shooting a portrait) then you are bound to love one of them. So get clicking!!


Especially for travel photos. We find places we want to go and take photos at or of and we find inspiration online etc. but once we get there and take the shot of the same exact thing we saw online we are limiting ourselves. Yes, get the typical shot everyone else is getting but then as I said above to take a bunch of shots shoot at different angles, shoot through things like leaves or fences. Move around find a spot that doesn't have that many tourists (changing the time you go to a place if available can help the number of people in the background. Being patient is another good tip when shooting famous landmarks you can usually find a good window when there are fewer people in the shot). Get super close to something and shoot the details then get shots of the whole scene. Think outside of the box, you will thank me later when you have a variety of things to edit as well as cool and unique photos to show off!

Shot of a Venetian waterway through a fence.

Side of the Trevi Fountain ( moved to the side to avoid ppl and get a different view).

4. Adjust your Basics

Now that I have given you tips to taking photos haha here is a tip when you open your fresh batch of photos into your editing app of choice. Start with your Exposure, White Balance, and Contrast.

  • Exposure- if you are shooting in RAW as I said above you have some wiggle room to make it a little bit brighter or darker. Make sure that your desktop or cellphone's brightness is in the middle range (not too bright and not too dark) as most people viewing the photo will have the same settings.

  • White Balance - Adjusting the white balance can really create a color tone for your photo. If you want to create a true color photo this is an important step. If you are using lightroom or your editing software has an eyedropper for White Balance simply click on a neutral grey or white part of your photo to automatically adjust the color.

  • Contrast & Saturation- This is also another key step when editing RAW photos as your photos will most likely look dull and the colors will be flat. This will help your colors pop or it could take away from colors you don't want.

Moving on from the basics you can now get more creative. These adjustments are a baseline to start getting creative.

Grape Leaves in San Gimignano

5. Set a Mood or Feeling

I know that doesn't sound like editing at all haha but it's the same concept. You want to create a feeling with your photos even if you are just sharing these photos with family and friends. Creating a mood for your photo enhances the viewers experience it takes the person to the place you are showing them. So that's my tip create the mood or feeling you had when shooting this. So If you are posing in front of the Effiel tower showing off your best french fashion then go with something that is fun or edgy. If it a sunset over the Grand Canyon than go for warm, purples, and pinks to create a peaceful and majestic vibe. Go with strong color choices or muted color tones it's all up to you.

Dramatic Black & White of Roman Fountain

6. Erase Blemishes

You've spent so much time getting the shots, picking out your favorite ones, color correcting, adjusting tones and creating a mood for your photo why ruin it with some person taking a photo in the background with their iPad. ( I mean really why an iPad its the so annoying to carry around let alone try and get a photo with it). If you are using Lightroom mobile or have Adobe Photoshop it is super easy to get rid of distractions. Whether that be people or that pimple that just had to show up ( happens to me ALL the time). The spot healer and clone tool are super easy to use just go over the area you want to get rid of and it will 9/10 times get rid of it. There might be some additional touch-ups you will need to do.

Empty Mercer Botanic Garden

7. Crop and Adjust your photos

This may not seem like an important tip but if you are putting this much effort in why not pay close attention to detail. If you want to be a serious photographer and show off your work it's the little things that will really set you apart from beginner photographers. Imagine you have the perfect shot from your backpacking trip everything is perfect the colors, the framing, you've got the right feeling you want from the photo, you are ready to share but you see the Horizon is just slightly off. Again not a big deal, but when you adjust that and crop the photo just so that what you want to show off and the horizon is just right that is what sets it apart. Adjusting small things that you think no one is going to notice gives that little bit of editorial eye to the photo. It shows you are dedicated to making this photo into your own artwork. So adjust and crop your photos!

*A note on cropping, you are sharing your photo to Instagram you might have to crop your photo to fit into the square or now they offer a portrait and landscape option but cropping out certain things can save editing time. Highlight the most important thing in the photo, use the Rule of thirds to draw the viewers eye. This way you might not have to take the photo into photoshop or something similar to remove people or unwanted objects in the photo just crop them out.

Wide Angle of the Duomo in Florence (cropped the bottom where all the people were walking)


This is my last real tip, less is always more when it comes to editing a photo. You might be tempted to filter the heck out of it, smoothing your skin, make the sky a deep blue, oversaturating the colors, adding a cool film filter, etc. But when it comes to travel photos specifically you want the viewer to really see the place and show off the beauty of it. We can tell when something just doesn't look right or when there's a heavy vignette on the photo. There is nothing wrong with stylizing your photo that's what shows off you as a photographer, and your subject matter, but what you want to remember is that too much can be distracting and displeasing to the eye. You want to keep things simple and really let your photographer's eye shine through. Edits and filters are meant to enhance not take away from the photo. Experiment and see what editing techniques work for you and create a sort of workflow for your photos to make for quick and easy edits in the future.

Simple & Clean Edit of Lola

9. Use a FREE editing software like Lightroom

There are lots of free or limited free Softwares, lightroom, a color story, vsco, etc. that will enhance your photos. I personally use Lightroom and Lightroom mobile (which is free!) They offer a variety of settings and tools I use to make fast edits, and when you are taking a bunch of shots (which is something I definitely recommend when shooting) this program comes in handy. Another advantage to Lightroom is you can find and download free or for purchase lightroom presets. This will make your edits even quicker! I personally use presets from 123presets. they always have sales running and their presets are easy to use and adjust. Keep in mind that you might still have to make slight adjustments when using a preset.

Unedited Photo

Edited Photo Using 123Preset -Mandarin

10. Have Fun!

As with anything have fun, this doesn't need to be serious or a million steps. Once you get the photo you want with these simple tips post away! It's your creative eye you are showing off so stay true to your style.

Standby for more tips!

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