How to ​edit​ in Photoshop

Want to learn how to edit in Photoshop?

Here’s the deal. During our last photoshoot for ​Blomverket​, me and my sisters-in-law (aka my business partners and right hand ladies) shot a “breakfast in bed” scene that would serve as an ad for Valentine’s Day. (To answer your question: yes, it was just as adorable and fun as it sounds! 😜)

Anyways, I personally loved how it turned out and wanted to write a little step-by-step guide demonstrating how I created the ambiance for the scene, worked my *magic* in Photoshop on the photos afterwards, and applied some super useful tips and tricks that I’ve learned along the way. Let’s get to it! ​

The ​setup

For this particular scene, we wanted it to look like the photos were taken in bed. The light in my bedroom just wasn’t going to cut it, so we simply took the bed linen and moved it as close to the window as possible to capture the glow of some good ol’ fashioned natural daylight.

When setting up the background, we made sure to style it in a way that looked comfy and natural. For those of you that have completed my ​Photography & Styling Masterclass​, you know the importance of creating depth in photos, ESPECIALLY while taking flatlays! Photos taken from above often end up looking boring and two-dimensional, so let me go ahead and give you a cheeky trick of the trade: fold and crease the fabric so that it not only creates beautiful shadows, but it gives the “bed” the authentic look of actually having been laid in. I mean, just look at the difference it makes in these two pics! Am I right or am I right?! 😜

Also, if you take a look at this set of pics, you might pick up on another cool trick I incorporated: I placed a blank card in the scene so that I can add whatever text I want afterwards. Sneaky, huh? 😉

Edit & retouch in ​Photoshop

Now that we’re all done with the set up, let’s go through how I made these pics really POP using Photoshop (…hey, that rhymed!). Sometimes, I’ll do most of the editing directly in ​Camera RAW​ or Lightroom since it tends to be easier and faster. However, I’ve already covered that topic in my free 5-days photography course​, so let’s approach it from a different angle this time, where we edit in Photoshop, shall we?

1. Duplicate the background

The first thing I do before I do ANYTHING else is duplicate my original layer so that I can go back and compare my changes to the original version at any time. I do this by dragging the first layer (which will be labeled “Background”) to the (+) icon in the lower right corner.

2. Change the perspective

Okay. We can officially, OFFICIALLY get started. Next, I slightly change the proportions of the photo since it looks like the bed is a bit tilted. To do this, I go to the upper menu and select Edit -> Transform -> Perspective. I then drag the blue lines and/or the white dots until I’m happy with the way it looks.

3. Increase the contrast

Then, to create a darker, more intimate feel to the photo, I decide to increase the contrast. To achieve this, I head over to “Adjustment Layers.” (Note: If you haven’t heard of or used adjustment layers​ before, I highly recommend you take some time to learn it! It’s such a powerful tool and, in the end, I can 100% guarantee it will be worth an hour or two of your time. You can find a super helpful tutorial about this ​here​). To create a new “adjustment layer,” you click the icon in the lower right corner then select “Brightness/Contrast”. In my case, I create a new layer then set Contrast to 15.

4. Retouch the cuppuccino

Next, I want to make my cup of coffee look like a cappuccino (‘cause what says “cute Valentine’s date” better than a cappuccino?). I tried to accomplish the swirly, foamy look during the photoshoot, but, as you can see, I completely failed — where is a barista when you need one?! 😉 Anyways… that’s where a little cheating in Photoshop comes in! So, when I do retouching like this, I normally pick a royalty fee photo from sites like Pexels or Unsplash (t​his​ is the picture I used this time). Then, I select the part of the photo that I want and copy it into my own photo as a new layer that I title “cappuccino”.

I then add a layer mask​ to the “cappuccino” layer by clicking the icon in the lower right corner. Next, I select the brush tool and a black color to paint the areas in my layer mask that I don’t want in my photo.

I move the cappuccino to the right place and change the size of it with “Free Transform” (in the “Edit” menu or shortcut: Cmd + T) to match the coffee cup. Then, I lower the opacity a little bit to make it blend in more nicely.

5. Write something on the card

Next step is to write something on the blank card. (Remember how I left this blank for a reason?). For this, I use the “Text tool”. Then, I scale and rotate the text with “Free Transform” (Cmd + T) to help it fit nice and snug on the card. I mean, cmon… can we talk about how real this looks?! 😉

6. Use Gradient Map to shift the vibe

This next step gives my photo the extra kick it needs. I want to add a new adjustment layer/Gradient Map (from black to white) to really shift the vibe to better suit the intimate, romantic vision I’m trying to create. Just keep in mind that, at first, the image looks black and white, but after I change the blending mode from “Normal” to “Soft Light,” it quickly brings back that pop of color. Then, to make sure the effect isn’t too strong, I lower the opacity of the layer just a smidge.

7. Final color adjustments

Well, this is it– the editing in Photoshop is almost finité! As a last step, I might adjust the color balance (adjustment layer) to make sure it blends right in with my ​Instagram feed​ (…’cause, DUH — aesthetics! 😉).

Add some ​storytelling

Just because I know you all wanted an encore ​😉, let me throw in a few more tid bits that I could have incorporated into the photo to appeal to my audience even ​further.​

In my ​Photography & Styling Masterclass, ​I teach several strategies on how to use photography to tell a story. One of the most sure-fire ways of accomplishing this is to make the viewer feel like they are right there on the scene. Yup, I literally mean ​right there. ​The person looking at your photo should feel like they have been plopped down in the middle of the photo, taking in the scenery with all of their senses. Smelling all the scents, tasting all the treats, feeling all the feels. ​Everything.​ An efficient way of doing is to arrange the cake as if someone is taking a bite from it ​right​ as the photo is being captured. Just like this…

Another way would be to include the hands of someone that is ​just​ about to take a nice, warm sip of that oh-so-perfect cappuccino. Why, you might ask? Because a human element in a photo is always a great way to help the viewer visualize themselves as the main character in the story you’re telling.

Well, that’s all for this time! Drop a comment below if you found my tips and tricks useful on how to edit in Photoshop OR if there’s anything particular you’d like a tutorial on for next time! Happy editing in Photoshop! 😊

Learn more about how to edit in Photoshop

If you want to edit your photos in Photoshop but you don’t have Adobe  Photoshop you can sign up for a free trial here. I’ve received a couple of questions on which plan I use and that’s the one called “Photography (20GB)”, which includes both Photoshop and Lightroom. In case you use any other software from Adobe you might want to sign up for another plan.

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