How to take your senior pictures: Case Study-Part 3

If you missed part one or part two of this case study, I highly recommend you go back and read those quickly.

We continue to follow our DIY Senior Picture family on their journey of taking DIY Senior pictures.  Here, the Dad, Scott delves into the editing process.  But before we get too into that, I think we need to cover some details about photo editing.

Editing your photos are one of the most daunting and intimidating tasks for the new photographer.  It does not have to be.  Let me tell you a quick story.

Several years ago, when I was spending every spare second of my spare time learning about photography, I joined a local camera club.  We would have monthly meetings at the local library.  During these meetings, other professional photogs would come in and give presentations about their photography.  There was one presentation that really sticks out in my mind from all of those photography nerd meetings I went attended.

I always had a feeling that I editing photos was what made the real difference in photography.  I still do.  This guy that came in to give us a talk did the usual.  He gave us a presentation of many portraits he had taken.  I was blown away by the dreaminess of his portraits! I had found it, I had found the guy that was taking the pictures that I wanted to take.  I could not let him get out of there without grilling him with a few questions!

He finished his presentation and I started in…  I thought that I had better ease in to my questions so I don’t look too dorky and overbearing so I started with, “Your portraits look so good with the colors and dreaminess, what is your editing workflow?”  After all, nothing gets people going by giving them a compliment first, right? He gave me everything I wanted to know in that single answer.  I paraphrase his answer below.

” You know, I am not really that well versed in Photoshop.  I think it is very complicated and hard to learn. If I spent all of my time trying to learn Photoshop, I would not be out shooting and making any income.  So I use a plugin called Nik Color Efex.  I first fix any technical cropping issues and spot fix any areas.  Then I open the photo in Color Efex and bump the contrast to make the colors pop.  Then I add any other filters that I need to get the mood of the image”

Wow, here I thought I found the Photoshop master.  He admitted he was not.  He used a plugin to simplify all of that complexity for him.  Wow, I did not even know that this ease of use existed! Here I was wasting time trying to figure all of this out complexity and here he was making income without mastering Photoshop.  This guy was brilliant!  I learned a valuable lesson that day, spend some money and make your life easier.

That was about ten years ago.  A lot has changed.  Adobe now came out with a product called Lightroom.  Lightroom is a photo specific editor.  It is not a pixel editor like Photoshop.  It is much easier to use with sliders in the different modules.  Don’t get me wrong, you can’t go in and replace a sky or add other objects to your photo in Lightroom.  You still need Photoshop for that.  If you are serious about photography, I suggest you buy the Photoshop/Lightroom bundle at for about $10 per month.  If you are not ready for that yet, there are other options.

Look out on the web, there are many free editing web applications.  One of those are  You see, as with all technology, things are changing fast.  Editing has become as simple as applying filters.  Don’t get me wrong, filters are nice and quick, but if you want to take your portraits to the next level, you will need to learn a few more basic editing moves such as spot healing, contrast adjustments, skin softening, etc.  We cover all of these in our video courses and on many of the articles here at

Now let’s get back to our case study.  The dad Scott used Pixlr on the web and Adobe Lightroom on his PC.  The good thing about Adobe products is you can pay by the month.  If you decide you will not use them again, you can cancel them when you are finished.  I bet you will catch the photo bug like many of us and continue to use them!

The best way to describe editing a photo is with a video.  We created a basic Pixlr editing tutorial for you and show you how to do basic edits with a senior portrait.

Below is the before picture:



Below in the next photo is our completed edit from the video.  Notice how we cropped the photo, did some contrast adjustments and a little spot removal.  We also added a slight vignette affect to darken the corners.

After editing with pixlr


Now, how did we do it?  We show you exactly how in this free video!


In the next case study article we will show you how to use a more professional editing application, Adobe Lightroom.  After that, we will have a brief interview with the case study family so you can see the inside view of taking DIY Senior Pictures.

On to Part 4…

What is your biggest barrier to taking DIY senior pictures?  Put it in the comments below and let’s discuss it.  Be sure to go over and join our Facebook group and connect with other DIY senior picture people!  Please help us get the word out about DIY Senior Pictures, share it on your favorite social media platform or just tell a friend!

Thanks for being a part of DIY Senior Pictures.  Need more immediate help?  Need a step by step process?  Check out our latest Kindle books.  Why not check out our bonus video section too?  Leave a comment and let's discuss your photo concerns.  Talk to you soon.

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