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Portrait Photography Fundamentals

Lesson 52 of 61

Ten Keys to Post-Processing


Portrait Photography Fundamentals

Lesson 52 of 61

Ten Keys to Post-Processing


Lesson Info

Ten Keys to Post-Processing

So let's get into 10 Keys to Post Processing. One, you gotta amplify the main focus of the photo. That's the thing, and great photos that have impact, there's one idea there - bam! You see it and it's conveyed immediately. That's impact. When you look at the photo and go, oh, what's he trying to do there? Where am I looking at? Oh, okay, there it is - zero impact. So you use your post processing to focus somebody's attention onto what you want them to look at first. And then arrange all the other elements to complement what you're trying to focus. Okay, so how do you do that? One, you eliminate or reduce the distracting elements. Okay? You could influence the viewer to see the entire frame of the picture. That's what you want to do. And so that's where cropping comes in, it's like, okay, you gotta see some dead spots in your image and go, okay, I need to crop that because those aren't really adding to the picture and I'm losing impact with that in there, so let's crop that out so more ...

of the focus is right here. Okay? But at the same time you do want them to focus on that one specific part, but then you want every single pixel in that frame them to look at. So, what you gotta do is say, boom, look at this first and then oh, look at all these other things that complement that. And the more things that you use to complement and add vision or add meaning to that main thing, the better the photo is. And it takes a lot of skill to really have a picture that does that well. Okay? So, four, create mood or feel. And that's what you can do with post processing by changing the tone of things, right, enhancing the lighting. Lighting is probably the number one thing that can change the mood. You could have the same client there but put different lighting on it and bam, it can be a completely different mood. Right, and then on top of that, post processing can do that on top of that. Extend your creative vision. I talked about that in the beginning. And that's really important to separate yourself. Now you can't, what I'm doing here, like if you're shooting a wedding, you can't do it on every single wedding. Picture, that's just like insane. Some client wanted me to do that. I go, that would be like $200,000 a wedding. (laughs) That's not a bad idea. But (laughs) These are just like generally - I'm not getting into basics and anything like that, I'm getting into like, hey, you want to make this into a signature piece, right, with your heart and soul in it and make it unique to you, and so post processing is a must for that. Today's photography, okay, today's photography is simply just not taking the picture in camera and then say, here. It's really what you do with post too. And it's more and more of the post is getting involved with it. And it's okay, it's okay. I know some of us who are in the film dance fighting it, but it's okay that way because you know what, it's extending your vision, right? The people who complain about that say, "Well, I just wanted to learn this part in film and then now you're adding that part. That's not fair." Why would you say something's not fair when it allows you to extend your creative vision? Right? And so you gotta embrace it, and there becomes a point where you gotta say this is what it is, maybe I should learn it. You know, maybe I should buy a few Creative Live classes on it, you know? And again, sometimes if you have great fear about this, you learn a few things here and you make a difference in your photos, you get excited about it. It's just like lighting. Like I show people how to use the one flash - Oh my gosh, that's so amazing! And they get totally hooked by it, but they were scared to death of it in the beginning. Right? So it's just part of what photography is now. So we have to embrace this and go with it. Perfection. Perfection creates timeless images. Okay? So that's what we all want to do with our images, we want things that we can look over and over and over again, and as we develop as photographers and artists, the pictures that are more perfect are the ones that we can look at that last forever. So if you go to all the great museums in the world and you see those photos that have been around hundreds of thousands of years, it's basically because there's some perfection in that photo that's executed extremely well. And it's perfect, so you can just keep looking at it over and over and over again. Like great sculpture. They take years to develop it but it looks exactly like the human form, or even better than the human form, and you're like, wow, over and over and over, right, again. Like David, right, in Italy. Anybody go see that? Even though some things they say like his wrists or his forearm is too long or whatever, but people just come by the droves and go, wow, I wish my butt looked that way, that's awesome. (laughs) Okay, post editing. You know what it is? It's a million micro adjustments. It's not one, you know what, just buy these actions, bam, there it is, perfect image. Every image is so different, if you're really gonna make that image sing and make it perfect, you've got a million micro adjustments all over the place, and when you add all those million micro adjustments up it's like, there's your picture. Okay? So it's tedious, yeah. It can be very tedious. But it's making something perfect, so what do you wanna do? We can't make things perfect overnight, it takes time. Okay? Here, key: when you have an image, especially if you're gonna submit to competition or something like this, here's one of the key things. You've gotta have details in the darks and you have details in the highlights. And make sure - not unless, you know, it's intentionally supposed to be all black background, and that's fine. But in general for a picture you've gotta have some details in the darks and details in the highlights. So when I shoot I'd rather be on a little bit of the dark side because I don't want to blow those highlights out. I can always bring back the darks and get some detail back into it, but if you blow out the highlights then you've gotta recreate some information and you know, I've done that plenty of times, trust me. (laughs) So, okay, here's another key thing. Eyes will focus on the brightest and the sharpest elements. So when you're trying to make your focus on that image, it's gotta be the brightest and the sharpest usually. Not unless you're doing some avant garde thing and maybe not. But in general. And so how do you tell that? Well, you just take a look at the picture and you kind of squint like this, and whatever just like pops out at you first, that's where that's the brightest point. Okay? Another way too, let's say you're working on Lightroom and they have that small thumbnail over to the left. If you look at an image really small, you see what's the brightest point. Because it has to reduce everything down into simplified form, so that's - a lot of time, when I'm not sure about the balance, I go over there and look at the small icon over there, that little sample image, and I go, oh okay, yeah, not quite bright enough or too bright or whatever. I use that a lot of times.

Class Description

Want to be able to go into any situation with your camera and have the confidence to know you’ll get the shot? Award-Winning photographer Scott Robert Lim goes in-depth on the four foundational elements you must conquer if you want to develop your creativity and style.

Scott will give you the guidelines you need to master:

  • Lighting
  • Posing
  • Composition
  • Post-Processing

Once you master these fundamentals of portraits, you free up your mind to get creative and ultimately get the shot.


  1. Class Introduction
  2. 5 Shots That WOW
  3. Four Fundamentals of Photography
  4. Create a Visual Impact with Composition
  5. Importance of Foreground and Background
  6. Create Depth in Landscape Images
  7. Photos Don't Always Follow the Rules
  8. Composition Practice Exercise
  9. Composition Critique of Student Images
  10. Keys to Posing
  11. Shoot: Classic Elegance Female Pose
  12. Shoot: Modern Female Pose
  13. Shoot: Rollover Female Pose
  14. Female Hands & Arms Poses Overview
  15. Shoot: Hands and Arms Poses for Female
  16. Seven Posing Guidelines
  17. Headshots Poses with Male Model
  18. Shoot: Headshot for Male Model
  19. Shoot: Sitting Poses for Male Model
  20. Shoot: Leaning Poses for Male Model
  21. Shoot: Standing Poses for Male Model
  22. Keys to Couples Posing
  23. Shoot: Couples Posing
  24. Couples Transitional Posing Overview
  25. Shoot: Transitional Posing
  26. Keys to Group Posing
  27. Accordion Technique with Groups
  28. Shoot: Accordion Technique
  29. Shoot: Best Buds Pose
  30. Shoot: Talk with Your Hands Pose
  31. Shoot: Lock Arms and Hold Hands Pose
  32. Run at the Camera and Dance in Your Seat Poses
  33. Shoot: Pod Method Pose
  34. Posing Critique of Student Images
  35. Introduction to Lighting
  36. Soft vs Hard Light
  37. Difficult Lighting Situations
  38. Bright Light Techniques
  39. Overcast Light Techniques
  40. Low Light Techniques
  41. Lighting Techniques Q&A
  42. Drama Queen Lighting
  43. Laundry Basket Lighting
  44. Make it Rain Lighting
  45. Smart Phone Painting with Light
  46. Mini LED Bokeh Lighting
  47. Choose the Right Lighting System
  48. Hybrid Flash System
  49. Innovative Accessories
  50. Gear Overview
  51. Theatrical Post-Processing
  52. Ten Keys to Post-Processing
  53. Essential Skills to Post-Processing
  54. Headshot Post-Processing
  55. Bright Light Post-Processing
  56. Flat Light Post-Processing
  57. Low Light Post-Processing
  58. Introduction to Fine Art Post-Processing
  59. Light & Airy Fine Art Post-Processing
  60. Dark & Moody Fine Art Post-Processing
  61. Post-Processing Critique of Student Images


Vitor Rademaker

This course is amazing! Scott is extremely straightforward. He goes directly to practical problems, tips and etc. He explains every thing very clearly, and he is also very funny and charismatic, making you laugh as you learn. He shows that you don't need a lot of expensive gear to make very nice pictures. So I have saved some money as well, cause I was about to buy some gear that I wouldn't need right now. It is for sure one of the best photography courses I have ever attended to! I highly recommend! Thanks a lot Scott! You are the best!


I have purchased a number of classes, this being one of them. The quality of the information was good and the level at which Scott spoke was appropriate for me. Having a course sylibus would add greatly to the value, which usually is not part of the programs I've purchased including this one, unless I've missed it. I believe the speaker should be required to provide one. After watching the videos, much of material can be recaptured by seeing it in writing. I would like to hear back from Creativelive their thoughts. In sum, good topic, good speaker, good technical audio and video quality by Creativelive


Another fantastic class with Scott Robert Lim! The combination of his knowledge, willingness to share, passion & entertaining personality makes him a top choice for photography education. Learning not only the "what", but the "why" & "how" can transform one's entire approach towards MAKING pictures. A constant inspiration to get better & better through practice.