How to Edit a Picture: A Beginner’s Guide

How to Edit a Picture: A Beginner's Guide

When you think of editing pictures, you probably think of the incredible masterpieces that digital photographers can create, like movie posters or stationary ads. Or you may think of the liberal (and often overdone and goofy) use of Photoshop on models and celebrities in print media. Either way, it’s clear that learning how to edit photos like a pro is a useful skill.

Our beginner’s guide will show you everything you need to know about the photo editing process from start to finish. We’ll examine everything from programs to techniques.

You’re Likely Already Using Digital Editing

SmartphoneFun fact: If you post selfies or food pics on visual social media, you’re already using digital photo editing! The cropping, filters, sharpness, and light balance adjustments available by default in Instagram or even your phone’s default OS are, technically speaking, editing features.

That’s not to say that you can slap “professional photo editor” onto your resume because you know how to navigate Instagram. Rather, it’s to illustrate that you may already have some basic idea of how to edit and retouch photos.

What Programs Can You Use?

So, what programs can you use to edit pictures? Well, it depends on how much you’re willing to pay and what features you need to use. For instance, if you need a background remover, that’s typically a premium feature that will require paying for a subscription or the program itself. (However, Adobe did recently make that option available for free online!)

The main programs dominating the scene for photo editing today are:

  • Adobe Photoshop/Photoshop Express
  • GIMP
  • Luminar
  • Canva

These programs offer a variety of retouching, color grading, and compositing features.

Remember to Crop and Clean

When you first learn how to edit a picture, finding the right starting point can be tricky. Image cropping is the first major step that you should take, as it can clean visual clutter from the image and ensure that your eyes focus on the actual subject of the picture. Cropping can make a shot more dynamic or even create an off-putting atmosphere if you want to change the vibe.

Remember: No One Notices Good Editing

Woman with laptopYou want your edits to blend in. A good photograph edit looks like it hasn’t been adjusted at all. A bad photograph edit looks like you slapped a filter or a blur on top.

If You Can, Use RAW Files

Lastly, remember that your picture quality can affect your ability to edit it. If you have the choice, use RAW files over JPEGS, as RAW files are higher quality and less likely to experience pixelation when you make adjustments. Taking RAW pictures is as simple as enabling a setting on your phone.

Want to Learn More About How to Edit Photos?

We hope that this guide gave you a jumping-off point in learning how to edit photos. Remember, you know more than you think you do. Cropping and image composition are key. No one spots a good edit, and the sooner you learn how to use RAW files, the better.

Would you like to learn more about digital editing? If so, check out the Articles section of our blog today!

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