Have you ever looked at a really well done professional portrait and thought to yourself, “Wow, that photographer must be really good to take photos like that!” Well, you’re right. A certain level of skill is required to take a great picture. However, what you may not realize is a photo rarely comes straight out of the camera looking as professional as what you see in the final image.

One of the magic tools that can transform your pictures into beautiful professional portraits is Lightroom.

Here’s one example of a high school senior portrait. The before picture is straight out of the camera. It has nice composition, but just doesn’t have that “pop” that makes a portrait look professional.

BEFORE                                                         AFTER

A few simple tone adjustments in Lightroom, and now you have a much better looking image in the AFTER.

Once you have your basics adjusted, it’s time to get creative. Lightroom includes an amazing collection of presets to experiment with to your heart’s content. And because Lightroom is non-destructive, you can play all you want and know that you can always go back to the original if you don’t like what you see.

With the touch of a single button, you can create that “wow factor,” transforming your images from plain to professional. In this case, that one button is the Lightroom Preset—“Creamtone.” I love the classic old-school feel it gives this image.

When I took the below picture, I really wanted to capture the rustic feel of the location, but I knew I couldn’t achieve it without the help of Lightroom.

BEFORE                                                         AFTER

After some basic tone and sharpening adjustments, I processed this image with a Lightroom Preset called “Red Lift Matte.” I love how the bleached and faded look, combined with the detail in the wood texture sets the mood of this image.

Lightroom also allows me to be super efficient in the event photography side of my business. When photographing a reception in a dark venue, the challenge is always getting a consistent looking set of images for the clients’ album. Here’s an example from a bat mitzvah party.

As you can see, the image is a bit dark and dull straight out of the camera, and very crooked!

In just minutes, I processed this image in Lightroom by warming up the temperature, adjusting the tone (shadows, highlights, whites, and blacks), straightening, and adding clarity and sharpness. So much better.

But when you’re dealing with hundreds of event images, processing them one by one in Lightroom could be very time-consuming. The solution—Lightroom’s “Sync” feature.

After I’ve processed one image the way I like it, I select all the photos I took in similar lighting and hit the “Sync” button which copies all the adjustments from that first photo to the rest of my selections. One button and done!

Creating professional-looking pictures starts with knowing how to take a good photo, but it doesn’t end there. And it doesn’t mean you have to spend hours learning complicated programs like Photoshop either. Processing your images in Lightroom gives you the ability to add that “wow factor” in minutes, and see your own creative vision come to life.

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can fund your travels and make an extra income with photography, travel writing, blogging, and more in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel. Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Three Fun Ways To Get Paid To Travel: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]

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