I love taking shots of people! And ’tis the season for my holiday shoots, which means photographing children, and they are quick—which, as I usually shoot in manual mode, also means that sometimes I’m not ready for a great candid shot.

I love Lightroom, however. Editing on this easy-to-use software is my second-favorite part of shooting, as it can help rescue a photo that I wasn’t prepared for or need to adjust to get it where it needs to be.

In the example below, I had just moved my clients to a different location, with different light—and had not adjusted my settings yet. As you can see, my client’s daughter was ready to dash! It made for a cute picture, so I grabbed it!

I love the expression. The challenge is that it came out too dark and the composition could be better.

How to rescue a photo in Lighroom

Shooting in RAW allows me to have better control when processing my images in Lightroom. Especially with things like fixing shadows and highlights. A RAW file retains much more data and integrity than a JPG, so if I overexpose or underexpose a photo, Lightroom can save it.

To fix this image, I adjusted the exposure slider, then moved the highlight slider up to +15. I love using the shadows slider, too, and increased it to +60. This adds contrast and “pop” to an image.

Here it is after these adjustments:

How to rescue a photo in Lighroom

My final adjustment was to crop the image to remove the distracting brown gate at the end of the hallway, and move my clients closer to the thirds line. I also used the graduated filter tool to lighten the shadows at the bottom left and top right by adjusting the exposure slider.



Here’s the end (much better) result:

How to rescue a photo in Lighroom

It’s usually the candid shots that turn out to be the best of a shoot, capturing real emotion and fun. That’s why Lightroom is so important—because real things happen fast, and you can’t always have the exact settings dialed in when they do.

Happy Holidays and have fun taking those holiday shots! If you run into lighting and or composition issues, know that Lightroom is your friend—and these are only a fraction of its many uses.

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