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Digital photos straight out of the camera are a bit like newborns: You definitely want to clean ’em up before you show ’em.  

It’s all done on a computer now, but processing is nothing new. Ansel Adams didn’t just plop his negatives into a few bowls of chemicals and call it a day. He tinkered with every image he printed.  

Editing skills remain a must for photographers. Fortunately, Lightroom provides a dry, sophisticated, and much-better-smelling means to make the most of your images. 

At first, I was reluctant to try it.  But after working with it a little, it feels as natural as pulling the camera up to my eye and looking through the viewfinder. 

Here are a few things I think you should know…

A little knowledge goes a long way

Truth be told, you don’t have to be a genius to use Lightroom.  In most cases, a little manipulation goes a long way toward making an average photo pop.  

Simple corrections take just seconds to learn.   You can go deeper if you want to.  But most of your editing is done in seconds, not minutes or hours.

Lightroom leads to organization 

One thing that many new photographers overlook – that is, until they’re swamped with images — is the importance of workflow and organization.  I had thousands of files spread around several computers and memory cards like confetti at a party. With Lightroom, everything is organized and easy to find.  A big bonus benefit of using the program.

Lightroom does not change your photos

Confused? So was I. One of the biggest benefits of using Lightroom to process your photos is that no edit is permanent.  

If your last change turned everything green, just undo it. You can reverse anything and everything, even after you save it because Lightroom never saves over your original photograph.  It’s great.  

A word of caution, though: When you’re having fun, it’s easy to go overboard and make your vacation to Florida look like a trip to Oz with your “oompa loompa” orange-faced family with sparkly white teeth.  

Over-used effects aren’t impressive. Edit with intent if you want people to take your work seriously. Having a good instructor helps you discern when and how to use various functions, so you’ll know when enough is enough.  It made all the difference for me.

I’m now starting to sell my photos as fine art. In one juried exhibition, my photo won the People’s Choice award, which I’ll take over a blue ribbon any day. Well, at least until the day I actually get a blue ribbon.  Good luck!

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[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, Profit From Your Photos: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]

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