A photo portrait being edited in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5

Make Your Portraits Pop with Lightroom 5

By Terry White

No matter how good a photographer you are or how picture-ready your subject is, most portrait shots benefit from a little cleanup once they're on your computer. It doesn't have to take long — just a few minutes can be all you need to remove blemishes, fix color casts, sharpen important details, and more.

Before (top) and after (bottom).  

While Adobe Photoshop CC is a fine tool for this kind of editing, I often turn to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5. If you haven't tried Lightroom before, you may be surprised by how intuitive it is. And because it's part of Adobe Creative Cloud, you don't have to buy to try.


When I'm editing a photo of a person, I usually begin with global adjustments — that is, edits that affect the entire image. Figure 1 (to the right, top image) shows an original image from one of my recent shoots. It's a little dark, and some of the background elements are distracting. By making some global adjustments to the white balance and cropping the entire image, you can solve both of those issues.

Once you make some global adjustments, you can move on to local adjustments, which let you fine-tune the image by affecting specific portions of it. For example, this model has a few blemishes. Use the Spot Removal tool in Lightroom to quickly and convincingly remove them.

You can also add drama to a subject's eyes with a couple of tricks. Remove redness with the Adjustment Brush. And drag the Radial Filter tool across the iris to saturate the eye color and pump up sharpness and clarity.

The before and after images show the impressive results of these quick edits.

For step-by-step instructions on how to perform all of these adjustments, watch the following video:


If you’re new to Lightroom, you can get up to speed quickly by watching Creative Cloud tutorials. You will also find plenty of how-tos for experienced users.

March 1, 2014