Touch-Up Tuesday: Bridal Portraits
My husband’s cousin and I went to college together. In fact, my husband and I met on MySpace (you remember myspace, right?) after he saw me as a friend on her page. I remember that Sayrah was a little shocked that my husband was able to convince me to go out with him…or something to that effect. Anyways, Sayrah has recently started her own blog: Dress Your Best…For Less - she’s got a natural eye for fashion…and for finding the look for less, so check her out. 

While visiting the family a couple of weekends ago, we talked “shop” for a little while and she mentioned that she’d love for me to work my magic on a couple of her bridal portraits. Now, I normally wouldn’t touch another photographer’s work but I know there are a number of ladies out there that would love to touch up some of their bridal and/or wedding photos…and I’d love to be able to share a few tricks with you. Here is the original:
Sarah Bridal 2 Before DO NOT COPY
There’s really nothing wrong with this picture – it’s clear that the photographer was using natural light and kept her processing pretty simple. However, it’d be great to brighten up her whole face. So, I opened the photo in Adobe Camera Raw. I auto corrected the white balance and adjusted the settings: 
  • Recovery: 2
  • Brightness: +51
  • Contrast: -25
I then opened the photo in Photoshop Elements and adjusted the curves. If you’re using Photoshop Elements, you will need to download a curves action. I recommend Grants Tools. His tools will also give you layer masks (you can also download layer masks through Coffeeshop Photography).

Click HERE for my Getting Started tutorial – it will direct you to a number of other actions and tools you may find helpful during the editing process. I am in the process of replacing one of my steps (Squeaky Clean – no longer a freebie, so I need to replace that step for all of my readers).
Sarah Bridal 2 Before 1
Anyways, I should have done a screen capture of the curves action. Typically, I want to pull down the left side just a little and pull up the right side to balance out the light. In some cases, you may overshoot. Fortunately, you will have a layer masks to remove the effect from part of the photo. Remember this: 

WHITE LAYER MASK = Use BLACK brush to paint OFF the effect. 
BLACK LAYER MASK = Use WHITE brush to paint ON the effect.

As you can see above…on the right I’ve included a blank white layer mask. On the left, you can see that I’ve painted off part of the adjustment I’ve made. From that point, I adjusted the levels to again focus on brightening up the left side of her face. The right side of her face is still overexposed, but we will correct that in a couple of steps.
Sarah Bridal 2 Before 2
I typically adjust all of my photos on these levels for a brighter feel to my photos (unless I’m going for some sort of dramatic effect). 

Next, I used Morgan Kervin’s Eye Love Sparkle effect. I’ve included the layers below to reinforce the concept that if you have a BLACK layer mask, you will paint ON the effect using a WHITE brush. Another piece of advice…keep your brush opacities low. I recommend using something in the range of 30% opacity and then using the layer to even further the opacity for a gentle effect.
ScreenHunter_04 Sep. 13 19.11
I then did something that I haven’t done in months…I decided to use Coffeeshop Photography’s Baby PowderRoom action. Rita also has a regular PowderRoom action, but I have always loved using the Baby version. Moderation is really key when using PowderRoom. Use light opacity brushes and lower your opacities for a desired effect…otherwise, your photos will look heavy handed…and no body wants that. I decided it would be helpful to share what that might look like (disclosure – I was trying to reproduce my original edit, so this isn’t exactly what I did with my after shot below, but close). 

A few of you have asked for more information regarding layers. The great thing about layers is that each layer applies a specific effect to the photo. If you don’t like the effect…you can simply delete the layer without majorly affecting the photo. Heck, if you don’t like a series of layers, you can select them all and delete to get back to your original photo. For more on layers, I found this book – Layers: The Complete Guide to Photoshop’s Most Powerful Feature. 
ScreenHunter_05 Sep. 13 19.19
To finalize Sayrah’s photo, I used Amy McMaster’s Berries N’ Cream action (if you’ve paid any attention to my blog, you know this is one of my favorites). I typically lower the berries and raw sugar layers and remove any effect from the eyes. I merged those layers…created a duplicate layer and then used the duplicate layer to burn around her face (and in the corners) until I was satisfied. I also used another duplicate layer, set to soft light (black layer mask) and painted over her lips to bring them out just a hint.

So, without further discussion…here is the before and after. What do you think?
Sarah Bridal 2 Before and After

And just for fun…here is another one of her photos.
Sarah Bridal 1 Before and After

What questions do you have? 

For more Touch-Up Tuesday, go to: 
Photography love...

    Great edits, they look tonnes better.

    And I met my partner on Myspace too, as old and lame as it gets it’ll always be a bit special!

    WOW!!! Love them both. Great Job. Thanks for walking us through the steps!

    Great edits! Definitely brightens up her gorgeous face! Now that I know PS, I’ve been dying to retouch some of my own wedding photos. Just too darn lazy to do it ;o) One of these, I’m sure!

    Wow, great job Ashley. They both look much better. Thanks for sharing your PS steps.

    I like that you are doing these tutorials! The looks so much better and wow, what a gorgeous dress!!! :)

    You did a great job on both of these!! And and I agree with Casey – what a beautiful dress!

    Oh so beautiful Ashley!!! I liked the before, but the after is just so much lighter, & her eyes pop!!!! And thank you for writing out a tutorial on how to do it!!

    WOW, grate job, you deffently made them pop.

    Stellar results….You rock!!!

    love how you met your husband! …and I personally like your edits much better, awesome job!

    Very beautiful! You can’t tell she has blue eyes in the before.

    WONDERFUL tutorial. It’s amazing. I still have so much to learn in photo editing!

    Such an amazing difference Ashley.
    What a beautiful work you did on these!

    Gorgeous!!! Bride n your work :)

    Great job! She looks like a whole new woman! :-)

    Wow! I really love your touch ups! Her whole face is ridiculously brightened after your edits! Seems pretty simple, too! I wish I had more time to learn Photoshop. It sucks because I like too many things.

    Beautiful touch ups! I have learned so much from you in these little tutorials. Thank you!

    It’s a beautiful touch up.

    Love how you made her skin lighter and eyes pop! Thanks for the tutorial!

    You made a beautiful girl even more beautiful–spectacular edits!

    Great job. You made her skin look wonderful!

    Great job!


    What a beautiful bride and gorgeous photos! I think you did a great job! I really like what you did with the originals!

    Wow!! That’s amazing. Her skin and eyes are absolutely lovely in your edit!

    And, I love how bright her dress is in the second one.

    i really need to get a photoshop for dummies book!

    I was actually going to ask you about how to make skin look better without looking un-natural. That was yesterday, and I wrote you an email, but something happened and it didn´t send. Well, here we go. I got some tips :) -(I´m going to purchase PSE 8 pretty soon as I think it would be of great help. I only have lightroom and gimp right now.)

    I’ve been thinking of getting photoshop elements myself(just for my amateur pic taking and editing:-)). Great pointeers and the afters look way better! Beautiful bride too. xx

    LOVE the edits! And,how great is that dress??? :o)

    I got my “B” post up. Let me know what you think.

    Amazing! I love your tutorials. Gorgeous pictures too!

    Whòòòw what a difference. You did a great job and I love the tutorial. Thanks!

    Wow, that’s amazing! And I LOVE that you use free actions to help get your results…not ones that cost a lot! This SAHM on a very modest budget thanks you. ;)

    Wow…a true transformation!!!! I will bet she was beyond pleased that you helped her pics along :) xo Cat

    Nice work! While the original pictures are beautiful, I like how you lightened them up – you can really see her eyes and face much better in the first photo. Her dress is gorgeous!

    Thanks for sharing! You’re a darling!

    thanks for the comment Ashley! I love your blog and all your editing tips :)

    Great edits. Thanks for sharing challenges. I’m trying to keep up!


    thanks a million and 10, friend!! I loooove the new photos! I went from having dark, dull pics to gorgeous, bright ones! hahah! and i will still never understand how jerm got you to go out with him!! hehehe….but i am super glad you did! :) lova ya both!

    Wow. What a difference. Thank you so much for the tutorial. Very informative. The bride’s picture, although beautiful before, but now she shines even more. Awesome.

    As always, great tutorial! I love how her face still looks so natural, as opposed to overly touched up.

    WOWZA! Great job, Ashley! Huge difference!

    Beautiful edits! I will have to try exploring some of your tutorials on weekends!

    Those little tweaks made a world of difference.

    I love your tips and tutorials , so helpful

    Wow! Great edits. I love what you did with each photo. Thank you for posting the screen shots too :)

    wow you completely turned the photo around and make it look so good and detailed with good lighting! Love it!

    nice edits!

    Um…WOW! What a transformation! I am definitely bookmarking this post.

    Great job with the photos. I’ve barely played around with PS myself (my pics are mostly socc or with just a tad of color correction more recently)…
    I really like the eye brightening. Does it work with dark eyes too?

    I have yet to tackle curves. They intimidate me big time. Should probably work on that :)

    Thanks for sharing your editing tut

    Great editing Ashley. Last Sunday I noticed that squeaky clean wasn’t free any longer. Hopefully I won’t miss your future post where you give an alternative.

    :) Rosie

    You have made good photos even better Ashley. I try to do the same thing, but my daughter is much better at it than I. Layers are something I have little experience with. I should try using them more often.