How to Edit and Retouch Portraits in Lightroom

In this tutorial, I’ll be teaching you how I edit and retouch portraits in Lightroom.

This portrait retouching tutorial is of a photo of Caleb Negassa, a good buddy who has helped with the Film Fundraising course. This photo was shot for our Photography Masterclass live demonstration lessons by Sam Shimizu-Jones.

Watch the Retouching Tutorial:

Steps for Editing Portraits:

  1. Crop to your desired size/aspect. Use 1:1 aspect for most social media profile pics.
  2. Fix white balance
  3. Fix exposure with basic tone sliders
  4. Adjust saturation/vibrance
  5. Add or adjust contrast with Tone Curve
  6. Add more style by de-sharpening areas around eyes, mouth, hair, and parts of faces with radial filter
  7. Sharpen and brighten eyes with adjustment brush
  8. Whiten teeth with adjustment brush
  9. Remove blemishes with clone tool
  10. Brighten sleepy eyes (skin beneath eyes)
  11. Add vignette (optional)
  12. Add grain (optional)

These are my basic steps. Of course some portraits don’t need all of these edits. Some portraits need more. Sometimes I adjust HSL or split toning settings – adding yellow to highlights and blue to shadows – to give photos more of a style.

KEY TIP: Make Your Eyes Pop

My biggest advice is to make sure eyes are sharp and bright (not too bright). This will make any portrait pop more!