Although I believe that the most important decisions a photographer makes happen as they are shooting – the camera settings, the composition, the angle and countless other little details – the decisions the photographer makes during post-processing can make a huge impact on the final product the client receives. Every photograph I print goes through a thorough process that starts with clean-up of any distracting elements (that tiny piece of chocolate pudding on a kid’s face that went unnoticed during the shoot, the stray hair across the forehead, etc). Then, I go through a color-correction flow that I created for myself, making sure that skin tones look as they should – this can truly make or break a portrait. Finally, I put a few finishing touches that make the photo pop and contribute to a consistent look and feel. Because the process can be incredibly manual, I often use Photoshop actions. Among my favorites are by MCP Actions. In this photo, I will demonstrate how I transformed a photograph using a set of actions. Please keep in mind this is a bit different than my usual workflow as I wanted to demonstrate some of the fun features I might not use on a regular basis.

To create the final result I first cleaned up the image and made my manual adjustments to make sure the exposure, white balance and colors are spot on. Then I used the Mini Fusion action set to add more contrast and saturation (I turned all other layers off and lowered the opacity on the ones I used to make the effects a little more subtle). Then I used the Magic Midtone Lifter action at a low opacity to add a little more pop. I used the eye doctor to brighten the irises and whites and bring out the the catch lights. Finally, I used magical contrast and magical clarity to give it a final pop.

Doing this by hand would take me hours per photo, so having a set of actions to help me has been a lifesaver!

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