I have always believed that paying attention to the details is hugely important. With everything. A sandwich is much tastier when I take the time to spread the mayonnaise all the way to the edges of the bread and when I think to sprinkle a bit of seasoning salt on top of the cucumbers. There is more respect and love in a marriage where each person remembers to do the "little" things, like unloading the dishwasher or remembering an anniversary.
Photo editing is no exception to this rule! The "details" in this post may seem simple and insignificant, but when I make sure to do all of them, I am guaranteed to have a better looking photo.
Before I even begin editing my photos, I like to make sure I am going to have options. When I take photos, I take a lot of them. If I see one of my boys doing something especially cute, I grab my camera and click click click. When I import the photos into Lightroom for editing, I can sort through them and hopefully find that perfect one (or two, or three) photo that captured the light just right and kept Samson's eyes in focus.
When I feel like I am about done editing a batch of photos, I close up my computer and walk away. I give myself at least an hour before I can look at the photos again. It is a cleansing of the palette, of sorts, except I'm cleansing my vision. Almost every single time I look at my photos the second time, I see something I did not see before. "Ooo, that looks way too green," or "There is definitely not enough contrast in this photo!"
The crop tool is one of the most important tools in Lightroom, in my opinion. I don't always leave everything out of the photo exactly the way I intend to when I snap the picture, so cropping is often necessary. I do almost all of my cropping in Lightroom, as opposed to Photoshop, because Lightroom retains the part of the photo that is deleted when the crop takes place. Photoshop deletes that information forever (once the file has been saved and closed).
Depending on each photo and what I have in mind for the end look and feel, sometimes I crop before editing and sometimes I crop after I have already edited the photo.
I decided to do my editing on this photo before I started cropping because I didn't know exactly what I would want to crop out until I saw my final product.
Here is the photo after a few Lightroom edits.
And here it is after the crop. Much better!
One quick thing about cropping photos. If I want to constrain the proportions for printing purposes, I hold down the Shift key while I resize the crop box.
Here is a good example of a photo that needs some major simplification. Although I do find everything in the photo appealing to the eye, there are way too many things going on.
My crop gave the photo a main focal point and made it much less cluttered.
In unique situations I like to use vignettes instead of the crop tool. For example, in this photo there is a lot of dirty, unappealing garage junk that I really would rather not have to look at.
But I don't want to crop it all out because part of the "feel" of the photo is that Elijah is hanging out in the garage with Daddy. So instead of cropping, I go crazy with a vignette.
Now I can't see the oil spot on the ground or the tv or garbage can or exercise ball on the left side of the photo. Elijah is the focus of the photo because the drastic vignette surrounding him pulls my eyes straight to him.