- General Best Practices
Our images can often look pretty good taken with the cameras on our smartphones. However, when we compare them to edited images, they often look flat and can appear blue toned.
The good thing is that making basic edits to images is super easy. And taking the few extra steps to help your images pop can make the difference between an average image and a great image. And since your school community has high expectations online and on social media, your images matter greatly. Take these few steps to get that extra notice your images and brand deserve.
Note: all images shown were taken with my cell phone using natural light.
How to Edit Photos of People
The below image is a good representation of a student profile photo. The girl (or student) has a lovely smile and pose which makes this an ideal image for a newsletter article. However, her face is a little bit dark and there are gray tones to the photo. I want the student’s face to stand out from the rest of the photo.
For photos with people in them, the human eye is more attracted to warmer tones, so I want the photo to be warmer overall. Using a Samsung Galaxy J7 (not the best phone—but proof that you don’t need an expensive phone for great photos), I edited the image with the native image editor in my phone. I did not use any special app. Almost every cell phone comes with a basic image editor. These steps can apply to an iPhone’s image editing tool too.
Goal: I want to draw attention to the student’s face.
Step One: Adjust the Photo's Brightness
I first use my phone to adjust the brightness. For slightly dark images like the one above, I will increase brightness to around 7-17 points. From there I play with the contrast and saturation.
Step Two: Adjust the Photo's Contrast and Saturation
I usually add about 8-15 points for contrast, but for saturation I am more conservative. Don’t increase too much — I try to keep it under 10 when there are faces in the image. (If you have landscape or building shots, you can be more liberal with saturation levels.)
Step Three: Adjust Brightness Again
Then I revisit my brightness and increase it slightly more since the contrast and saturation to darken a photo slightly.
Step Four: Crop the Image
The image definitely has a pop after those changes. However, the red floor runner in the background is distracting and I want the student to be the focus in the image. My last step is to crop the image.
Now if you compare the original to the edited version, you can see how some basic edits can make your images pop.
How to Edit Photos of a School Campus
Even though I am a professional photographer, I don’t have time to edit every one of my images in Photoshop that I post online. I definitely utilize the editing tools in my cell phone along with Instagram’s simple editing tool. It is such a fast and easy way to get images to stand out.
However, if you want to take your editing to the next level with Photoshop, here is a basic tutorial on fixing background light.
This image below was taken with my cell phone. The building is dark because my cell phone was reading the light from the sky.
Goal: I want to lighten the building without affecting the color of the sky.
Step One: Lighten Entire Image
First I open the file in Photoshop. I lighten the photo by using the curves tool. You can find this under Image-Adjustments-Curves in the top menu bar. This will lighten the entire image.
Step Two: Select the Building
Next, I take the quick selection tool (fourth tool down on the left side menu) and select the general sky area. Note that I only select half of the large evergreen tree selected. This is on purpose. If I only select the sky, I will end up with odd looking halos around the tree when I go to make my brightness edits.
Then I invert the selection.
Step Three: Adjust the Brightness
Now that my image is selected around the building, I can make adjustments in brightness that will make the image more appealing. I increase the brightness to around 17. I would do more but it will create a noticeable contrast around the tree in front that is not highlighted. In order to be more efficient in my editing, I keep it simple.
These edits may be minor, but they really make a difference. This is a worthy addition to your school’s homepage, social media posts, or even a postcard!
You already have excellent tools to create beautiful images. These tools are simple and quick, and can take your images to the next level. Beautiful images have an amazing power to be transformative for the viewer. It is surely one of the fastest and simplest ways that we can tell the story of the great things we offer at our schools.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mia Johnstone has over 13 years of experience as a marketing strategist for private schools. Her work has included creating branded photoshoots and marketing materials in alignment with each school's values. Mia also published the LA Private School Guide, a magazine that profiled private schools in Los Angeles. Visit www.readysetenroll.com to download a posing guide for your next do-it-yourself photo shoot.