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If you're a beginner in photography, you're probably well aware that your photos come out a little far from perfect. Luckily, there's editing software!
Let me preface this by saying: a bad photograph cannot be fixed with editing tricks. You must know your camera before trying to muck it all up with editing software. Think of editing as adding a little extra flair to your photos. Now, we all make mistakes — underexposure, high ISO, etc. — and editing is great for fixing those mistakes. But if you have to fix over/underexposure or high ISO in almost every photograph you take, you might need to look at the root of the problem; your operation of the camera! Check out this article on camera selection & operation, and this article on photography for beginners if you still need a little extra guidance.
So, first and foremost you're going to need a platform to edit your photos. I highly recommend Lightroom & Photoshop -- but if you're on a tight budget, there are tons of free/cheap resources online, such as Pixlr. Remember that each program is different — so, depending on the software you use, the editing techniques you use may differ.
Lightroom is great for batch editing things like lighting, color, white balance, and clarity. Photoshop, on the other hand, is better for when you need to swap heads, change the color of a background, and more intense blemish editing to achieve that perfect, clear skin we all aspire to have.
YouTube tutorials are going to be your best friend when you first start out. Just search for what you're trying to do (remove pimples, whiten teeth, etc) and voila! Millions of different techniques in a matter of seconds. Just remember that there's no right or wrong way to edit certain photos.
I personally like Phlearn. They have clear, professional tutorials that teach you just about everything under the sun. Not to mention, it's free!
3. Take a course.
If you're too stumped and don't understand the free YouTube tutorials, that's okay! There are hundreds of thousands of professional photographers out there that offer mentoring services and editing courses online. JRS Photography offers both mentoring services (for those in the Dallas, TX area) and online editing tutorials/live webinars at an affordable price. There are also most likely photography courses available at your local community college, recreation center, or library. Just ask around!
4. Ask questions!
If you don't understand something, ask! There's a whole community out there on the internet, offering help. Google is your best friend in this situation. And remember that there are no stupid questions.
5. Find your own style.
Everyone has their own style when it comes to editing. Mess around with different settings in your editing program and figure out what you like most—this can help your marketability and create a brand for yourself, if you become well-known for your particular style. If you want to know more about advertising for your business, or about running a photography business in general, check out this article.
6. Practice, practice, practice!
Of course, I always have to end my photography articles with 'practice.' It's the key to everything! Always practice with different editing styles and techniques. Take tons of photos everyday and challenge yourself to edit them in different ways! There is no right or wrong way to edit a photo — "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," as they say.