The Do's and Don'ts of Photo Editing: Part 1

Whudup. Yo. A-deezy in the heezy fa sheezy. 

Gangster moment over.

Oh, the totally made-up word from yesterday is basically the word for the vehicle that a soccer mom uses to tote all her kids around and run errands. 
Okay, so I've been asked to do some Photoshop (which will be known from here on out as PS) tutorials, but I am to lazy to  can't figure out how to get my computer to record what I'm doing. This may be a good thing, because I don't want to accidentally post videos of myself looking up pictures of pokemon and have you guys wonder what the heck I do in my free time.

Until I stop being so dumb figure out how to use my computer, I have compiled a list (complete with pictures) of do's and don'ts in photo editing. Note: I'm not a professional photographer, I'm not a professional editor. I am, however, pretty skilled where PS is concerned. No, I don't have a degree in it. I taught myself everything I know. If that discredits me as a resource in your eyes, go ahead and stop reading. Thanks!


1. Spot Color. UGH. Please - this makes me cringe. Yes, I am guilty of it - long, long ago in my "Picnik" days. You may think that this "enhances" your photo. Umm no. Maybe it enhances my fear of or disgust with your photo, but no. It does not make your photo better. Having only your eyes blue or brown looks stupid. Having a random blotch of your photo colored looks stupid.
I'm sure there are 1 or 2 cases out of every 1,000,000,000 where spot color works, but generally it's just a bad idea that should be flushed down your brain toilet the second it pops into your head.

2. Random cut and pastes. This one can't be done in Picnik (thank goodness), so it's not as common, but once you learn how to use PS, please promise me that you will never do this. Please. 

3. Too much airbrush. We've all seen it, and we've all probably been guilty of it at one point or another. You know, the second you saw the airbrush tool on Picnik. You thought, Great! Now I can get rid of all my fine lines, wrinkles, and blemishes! Getting rid of that stuff is fine, but there is a point where it's just too much. I mean, faces have line, people!! That too much - it's about the point where you no longer have pores or any sign of aging. Oh, and your face looks drawn on and totally not even real.
4. Over-editing (specifically the over-use of actions). See, in PS there are these things called actions. In Picnik, they are the little pre-made edits like cross-process, vibrance, etc. Those things are fine. Great, even. But once you can't see the picture, you've gone a little overboard. (Edit: After Megan's comment, I had to re-over-edit this photo... I hadn't over-edited enough! haha, shows you how much I hate it.)

5. Over-use of textures. Textures are freakin' cool, and they can make a great photo even more rockin'. The fact is, though... that if you over-use them, your photos will look silly. People. There is a place where you cross the line and "too much" happens.

That's all for now! I think I will have to have another post with more "don'ts," because I have quite a few that I didn't touch on at all!!


Anonymous said...


i love your parents in a brick wall.
and is it bad that i think photo 4 looks great (well, the one of you in misty background). im HORRIBLE at photo editing. just horrible. i have photoshop and other things but just suck at them. nor do i have the time to learn them.

but one thing i can say is i HATE over airbrushed photos. JUST HATE. and spot color is sooo stupid. whoever thought that looked good is insane.

what a cool post. i wish i had thought of something long ago like this. i could have gone on and on (until i realized i was talking about my own skills!)

Becky Borgman said...

Your posts are always so hilarious, no matter what you are talking about. I am a wannabe photographer (currently mostly using my cell phone) but I will definitely refer to this when I do finally get my digital DLR camera and PS.

Unknown said...

Great post! The spot colour thing is terrible I agree.

Luckily for me (or unluckily??) I don't have photoshop and only use very basic editing tools so I don't think I could fall foul of doing any of these even if I wanted to!!


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lori said...

i love this.

i hate spot coloring. why do people think that it looks good?!?!

Michelle said...

Haha I agree with you on these definitely! I hate spot coloring.

Kym said...

haha!! great post :) i pretty much agree with all of your tips (except i do have one that i spot colored which came out pret-ty cool if i do say so myself). but yes, in general, and especially for those awesome examples you chose, spot coloring is usually a bad idea.

so, when you taught yourself Ps, was it just by playing around in the program or did you use tutorials and books or other types of educational stuff?

Kylie said...

I approve this message. Thank you!! I'm sure you have lots more to add. I would also add please don't over-do the bare-belly maternity shots. That may just be personal preference, and I have seen some done well, but sometimes it's just scary.

Anonymous said...

You won't have to wait much longer for all the Picnik stuff to stop - it's closing in like a month! So I guess that gives me one month to learn how to use PS Elements. I'm gonna need those tutorials STAT! :o)

erin e flynn said...

hahahahaha THANK YOU. Yeesh, I've seen these Ps crimes far too many times! (and I like Picnik, but who decided it was a good idea to use it as a real photo editor? well, half the internet, that's who... yikes.)

Breenah said...

I think your parents would look awesome as a mural on the side of some random building.

Jennie said...

YES YES!!! YES FOR ALL OF THESE!!!! I admit I have been guilty of the over airbrushing in my beginner photoshop days, but my rule is to have the airbrush set at a point that I think looks natural, and then take 25% of that off. It makes it so it actually looks natural most of the time. If that makes sense. Ha.

Also I hate the spot coloring. It is the dumbest thing in the world. Nothing screams BEGINNER PHOTO EDITOR like a person with a black and white photo with purple eyes. Ugh. The only time I think it looks cool is when the coloring is so slight that you can't tell whether it is actually there or not. That is just visually interesting to me.

Also, I like to leave novels. Sorry about that! ;)

Natasha Louise Taylor said...

The spot colouring with the feet made me laugh so much!! don't know why, haha! I love how you are so blunt and to the point Ashley, you are so funny, I love it!

Alana Christine said...

I hate that stupid color spot!
Also, it's so annoying to see airbrushed photos. Really, though?! I KNOW you don't have a perfect complexion or teeth whiter than snow...

Kristina said...

Great examples and so true!! :)
Really need to learn how to photoshop, only the good things though...

Gentri said...

Love it! Thank you for the fabulous tips, Alyx!!

momto8 said...

thank you for this post!!! I really learn something new everyday!!!
great pics!!

Life's Little Moments said...

hahaha I love this! I totally agree on everything. The texture thing seems to be getting big lately too and some textures are awesome! But others are just crazy weird!

stephanie said...

haaaaa! the first two are my favs. can't stand those either!!

Alex, Speaking Denglish said...

over airbrushing is hte absolute worst. there was this photographer that a lot of my friends went to for the senior pictures in high school and seriously all the photographer did was airbrush the crap out of people - they didn't even look good and people were paying a ton of money for it. i was blown away.

Pia said...

This post is awesome! I loved it.
I may be guilty of over-editing from time to time...but I already told myself that I have to stop that.
And this is embarrassing and shows that I am SO naive: I always wondered why some people have such great skin on close-ups and what they do that they have no visible pores. Yeah, now I know. Thank you for that. I am an idiot.

Whitney @ EHFAR said...

When some people asked me to take pictures of them, one of the first things they asked is, if I could do spot color. I told them, I could, but I choose not to. Haha... I did that like six years ago. It just doesn't look professional.

I hate overdoing the airbrushing. I saw someone's pageant photos and they looked like soooo fake. They looked like a freakin' barbie doll made of plastic. Not flattering at all. Considering everyone knows what they really look like.

Sophie @TheForge said...

ahahahaha that made me laugh. great post!

megan danielle said...

love this post hahaha and you can make a video of what youre doing on your computer here:

its this free thing that lets you take screen shots of your computer, the whole thing or just certain areas, and make videos as well. its awesome, i love it. just saying. also, love this post and totally agree!!

Rebecca said...

These are really helpful, thank you! Can't wait to see the list of dos!

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