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From My Family To Our Phamily

Dec 22

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How To Edit Family Photos

This episode is perfect for anyone with a family…

I edit a family photo of my brother Tyler, his wife Annie, and their baby Cooper. This is great not only because these people are special to me, but this is the exact thing that will really help you.

It is not always about making something crazy conceptual, sometimes it is all about taking great photos fo your family. After watching today’s episode, you will be able to make those photos even better.

What You Will Learn

  • 0:30 – From my family to our phamily
  • 2:30 – Planning the changes to make
  • 4:00 – VERY EASY fixing color
  • 10:00 – Transforming the background
  • 12:10 – Creating Stray Hairs
  • 16:00 – Extending the blanket
  • 22:00 – Trevor stops by with his awesomeness
  • 27:00 – Adding a light source
  • 30:00 – Brightening faces and fixing redness
  • 34:00 – Brightening eyes and teeth
  • 38:00 – Adding a color cast
  • 34:00 – Brightening eyes and teeth

How We Do It

One of the best things you can do to a photo VERY QUICKLY and EASILY is to get the white balance perfect. This is not an easy thing to do in camera, but can always be fixed in Photoshop.

In this photo, the original was pretty close, and really didn’t need a whole lot. The biggest clue will always be skin tone. If it looks anything less than natural, it is probably TOO WARM.

To fix this, we use a great AUTO feature in curves. Opening up the dialogue will show more options to the auto, which will usually result in the best appearance.

We also simplify the background a bit, drawing more attention to the subjects. This sort of thing is not always needed, and sometimes not a good idea. For instance, if you have to preserve the integrity of the original photo. If the point of the image is similar to this one, the often times removing distracting elements can greatly help.

We also cover brightening their faces, brightening teeth and eyes. This can be particularly challenging, not necessarily because of technique, but because it is easy to over-do. I always lower the opacity of any effect a little to counteract that.


It is really awesome having you here during the holidays. What are your plans? Do you have any special traditions? Were you naughty or nice this year?

  • Vitaliy Piltser

    I really enjoy these type of episodes. Taking a photo from start to finish like this really does the most help, at least for me. Did you finish working on the blanket btw?

  • Sean Kelly

    Great episode!  It was interesting to watch you thought process when approaching an image like this.  I picked up a lot.  Great moment when Trevor says Phlearn you later!

  • Jenna Petrone

    The most useful part of this episode for me was when you showed us how to put directional lighting into the picture.  I added the technique to my sketch book. Thank you for teaching me something new : )

  • Kujtim

    definitely you are awesome HERE .

  • Edd Carlile

    That was a very very enjoyable tutorial.
    Thank you so much.

  • David Clumpner

    Great episode and I used it just now on a photo I’m working on today!

    Just a hint to anybody following along on this tutorial – when he ‘copies’ the background from the left then flips it to use on the right, he is using a keyboard shortcut (CMD-T) to summon the free transform tool.  I had to do a little learning to figure that out.

  • Alex


    This video was AWESOME. Seriously. I looooved going through this from start to finish, really interesting to see how someone else does things! And it was lovely to meet your brother and hear about what he does! :) Thanks so much for taking the time, you rock! 


  • Reem

    great episode! I loved the part about the lighting it was very useful!

  • Aaron Nace

    Thanks for adding that David! You can also go to EDIT- TRANSFORM – FLIP HORIZANTAL

  • Aaron Nace

    I think I like the more natural version in the end, it is not as clean, but stays more true. What do you think?

  • Vitaliy Piltser

    I personally would leave the grass/leaves in the frame (think that’s what you meant by natural version) I guess I was just curious as to how you would’ve handled the blanket’s texture..

  • Jenny Su

    You have a cute family, all you and your brothers look alike!
    Happy holiday :]
    BTW, you said it’s “thanksgiving” in the video… 

  • Jon

    Another cracker of an episode
    Aaron, Love the way it’s done from start to finish. Like someone else
    mentioned, I learn the most watching it being done rather then reading or just
    being told how to – Makes so much sense when you see the process. Keep it up dude,
    The holidays are here, enjoy and have a good one !! Jon.

  • buddy burke

    thank you i learn so much from your video

  • Chris Deutscher

    The best part about Phlearn…no shortcuts.  I have watched so many daily/phlearnPRO videos and when there is meticulous stuff that needs to happen to a photo, Aaron has NEVER skipped out on that.  He walks through every minute detail and it’s very much appreciated.

  • trmartin

    Great episode, Can’t thank you enough for all the information and inspiration. However on this episode when you where brightening the eye and using the ‘Blend if” the screen was clipping your cursor and I couldn’t see what/how you were twiddling the controls. so it was a little hard to follow the exact cause and effect.. Does this count as a critique of AKNACER? Just kidding, keep up the great work can’t wait to see what Phlearn has in store for 2012.

  • Jeni

    I loved this tutorial. With the holidays, there will be tons of family photos taken.  So, this is just perfect timing.

    I also like that I got a little science lesson too. ;-)

  • Judy

    Truly helpful episode!!  I learned so much from this one!  Especially loved the split toning effect!    Wow, the Nace family sure is an attractive bunch!!  :)

  • Nina

    Thanks Aaron, as always I learn something new every day. :)

  • Angela Butler

    At 27:00
    “That’s what you get, when I’m home with my parents for thanksgiving!” 
    Oh Aaron, mind a little scattered today? :)  

    All kidding aside, great episode, I’m always a bigger fan of the longer episodes but we all know you don’t have time for this all the time. I appreciate you putting this out there for all of us to watch, and it was nice to meet your bro! Some useful stuff in here, great episode! I hope you had a great thanksgiving!! Er…I mean Christmas. :)

  • Pingback: Meet Ilona, one of the most inspiring 90 year old women I’ve ever come across. » Alex Beadon Photography

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