Photography 101: Crop & Enhance Effectively in Photoshop

Bluebonnets bloomed this year quite sparsely in Texas, but we were graced with some beautiful red poppies in the mix.

In capturing images of children, I like to focus mainly on “in the moment” pictures rather than the posed images that we all used to have taken at our local portrait studio.

Today I am going to teach you how to crop effectively.  How to reduce the image so that:

1) The subject is the main focus, as he/she should be

2) Still keep elements of your surroundings in light

So….to begin, here is my out of the camera image. (Sorry for the watermarks, we have all had a lot of photo theft recently)


You can see that this little one is somewhat lost in the greens and the blown out sky behind her….not to mention the unsightly buildings.

How do I fix this?

1) Crop.

The most effective way is to determine what size you would like to print your image and then use the crop tool in Photoshop that looks like this:

I chose to crop the image so that I could really focus on her great expression, as well as the flowers in the field.

2) Enhance.

Due to the lighting (overcast sky), her face is not crisp and bright like I would like it.

Therefore, I used created a curves layer to brighten up the image. Drag the line up right in the center for an overall brightness, but then if it seems like too much, move a touch down further on the curved line and drag that slightly up as well to level the tones (as seen below).

3. Sharpen

Once your picture is brightened to your liking, its time to sharpen her up.  Use the sharpen feature with care, as too much sharpening can pixelate and ruin any image.  To sharpen your image have your image open and click on the “Background” Layer in your layers toolbar (also seen above). Right click on “Background” to create a duplicate layer.  You never want to edit within your original background layer.  Once created, make sure that the “Background Copy” layer is highlighted.  Then at the top of PS, click on Filter and then Sharpen.  Sharpen to your liking.

4. Saturation

The overcast skies muted out the blues in her jacket slightly, so I saturated my picture, just ever so slightly.  To do this, look at the top toolbar and click on:

* Layer

* New Adjustment Layer

* Hue/Saturation

Adjust to your liking.

In the end, you should have an image that is beautiful, sharp and focused on your subject rather than her surroundings!

Happy Shooting!

Melanie is the owner of Melanie Melugin Photography, LLC based out of North Dallas. She is a natural light outdoor lifestyle photographer that has a wide variety of clients ranging from newborn and children to celebrity and weddings.  She travels the country capturing lifestyle portraiture and was recently featured on for her newborn photography.

Please feel free to visit her at her website,, her blog, or follow her on Facebook and Twitter!




  1. 1

    I’m amazed I had no idea you could do things like this to enhance a photo!

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