A Step-by-Step Beginner's Guide to Photo Post-Processing

Photo Editing

minute read

From artistic fashion to commercial photography, high-quality images are essential for deal-makers. In the digital age we live in, eye-catching visuals not only take a brand one notch up, but they also convey a brand story to the audience. Well, how do you think these breathtaking photos were created? If you think a high-tech digital camera is the answer, you have got it wrong.

Cameras, no matter how advanced, often fail to generate flawless pictures. This creates the necessity for photo post-processing that enhances the images digitally. Right from the introduction of digital photography in the ‘90s, a lot of research and developments were made in altering an image’s overall quality and enhancing it. With modern photo editing techniques, photo post-processing has become a lot easier.

In this article, get comprehensive insights on image processing or retouching, along with some useful post-processing tips for a flawless editing workflow. Hope this insightful guide to photography post-processing techniques will give a headstart to all beginners in the photography industry to master the art.

What does post-processing mean in photography?

Photo post-processing is the digital process of making aesthetic and sometimes technical changes to a photo after a camera shoots it. That’s why the process is deemed “post”. It primarily includes RAW image file conversion, photo culling, removing blemishes, cropping, adjusting white balance, saturation, brightness, and contrast.

The process also encompasses optimizing the file size and the image for export, printing purposes, web purposes, and the like.

In simple words, image post-processing, or retouching, fixes the overlooked flaws while snapping the photo. It is also done to bring out the real beauty of the picture, making it appear professional and polished.

As we know, cameras, no matter how advanced they are, often fail to generate photos that create an appeal to the onlooker. With post-processing, this issue gets solved in a few clicks. Professional photo editing companies can retouch a large number of photos in just a few hours.

Why is post-processing important in photography?

Editing or processing after a photo is taken is not always mandatory, but it certainly does transform a plain-looking image into a visual masterpiece. Photo editing has always been around, right from the days of early photography, and it has always been done to bring out the best of an image.

Post-processing a digital photo fixes imperfections and flaws in a subject’s image that cameras cannot. Be it a blemish, dust spots, pimple marks, stray hair, visual noise, or vignetting, without the help of modern photo editing software, it is impossible to fix these flaws.

Check out the reasons behind the significance of post-processing and retouching in digital photography.

  • Image editing helps expand creativity further

    Photographs shot on camera are creatively limited, considering the fact that the camera lens only mimics the subject along with its surroundings. Hence, not much room for creative imagination is possible in this scenario. However, with advanced photo manipulation software programs, photo editors can add a touch of artistic creativity to the images.

    Whether you want:

    • digital double exposure effect in the photo
    • multiply the subject
    • restructure the landscape
    • change, replace, or recreate the background
    • make the subject disappear, or
    • create a surreal effect

    - you can do them all through photo manipulation or editing. It is a wonderful way of fusing aesthetic creativity with digital artform.

  • Image processing can fix imperfections

    The photo post-processing process includes fine-tuning the photo or the photo’s subject to increase the picture’s overall appeal. As mentioned above, photo retouchers can digitally eliminate blemishes, smooth the skin, remove stray hair, adjust make-up, whiten teeth, and do many other upliftings. All these edits make the photo look polished and professional.

  • Bring out the true vision of the photo

    For instance, one may want to photograph with a certain vision or thought in mind. For instance, if you want to recreate an environmental landscape that you saw some time back with your photographs, or perhaps you want to incorporate a classic black-and-white shade effect that will accentuate the subject; photo editing allows all these possibilities.

  • Incorporate corporate branding

    Corporate visuals must be aptly branded to keep them aligned with the brand identity. Staying true to the branding evokes brand value, loyalty, and a recall factor. Such as brand colors, logos, theme fonts, etc. However, the post-processing capabilities of cameras are limited, and thus, photo retouching tools are required to incorporate the brand theme.

  • Generate high-quality images for sales

    Product images ought to be of superior quality to convey professionalism, brand authenticity, and credibility. Blurry, low-resolution and grainy photos are detrimental to a brand’s online reputation. eCommerce platforms and listing sites prefer images of optimum quality and file size.

    By editing the raw images with the latest software, this super-level quality can be achieved. Professional agencies have unlimited access to cutting-edge image post-processing tools. Therefore, it is always recommended to work with experienced image editing and retouching service providers.

Easy tips and techniques for flawless image processing

In this segment of our comprehensive article, you will learn about some of the useful tips and techniques for performing flawless photo processing. Hope this compilation will help the readers, especially aspiring photo retouching professionals. Check out the tips along with the photo-post processing steps below:

  1. Start by culling the photos objectively

    Professional photographers take over 100 photos in one photoshoot; sometimes, the number is higher. As a photo post-processing technician, your first job is to cull the images worth editing.

    Before starting the retouching workflow, filter out the best files among blurry, out-of-focus, over/under-exposed photos. This process is called culling and is the first step in image post-processing.

  2. Regulate the saturation and white balance

    Whichever software you work on, Photoshop or Lightroom, the second step in post-processing usually starts with adjusting the white balance and saturation. This helps regulate the color in an image, adjusting certain shades that convey a feeling and emotion through the photo.

    Use the slider options in whichever tool you use, and adjust the colors based on the theme and mood of the photo.

  3. Eliminate visual noise or grain

    Visual noise are the grainy dots that appear on a digital image, caused by multiple factors. Post-processing images include noise removal as the third step. Noise can be eliminated by installing plug-ins or by using photo-retouching software like Photoshop or Lightroom.

    This important technique helps generate flawless photos with fine details and color accuracy.

  4. Perform an image sharpening process to make the image pop

    Another good technique to increase clarity in images is to sharpen them. If you are using Photoshop, from the Filter menu, select “Sharpen” and then “Unsharp Mask”. You can adjust the effect and sharpen the intensity by moving the sliders.

    There’s also one more technique to do this, although slightly more technical. That is, by “focus stacking”. Photoshop offers this specialized feature, wherein you can layer multiple similar-looking image files together.

    This ultimately reveals the sharpest region in each of the photos. Go to the File menu, select “Scripts”, and then select the option “Load File to Stack”.

  5. Apply gradients to show fading-out effects

    If the image has an over-exposed and dull-looking sky backdrop, gradients can increase the image’s overall quality. You can use the “Graduated Filter” or the “Radial Filter” tool in Lightroom. The tools are for the linear fading-out gradient and the circular gradient effects, respectively.

    If a retoucher uses Photoshop, they can apply the gradients to a layer mask with the “Gradient” tool in the software. From the dropdown options, one can select the gradient shape, color, and blending mode.

  6. Correct and refine the image colors

    The fundamental difference between fine art and commercial art is the use of colors. In the former, colors are meant to be elaborate and flashy at times to communicate the message. In the latter, however, unwanted color casts are considered damaging. Especially product photos or portraits where the subject must appear particularly appealing.

    More so if the image happens to have a shade of purple, color correction is mandatory; otherwise, it creates color fringing or chromatic aberration. Regardless of the tool you use, ensure the colors look realistic, balanced, and natural, not outlandish.

  7. Unwanted objects and imperfections removal

    Imperfections and redundant object removal are other techniques critical to the photo processing workflow. Usually, two primary Photoshop tools are utilized in this procedure for the best results. Namely, the “Healing Brush” and “Clone Stamp” tools.

    Whether a minute object or a bigger obstacle, the clone brush and healing tool can effortlessly make these specific adjustments. The Lightroom alternative to these two tools is the spot removal tool, which works in a similar way.

  8. Export the final edited file in universally compatible format

    This is essentially the last step in the picture post-processing workflow. Depending on the end objective of the client, whether the file will be used for printing or for the web, select an optimum file format.

    Besides JPG and PNG, other commonly used formats are BMP, TIFF, PNG, GIF, WebP, etc. Save the files in the selected format in high resolution or low resolution.


It’s an official wrap to our comprehensive and detailed beginner’s guide to photo post-processing and editing. As it is known, enhancing a digital photo with specialized edits gives it a distinct and stylized look, making it appear more appealing to onlookers. This is exceptionally required for modern-day eCommerce and product listings. High-quality visually appealing images are the greatest deal-makers.

Not only for the eCommerce sector, but for real estate, fashion, healthcare, and personal purposes like weddings, engagements, and portraits, professionally edited photos are the most preferred. Given the precision and technical expertise required for the post-processing techniques, it is best to work with professional experts. There are several such agencies that offer high-quality photo editing services for digital photos at a reasonable price and superfast TAT.

Team up with such an expert agency today!