Angie Monson – Simplicity Photography – Photoshop Actions

I often get emails asking how to edit like a specific photographer in Photoshop. One such photographer I get questions about often is Angela Monson of Simplicity Photography. Her work is stunning and colorful, and I am lucky enough to have her as an online friend.  Angie has her own unique look and way of editing, and as a rule, she rarely ever uses any Photoshop actions in her retouching.  She hand edits her images. And while this is great and it works amazingly for her, many of her followers, and mine, want to know how to achieve a similar look in Photoshop.

The closest way to achieve the Angie Monson look using Photoshop actions are using products from the following sets: Bag of Tricks, Quickie Collection, and All in the Details actions.  In honor of a contest I have going on this week on her blog (where you can win a $100 gift certificate to MCP Actions), she sent me a SOOC image of her children to edit with my actions.

I edited a few images for her blog a while back too – you may enjoy these before and after images as well.

For this new image that she sent me, here are step-by-step photo editing techniques I used by running MCP’s Photoshop actions. I did one color popped version and then an alternate version with a more vintage feel.

  1. Started by using the Magic Fill Light Action from the Bag of Tricks to shine light into the shadow areas of the image. Layer opacity set to 100%. Masked back the background.
  2. Next I used the Magical Clarity Action from the Bag of Tricks to give dimension to the background and add detail to the fields. Layer opacity set to 70%. Masked back the children’s skin so it would stay smoother.
  3. To add vibrant color to the clothing and the background and fields, I used Finger-paint Medium from the Quickie Collection. I painted this on with a 100% brush everywhere except the skin and hair.
  4. To add overall contrast and pop to the photo, I used the Color Flair action from the Quickie Collection. Used this at the default opacity.
  5. I still wanted more contrast, so I ran the Magical Contrast Action from the Bag of Tricks.  I selected the medium strength and set that layer to 100% opacity.
  6. Lastly, to give the photo a slightly more refined look, I used the Free Photoshop action, Touch of Light/Touch of Darkness. I painted the lightness layer on the skin and on the lighter areas of denim using a 30% opacity brush.  I then painted the darkness layer on the background and some of the clothing, again using a 30% brush.

how to edit like angela monson of simplicity photography

I personally love vibrant color and rich contrast. But I also wanted to show you an alternate edit.  I used step 1-6 and edited on top of that completed image.

  1. I ran the Hazy Days Vintage Photoshop action: Rainbow Sherbet action, which is part of the Frosted Memories set – and turned on the “Day at the Lake” and “Sunrise” layers and set the opacity of each to 17%.
  2. Next I used a browned tone vignette action by using Toasted Edges, which is also part of the Frosted Memories action set – and set the opacity to 61%.

And those were the only steps needed besides resizing to share – to go from the after above to the vintage look below.  Now it’s your turn to weigh in.  Do you prefer the more color popped, vivid look, or the more subdued classic look?  One clearly is more my style, but I would love to hear what you like best.

angela monson vintage photoshop action

Jodi Friedman, MCP Actions

Jodi Friedman is the founder of MCP Actions. She designs popular Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets that make editing faster, easier and more fun.

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  1. 9

    Amy Bruss says

    I don’t have any actions yet…I can’t decide on which one! Love them all! I want to know where Angie gets her awesome clothes!

  2. 11

    Pam L. says

    Thanks for this blueprint, Jodi. You make it look so easy!
    I have a question though. Sometimes after doing all of these
    edits with actions, I have a greyish, splotchy effect in the background
    when I enlarge the photos to 100%. Any ideas as to what I am doing to cause this?

  3. 13

    Val says

    I think it is great and important to look at other people’s style for inspiration but think it is a mistake to try to make your photos look like someone else’s. Finding your own style is so important.

  4. 14

    Kori T. says

    I would buy the bag of tricks for sure!
    (Angie, did you know that you are my favorite photographer?)
    (oops that sounds like I’m brown-nosing)

  5. 18

    Lorraine Reynolds says

    For this particular photo I like the more antiquey 2nd, and if I was in the market to buy an action set that is the one I would buy I think. Although I like both, as a SAHM not a professional photographer I think it would suit ME best. The more colour pop ones are great for ads, pool scenes etc, but I think the other softer effect is just right for the ‘countriness’ feel of the photo.
    But thanks for the running sheet of what you did both ways. Down the track i do hope to purchase some actions and get more into it all.


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