Subtle Photo Editing With Photoshop Actions Make A Big Difference

Do you prefer subtle photo editing with Photoshop actions – or vibrant, deep color popped images that are more obviously edited?

As photographers we need to find our style for photography and post processing.  Some photographers prefer deeply color popped images, others vintage, others old school film style, and yet other want to just enhance the image without it being that noticeable.  For the images below, photographer Sonomi Johnson, used the incredible lighting and beautiful young woman to work for the photo, rather than against it.  The editing is not in your face obvious, but more low key contrast, skin smoothing and light toning.

For the first photo Blueprint, after cropping, she started with Mini Fusion.  After running the Mini Fusion Free Photoshop Action to add light pop and toning, she turned on the optional layer Cool Blue Sea. Next she used the Eye Doctor Photoshop Action to sharpen her eyes, with the Sharp as a Tack layer. Then she used Magic Skin actions to smooth out her skin, though her skin was amazing already so again, it was used with very low opacity. When she sent to me, I used the FREE Facebook Fix actions to prepare the image for the blueprint.

how to edit senior photos


For the next photo, she enhanced the image using Cover Model action and finished with Sharp as a Tack from the Quickie Collection. In a few clicks she made the photo pop just a little bit more than it did originally.  These types of edits show how when you nail your exposure, focus and white balance in camera, you have less to do in Photoshop.

photoshop actions for senior photography


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. 1

    Jaden says

    I love your actions!! I may need to buy this set :) I dont like over editing but I love having the option to give pictures a creamy or sharper look. What lens did you use when shooting this picture?

  2. 3


    I really like the second one much better. Although I do like to throw in one or two funky effects per show to keep things interesting, most of what I sell, and what really stands the test of time, is the more natural look. The exception is when I am doing work for a senior album. The younger the client, the more likely they are to like the color manipulations, grunge overlays, and vibrant colors.

  3. 4


    Thank you for this one! I completely agree about getting it right in camera and subtly editing. Yes, you are right about every photographer prefers different kinds of edits. Personally, I’d rather be out shooting more than editing. :-)

  4. 5

    Angie says

    I prefer the less is more editing as well. I want people to look like people. :) However, I keep seeing a tendency towards the paler skin tones and blue/greenish tinting as in the first photo and just can’t get on board. I love warmer, fleshy tones. Is this outdated?

  5. 6


    Love this – excellent use of actions with finesse! I still do most of my retouching/editing singularly but a quality action that can be fine-tuned to your liking is so helpful, especially for proofing. Thanks for sharing these! :-)

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