How can I make my pictures look professional for free?

If you plan on including photographs on your website, you must ensure that they maintain or exceed the high standards that the rest of your site boasts. Many beginners mistakenly underestimate the importance of images when they build their site.  If you need advice on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography.

Why You NEED Professional-Looking Photos

You might wonder why you need professional-looking photos on your site. After all, that might not even be what your site is based on or why users visit it in the first place. But of course, most people are incredibly visual and easily influenced by what they see. Professional-looking photos are essential for the following reasons:

Aesthetics

Even if they try, visitors can’t focus only on your site’s content and ignore all its images! High-quality and great-looking photos will make your site appear more attractive — period.

Credibility

Whether or not it’s reasonable, site visitors can’t help but view subpar or poor-quality images with scepticism. A business whose photos look professional will naturally seem like they take themselves seriously and don’t stoop to download free pictures.

Consistency

This might seem like a small detail, but it’s something visitors pick up on subconsciously. Having images with varying quality, resolution or tones throughout your site will confuse visitors and make it less attractive.

Sell yourself/products.

As visual beings, humans are naturally attracted to things that look nice. High-quality and informative product photos have long been known to be a crucial conversion factor. Better pictures of yourself will also make visitors more likely to trust you.

More users will visit your site. 

If someone does a Google search, they are more likely to follow the higher-quality image to a site.

Ways to Make Your Photos Look Professional

There is no silver bullet to making a professional picture. It often takes years of practice; however, you’ll find that some things will dramatically improve your photography without much effort as a newer photographer. But after you apply the tips on this page and get to the point of being a competent photographer, you’ll find that your progress will be slower, and you’ll have to work harder to make your photo just 1 or 2% better. But here are the simplest things you can do to see an improvement in your pictures quickly. At Wild Romantic Photography, we have the best Melbourne wedding photographer to take memorable photos on your wedding day.

Capture Interesting Lighting

Lighting is number one on this list for a reason. It’s easily the most overlooked aspect of photography for beginning photographers, but professional photographers obsess about it. Lighting is the most important thing for making a photo look professional.

Now, what makes the lighting look interesting? First of all, it’s different from what we usually see. Second, it highlights the subject and presents it in a good way.

There are many ways to make a portrait photo have more interesting lighting. You could place the person in the shade to put even lighting on their face, or you could turn their back to the sun, so that hard shadows don’t rake across the face.

With landscape photography, time of day is imperative. 95% of the landscape photos in my portfolio of the best shots I’ve ever taken were photographed in the very early morning at sunrise or late in the evening at sunset. Beginning photographers often overlook this important tip and try to take a photo in the middle of the day. That’s rarely a recipe for success.

No Aberrations

An aberration in photography is left in the picture that doesn’t belong in the picture. It makes the photo feel cluttered with distractions that keep the viewer from enjoying the subject.

We most commonly see aberrations around the edges of the frame. It can be easy for the photographer to pay close attention to the person they photograph and forget about a piece of trash in the background, an ugly telephone pole in the distance, etc.

Chose a Clear Subject By Zooming In Tight

If you’re having difficulty getting a composition to make sense, the problem is most likely that you’ve chosen too many subjects at once. Decide on what one subject will be the centre of attention, and you’ll have a much more exciting picture.

It’s sporadic that we see a photo that is photographed TOO tight. Zooming in on one part of the scene is almost always the correct answer for new photographers. It takes most of my students a year of learning photography before they finally dare to zoom in tight. How long will it take you?

Digital Styling

Digital styling is applied in Photoshop and Lightroom and allows the photographer to change the colours, contrast, and exposure creatively.

We have all seen a photo that looks much more trendy and creative when a filter is applied to it. If you feel like you’re ready to learn this art of photography, we highly recommend getting Lightroom and taking a Lightroom course to help you get started with the software.

If you learn photo retouching basics, you can outsource your post-processing to freelancer marketplaces like Fiverr that can perform any photo enhancement at a lovely cost!

Interesting Subject

Capturing an interesting subject is usually the most straightforward part of photography. Even non-photographers know that some things are more attractive in a photo than others.

Our advice here is the opposite of what you may think I’m going to say. It’s not that you should find something interesting to shoot (though you certainly should). Our advice is that you should be careful not to be taken by the subject. If you are too excited about the issue, it can be easy to forget about all of the other things on this page. Capture an exciting subject, but once you’ve found it, remove yourself a bit from the excitement, look at the shoot from a 30,000-foot view and pay attention to everything else you need to do.

Crisp Sharpness

There are so many factors that impact a photo’s sharpness that it can be challenging to know what is causing a reduction in your photos’ sensitivity. But we have found that the problem is usually that the photographer did not focus quite right. When taking a picture of a person, it’s essential to focus precisely on the eye of the person you are photographing. 

Unique Perspective

How can I make my pictures look professional for free?

Sometimes you find an exciting subject, but just not an exciting place to photograph it from. If you look at professional photos, they are very often taken from non-obvious spots. For example, a CEO’s image will be photographed from down low, looking up at the person to make him or her look more powerful. In the case of photographing a city, we often want to get to a very high perspective to shoot down and see the whole city.

Creative Composition

The composition is probably the most challenging thing on this list to teach in a short amount of time, but it makes a tremendous difference.

If you have an actual upcoming shoot, we highly recommend that you start learning composition by learning the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is the most basic rule of design that tells the photographer to imagine a tic-tac-toe board on the frame of the picture and to put the most exciting part of the photo at the intersection of those lines. Create lasting memories through your Yarra Valley wedding photography that will be cherished forever.

Mood

The mood is an oft-overlooked aspect of photography, but it’s an excellent way to learn to make a photo more impactful. As you take pictures, ask yourself, “What mood will this photo convey?”

By asking yourself that question, you will avoid taking a person’s photo with a blank expression. You’ll recognise that the person’s expression isn’t conveying a mood, and you’ll change it. This can also happen in the landscape. Look at the photo below of the bird in front of the sunset, and you’ll see that the exposure, which was too bright, did not convey a serene mood.

Proper Depth-of-Field

Depth-of-field is a hallmark of professional photography–especially professional pictures of people. Shallow depth-of-field means that the subject of the photo is sharp, and the background is blurry. Learning this technique can instantly transform your photography into something much more professional looking.

To take a picture with shallow depth of field, follow ALL of the steps in this recipe:

  • Put on your longest lens
  • Set the camera to aperture priority
  • Set the aperture as low as it will go
  • Step as close to the subject as you can while still allowing the lens to focus
  • Place the subject far away from anything in the background.
  • Put the focus point on the subject
  • Take the picture

With auto settings, the camera took the picture on the left. It’s okay, but it isn’t interesting. The photo on the right has a creatively dark exposure that makes the colour in the scene pop. The image on the right conveys a much more impressive mood.

Proper Exposure

Exposure means the brightness or darkness of a photo. It’s probably the thing that beginning photographers put the most work into learning.

There are three ways to control a photo’s exposure: aperture, ISO, and shutter speed. If you’re not sure how they work together and set them, take some time to read my free photography basics series.

Digital cameras are very good at coming to a neutral exposure, but the truth is that neutral exposure is not always the best. For example, suppose you are taking a picture of a person on a bright sunny day. The camera will likely make the face of the person dark and the background too bright. The “neutral” exposure is mid-way between exposing the face and the environment.

But as the photographer, you know that the face is far more important than the background, so you will brighten the exposure for the face and let the experience go bright. Go for the proper exposure, not the neutral one.

Viewing the Photo Large

After you apply all of the other tips on this page, the way you present the photo will significantly differ in how it is viewed by those who see it. Don’t you dare put a tremendous amount of work into a picture and then print it out at 8×10. Show your photo large to have an enormous impact!

Have you ever walked through a photography gallery? Notice how HUGE the photos are? It’s because almost any image looks better and more captivating when viewed fully or on an extensive print.

Make Professional Images

For almost all the best photos taken on smartphones or digital cameras, editing is essential. From cropping to colour correcting, minor tweaks can differentiate between a forgettable snapshot and a truly great photograph. Planning your dream wedding and don’t want to miss out on the special moments on your big day? Worry no more, Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.

Today the process for improving a photo is straightforward. There is an app for almost any photo editing you want to do. With so many brand managers creating visual content in-house, it’s essential to take the time and put forth the strongest possible image to draw in your audience.

How Can a Photo Editor Help You?

You don’t need to be a Photoshop pro to use an editor to take photos on your site to look professional. A proper camera and photographing techniques already do much of that for you. However, there are a few essential tasks that a photo editor will help you with:

  • Resizing/cropping: Although you should resize your photos using code or a website builder, it doesn’t always work out great, or the tools can be limited. Sometimes it’s better (and easier) to do it beforehand with a device.
  • Resolution: Resolution inconsistency can frustrate visitors. Extensive photos can impact your page load times. Photo editing tools can help you adjust the resolution of your images.
  • Touch-ups: For a consistent design or look, you may sometimes need to adjust the tone/brightness/colour of some of your pictures to match the overall feel.

Free Photo Editors

Paint.NET

Simply put, Paint.NET is one of the best free photo-editing tools out there. It manages to strike a delicate balance between the complexity and features of programs like Photoshop and GIMP without being as challenging to grasp. You can use almost any advanced photo-editing features like filters, layers, masks, and curves.

Pros:

  • Advanced features
  • Easier to use than similar software
  • Completely free, with no limitations
Cons:
  • Windows-only

Pixlr

Pixlr has an extensive set of features for a free image-editing tool. The interface will remind you of other platforms like GIMP and Photoshop with all its settings, tools, and options. This means it can be slightly daunting for beginners, but that’s a price you pay for power.

You’ll have advanced features like red-eye removal, advanced filters, layers, masks, etc. With a pro account, you get access to premium fonts, images, and templates, as well as an improved interface.

Pros:

  • A large number of free features
  • Access to all the advanced tools you could hope for

Cons:

  • Slightly complicated for beginners

GIMP

GIMP is a trendy free and open-source image-editing tool that has been around since 1996. With over 20 years of development behind it, it’s no surprise that GIMP currently has some of the most advanced features you can find in a free photo-editing tool.

You can work on multiple layers, create masks, use curves or levels, and easily remove imperfections using their healing tools. You can even create your preset brushes or stamps. Unfortunately, that also means it’s slightly more complicated and may take you a while to get used to.

Pros:

  • Extremely advanced features
  • Plenty of community extensions/plugins
  • No usage limitations or ads

Cons:

  • Slightly complicated interface
  • It needs some time to get accustomed to

Canva

One of the best things about Canva is how it manages to pack a vast number of features into a relatively familiar interface. It almost feels as if you are working in your favourite text editor. There are also many tips available for new users to ease them into the process.

An exciting feature of the Canva platform is that they feature a marketplace where you can buy community-made icons, photos or templates. There are also some fundamental yet straightforward photo-editing tools to crop, resize, filter, flip or adjust your images.

Pros:

  • Fantastic, intuitive interface
  • Marketplace with extra content

Cons:

  • Only basic free features

Fotor

Fotor is all about speed and ease of use. That means that you won’t find all the advanced tools of some other editors like GIMP. However, you’ll have access to some powerful one-click tools, like the ‘1-TAP ENHANCE’ feature.

Some advanced features are behind a paywall (unless you can live with their watermark on your images), and the free version has ads. Overall, it’s more of a retouching tool to beautify and enhance your pictures than a full-fledged editor. A great feature is that it’s compatible with almost all devices and can even be used online.

Pros:

  • Multi-device support
  • Great retouching tools and filters
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Some features require a watermark
  • No fundamental advanced editing tools

Apps to Make Your Photographs Look So Much Better

How can I make my pictures look professional for free?

Snapseed

This Google-owned app has almost every tool you could want for photo editing. With Snapseed, you can straighten, sharpen and colour correct easily. The app also has filters that you can use to stylise your photos. We have an exclusive range of wedding photography Mornington Peninsula services. Check them out here.

VSCO

VSCO dominated the film-inspired filters shortly after Instagram first gained popularity and is still a classic favourite among Instagram users. VSCO provides a plethora of filters and tools to edit photos. If you find a group of editing settings that you particularly enjoy, you can copy and paste them onto photos, making it easy to edit clusters of images cohesively.

Over

Photos with stylised text are incredibly popular on social media. Over makes it easy to overlay text on your images. The app has a range of fonts that you can use to write out your message.

Price

Similar to VSCO, Priime has filters inspired by famous photographers. It also has an algorithm that analyzes your photo and recommends filters that would look best.

TouchRetouch

Have you ever taken a photo you’re psyched about, only to realise later there are a tiny smudge and a piece of trash distracting from its greatness? With TouchRetouch, you can easily edit it out. Problem solved.

Image Blender

Are you stuck between two edits? If you wish, you could combine two filters you can get with Image Blender. You can also get creative, making images that mimic double exposure photos.

Squaready

Whether you’re feeling boxed in by the square dimensions of Instagram or need the perfect crop, Squaready is your friend. It’s simple and straightforward with no-frills, but it’s also practical.

Frontview

Are you trying to get the perfect architecture shot? Make sure you correct for building parallax when the buildings look warped due to the distortion of the lens—with Frontview.

Layout

The layout is a new app that was recently introduced by Instagram, making it easy to create image collages. Use it to create a simple collage or get creative and combine images artistically. The possibilities are vast.

Instagram

Instagram’s popularity boomed partially because of its initial filters and square images. Though interest in the original filters has waned, Instagram regularly introduces new tools. Currently, you can straighten, colour correct, sharpen and create a few photo effects with the social media app’s tools. By no means are Instagram’s tools innovative in the editing space, but learning how to use the app’s filters and other devices is an excellent place to start. If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.

Conclusion

If you can only do a few of these things in your photo, make it these: capture attractive lighting, use a creative composition, and remember to style the photo afterwards digitally. Try some of these great free photo-editing tools to enhance and beautify your images. The device that’s best for you will depend on your experience, needs, and which one you find most intuitive. You and your pictures have nothing to lose and everything to gain.