You’ve probably noticed there’s been a trend for editing portraits lately that favors a bright, high key look. While there is some visual appeal to processing portraits this way since it gives them an eye-catching, ethereal color palette there are some trade-offs to this method.
For one, those “airy” highlights you see in portraits on Instagram have very little detail since they’ve been virtually “blown out” in post processing.
There’s a better way to color grade your portraits though that gives them some pop without destroying detail in the brightest areas. Photographer and software pro Justin Laurens shows you how by sharing his “game changing” color-grade method in the video below.
“You may have heard of the high key or bright and airy color grade before,” Laurens says. “And, as beautiful as this effect may be, it has just two problems. One, it blows out all your precious detail in the highlights and two it washes away all the awesome colors in your photo, especially in your model’s skintones. But what if I were to tell you that there was a much better way? A best of both worlds technique that allows you to create the stunning bright and airy look all whilst retaining and even enhancing the colors in frame.”
That’s exactly what he teaches you in the video below where he explains the “bright, airy and vibrant color grade technique.” Here’s a breakdown of the three steps he discusses below.
Step 1: Adjust (Initial Adjustments)
Step 2: Refine (Selective Color, Curves)
Step 3: Enhance (Camera Raw Filter)