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Photo Editing 101: How to Edit Photos

Learn the ins and outs of how to edit photos for all of your social media accounts.

Photography starts with exposure setting, framing, composition, and lighting. However, mastering camera settings is only part of the picture. To create excellent images, you also need to know how to edit. With the wide range of software, tools, and applications to choose from today, editing is not just for professional photographers. Everyone can learn to alter their pictures on a computer.

In some circles, editing photography has earned a bad reputation because of unrealistic, artificial-looking pictures that find their way onto social media. They rely on filters and other manipulations to create images that are not true to reality.

While editing can change the natural appearance of a photo to whatever the editor wishes, the goal is not necessarily to make a person or place look more impressive. Instead, editing photography can focus on correcting the settings and balances to make the scene look as realistic as possible. With good editing software, you have a second chance to fix these mistakes so that people can see the image as you did when taking the picture.

As you gain experience editing photos, you will realize that there are several tools available on many photo editing programs that you will use repeatedly. The good news is that you don't need expensive photo editing software to access these adjustments.

Here are some important photo editing tips to help you create great images on your computer.

How to edit photos

As you learn how to edit a picture, you will find that some tools will be more useful than others. Here is a look at ones that are often invaluable for creating excellent images.

Crop and resize the image

Cropping an image involves cutting out a portion of the picture to enhance the framing, drawing emphasis on a subject, or changing the aspect ratio. Resizing enables you to make the image larger or smaller without cutting any part. Cropping and resizing can be achieved by selecting the crop or resize button on the photo editing program and dragging the handle over the picture to the desired position or size. You typically execute the cut or resize by pressing the enter button.

Some programs have built-in aspect ratios, such as 4:3, 16:9, or 1:1 (square). These automatically resize or crop the image to fit the desired proportions. Exact measurements are essential if you are sizing the photos to fit in a space on a newsletter, website, email, or other publication.

Adjust exposure and contrast

Exposure affects how bright or dark an image is in relation to how it looks in reality. Meanwhile, contrast refers to the range of dark to light tones in an image.

If the camera's exposure settings are off while taking a photo, the resulting picture could have a blurry, dark, or overly light look that obscures the details.

Luckily, photo editing software typically allows you to modify both exposure and contrast after the fact. In many cases, you will find that adjusting the contrast and exposure levels to somewhere in the middle of their ranges will work much of the time. However, images with large shadowed areas may require more brightening and more aggressive contrast settings.

Adjust sharpness

Image sharpening is another impactful editing tool that helps to emphasize a photo's texture and focus. You can usually sharpen an image by selecting the sharpness button on a photo editing program and adjusting the overall amount of sharpness on a scale between 0 and 100. You should be able to see the effects of the sharpening as you move up and down the scale.

The sharpness tool will help you correct the blurring and restore the sharpness of an image. The results are especially noticeable on the edges of objects within the image.

Consider adding a filter

Another way to edit your photo to improve its quality is to use filters. Filters alter the look of an image by adjusting the shades and colors of the many pixels making up the picture. Most standard photo editing programs come with a wide range of filter options. While some of these can bring unrealistic enhancements, others can help you automatically adjust sharpness, white balance, brightness, and other settings to achieve a desired style.

Filters can also bring new textures, tones, colors, or special effects to your images. If you are editing photos for specific purposes, such as marketing, such enhancements may be useful.

Adjust white balance

Many photo editing tips focus on white balance. White balance measures color temperature to create natural hues. However, most cameras are set up to see a flash or bright sunlight as white. Pictures taken in a cloudy sky will look unnatural with this level of white balance. The same is true of indoor lighting.

You can typically adjust the settings in your camera, and some more-advanced systems will even set the white balance for you automatically based on color temperature readings.

If you don't get it right in the field, photo editing programs can help correct the issue after the fact. Some editing software comes with preset white balance modes. For example, you can choose daylight, cloudy, fluorescent, LED, or shade. The program will automatically adjust the white balance to match your selected conditions.

Image formatting sizes

Understanding the different image sizes and specifications is crucial when you are looking to upload pictures on social media.

Social media sites and web publishers have different image sizes and formatting requirements. Even if they don't, an incorrect image format or size may lead to distortion and stretching during upload. These restrictions can be especially important for getting social media ad sizes right.

How to use Mailchimp’s photo editor

Mailchimp Photo Editor that you can use to enhance and correct images in campaigns before adding them to an email. You can access these tools by clicking on the content studio icon and choosing the image you want to edit. Finally, you click the drop-down menu next to the view details button and select "edit image."

Here are some useful tools to consider:

  • Crop and Resize – This feature allows you to crop, resize, rotate or flip your image to make it work effectively with your layout. You open it by clicking on the crop or resize icon and choosing the type of action you want. You can then drag the handle over the picture until it covers the portion of the image you want to manipulate. Finally, you click Save to preserve your changes.
  • Filters – To use the filter editing option, choose the filter icon, then select the filter you want to apply. You can use the slider to adjust the filter intensity. When you're finished, click Save.
  • Add text – You can add text to an image. Start by clicking on the text design icon and choosing a color and font. You can create the text and position it on the photo with a handle. When it's just right, click Save.
  • Add Sticker – To add a sticker to your image, choose the sticker icon and click on the emoji or shape you want. You can move, resize, rotate, duplicate, or flip your addition and use a slider to adjust the opacity. You can use the special "new sticker" button to add another sticker before saving.
  • Use Brush – You can also use the brush feature to sketch or write over your image. Start by clicking on the brush icon, choosing the desired color and style. You can then use the tool to draw on the image before clicking on the save button.
  • Add Overlay – You can apply an overlay to your image by clicking on the Overlays icon, choosing an overlay you want, and then adjusting the intensity using the slider before saving your edits.

Add photos to your email campaign

Images can enhance an email campaign. Adding a product photograph can add another dimension to a marketing email and get readers' attention as soon as they open it. In addition to its photo editor, Mailchimp offers image content blocks to easily format the picture and combine it with your text.

Mailchimp is unique among email marketing programs in that it offers image editing, allowing users to do everything necessary to get pictures and text ready for their campaign without having to use other programs.

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