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A Quick Portrait “Finishing Move” in Lightroom


Hi Gang (and Happy Monday). 🙂

This isn’t some earth-shattering Lightroom secret or anything, but it’s something that I do to a lot of my portraits, kind of as a finishing move, and while it’s subtle, I think it’s important. I get a lot of questions about these finishing moves, so I thought I’d share this one here today. It’s about a very quick way to brighten just your subject’s face, which is something (as I said), I do a lot. The original image is above.


STEP ONE: Get the Adjustment Brush; double-click on the word “Effects” to reset all the sliders to zero. Now I drag the Exposure slider to the right to about +1.00 or so (doesn’t have to be exact at this point), and I paint over the subject’s entire face and the top part of their neck (as shown here).


STEP TWO: Now I drag the Exposure slider back to the left until the lighting looks realistic (usually that +1.00 is too much), and in this case, it looked about right to me at+ 0.57. This bit of brightening does three things: (1) it helps create a look of “fall off” in your lighting (2) it draws your subject’s eyes to your subject’s face, and (3) brightening the face is usually somewhat to very flattering to your subject.


Above: here’s a before (left) and after (right) to adding that little bit of extra light on the face.

OK, that’s all there is to it (told you it wasn’t an earth-shaking technique, but if you like it, and it makes your portraits look even a little better, it’s worth it, right?).

Hope you find that helpful.

Take care,