Lightroom Videos

Video – Lightroom Before and After (Portrait)

I’ve got another before/after video for you this week. First off, you can watch the video in the player directly on the site but I also put a link to this one at the bottom of this post if you want to download a full size version of the video. I just thought this one needs to be seen a little larger. Back to the video – the response to the last before/after video was pretty overwhelming (nearly 200 comments) so I kinda picked up on the fact that you guys like before/afters. This time I picked a portrait instead of a landscape photo and I think it presents some interesting challenges of things we can/can’t do in Lightroom. Of course we’ll be jumping into Photoshop as well, for some filters and selections. Enjoy!

Click here to download the Video

Click here to download the Full-Res Video



  1. David Tan 27 September, 2010 at 05:39 Reply

    Thanks for the video Matt… It was a really great help. I hope you do come up with more before & after videos and maybe do another portrait with a another subject inside.


  2. Andrew Kerr 20 June, 2010 at 03:17 Reply

    Hey Matt!

    Have only just started watching your killer-tips and I absolutely love them! So helpful! I have found these before/ after tips perhaps the most helpful. The workflow and the cross photoshop tips. Brilliant!

    Andy (from Australia)

  3. Jussi, Finland 1 August, 2009 at 12:28 Reply

    I found this video very helpfull, I really enjoy watching your tutorials. But what I would like to see is What do you normally do with the eyes. Because usually when I retouch my photos I find it quite difficult to make the eyes pop out, yet still look natural.

    Have a pleasant summer


  4. Tim 25 July, 2009 at 19:50 Reply

    I just discovered your site, and I’m already picking up some great little tips. I think I have a flaw with my Lightroom, and I wonder if you’ve ever encountered it before. The little “buttons” (that allow you to go back and make changes to the various adjustment brushes you have applied) have never appeared on my screen. I have the most recent version of Lightroom 2, and these “buttons” (don’t know what else to call them) have never once appeared since I installed the software. Is there a setting somewhere that I can’t find?

    I’ve thought about deleting and reinstalling the software, but I wouldn’t really know the procedure for getting my library all set up again. Can you help? Have you ever heard of this problem?


  5. mik 14 July, 2009 at 13:10 Reply

    Hi, thanks for this tutorial, this was the first i´ve seen and i´ll be def. watch the others..i wonder if you can record another one on portraits and show how to bring “catchlights” in the eyes of the subject if there are any like in this particular image on the tutorial..would bring more life into the subject right 🙂 and one more, if you talking/using those shortcuts, is it possible that you make a extra text list or those you used in the tutorial and post it as comment under the video whit some short desciption ? thanks again 🙂 michael

  6. John 8 July, 2009 at 12:07 Reply

    Great ‘how to do vid’. could you do some ‘why you’re doing it vids’. I can see from the before and after that the after looks better, but if I had the starting photo, I’d think it was good and wouldn’t think of making any of the changes you did. i.e. what makes a photo look good and how to spot what you can do to it?

  7. Naomi 10 June, 2009 at 01:30 Reply

    Thank You sou so much! I am currently learning lightroom 2 for my job and the questions that I had were extensively covered in this video. Thank you once again. Keep up the good work.

  8. Matt 5 June, 2009 at 23:52 Reply

    Thanks for the great tutorial. Love the Before & After as well as the round-tripping between LR and PS. Learned a lot!

  9. PB 27 May, 2009 at 04:35 Reply

    Matt, Another GREAT tutorial!! A quick question: do you have a set of LR presets that mimic camera settings (landscape, neutral, portrait, standard, vivid) for those of us who do not have RAW capabilities, such as the white balance presets you made available for download?

  10. David 27 May, 2009 at 00:00 Reply

    My first tutorial from your site and already I’m blown away. Thanks for sharing – where have you been! Particulaly like the adjustment brush in lightroom. So valuable, had no idea it existed.

    Also loved the transitioning between the two programs.

    Also agree about the tablet. I have one but am so used to using a mouse the tablet seems annoying. For instance it does not fill the size of the circle I select.


  11. Al 25 May, 2009 at 21:10 Reply

    Well thank you very much. Alway great to follow along with you. Speaking of which, could you go into more depth on the tablet you are using, and then please show a little of how it is used. Maybe pushing it, could you also make a sugestion on what you would use or do use.

    Thanks Matt.

  12. Len 24 May, 2009 at 12:02 Reply


    I have been a long time follower, and l love the new before and after clips. A great way to share your creative gifts.

  13. Gail 23 May, 2009 at 21:13 Reply

    enjoyed your tutorial… after watching wanted to try it myself, but.. instantly lost at first step… I have Lightroom 2 and when I go to camera calibration the drop down menu has ONLY two choices ACR 4.4 and 4.2, I do not have the long list you do.

    How do I get that?

  14. Dan 23 May, 2009 at 07:28 Reply

    Matt, Another GREAT tutorial!! A quick question: do you have a set of LR presets that mimic camera settings (landscape, neutral, portrait, standard, vivid) for those of us who do not have RAW capabilities, such as the white balance presets you made available for download?

  15. James 22 May, 2009 at 12:44 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    I’m not one to really post on message boards, but I wanted you know how much I learn from these before and after tutorial and I hope you do more in the future. Showing how to work between Lightroom and Photoshop, for me at least, makes them seem a little less daunting and eager to toy with the different options in both. It’s great to see how you take an “okay” photo and turn it into a really great photo.

    Thanks so much


  16. Neil McClennan 22 May, 2009 at 08:24 Reply

    Excellent video with some great tips. It’s extremely useful to see your entire workflow for an image, and your thought processes as you tweak different settings. More please!

  17. KCDale 21 May, 2009 at 14:44 Reply

    Thanks for the video Matt! I really appreciate you sharing your knowledge with the masses. I would also like to thank you for posting the high resolution version with was amazing.

    I found your site randomly today, and I am blown away. You now have a top spot in my RSS reader!

  18. bnovakhill photographics 20 May, 2009 at 19:03 Reply

    Thanks a ton for all the stuff you do with this site. Has shaved so much time from my workflow and made my pictures better. I’ve watched almost all your videos, but these before and afters are my favorites. Your demonstration of the localized adjustments and Photoshop integration were super helpful! I am now going to apply what I learned to some sets I caught last Saturday. Thank you again.

  19. Bud 20 May, 2009 at 16:10 Reply

    Thanks for the videos Matt. The last 2.5 min of this video didn’t have any audio nor any video (video was stuck). The video time was showing that QT was playing the rest of the video though.

  20. Rogier 20 May, 2009 at 10:34 Reply

    Hi Matt,
    Tx for the video. The enhanced quality is very helpful – as is this tutorial. Can I support the request that next time when you do this you also post the image so we can follow you along? I understand a picture of your family is a little personal, but surely you have other images to use?
    Thanks in advance.
    From Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

  21. Jeff 19 May, 2009 at 10:33 Reply


    Is using smart objects the way you did in the video considered non-destructive? If so, why not use smart objects all the time when bringing photos in from LR?

  22. Keith Aquino 19 May, 2009 at 07:52 Reply

    Dude, great tutorial!

    Haven’t tried localised correction in photoshop, but don’t you think it would be easier to use the an adjustment brush with the auto-mask on?

    Although, thanks for showing me an alternative to the adjustment brush. I will definitely try your method. 😀


  23. Jase 19 May, 2009 at 04:04 Reply

    Hi Matt – this is INCREDIBLY helpful!!
    Bring em on!! 🙂 Thanks for all your great tips – the most useful lightroom site there is – bar none.

    Cheers, Jase

  24. zac 19 May, 2009 at 03:53 Reply

    hey matt,

    great job on the vid, giving the people what they want! it had a little attitude in places and i loved it! your destructiveness is pretty crazy, like the polar opposite of j. caponigro!

    thanks for showing the usefulness and realy the brilliance of bouncing back and forth between apps. i don’t know why people love to use just one,unles that is all that they have.

    thanks for all your work and good to follow you on TWITTER!! what’s for breakfast?

  25. Gina 19 May, 2009 at 00:10 Reply

    Matt, I was just wondering why you never decrease your brightness since it seems to wash photos out so much and is not coming from RAW data but LR settings. is there a reason you don’t do this? Is it destructive? I was told never to increase exposure but to use the brightness and also the highlights, lights, darks, and shadows instead. Any ideas on this?
    Thanks so much!
    PS i still just exposure adjustments, but I also adjust the brightness quite often cuz I find it washes out my pictures quite a bit from my D300.

  26. Heather 18 May, 2009 at 18:31 Reply

    Hey Matt, I apologize, my question has nothing to do with this post but I’m hoping you can help me out? I have just discovered that I was only “removing” junk images from Lightroom and not deleting them and now my hard drive is loaded with thousands of junk images still. (mainly from weddings) Is there a search or a way to find out which images have been removed from the original files folders or do you have a suggestion of where to begin w/o having compare every single frame to see if I saved it or tossed it.

    Thanks for reading, Heather

  27. Mike 18 May, 2009 at 13:08 Reply

    Matt, I just got around to watching this vid….great stuff, man. Thanks for using a “real world” photo for this, there are indeed people who shoot this type of photo instead of studio work. Your efforts are much appreciated, please keep ’em coming!

    Warm Regards,

  28. Pshaw-Photo 18 May, 2009 at 11:21 Reply

    What I especially like about these videos is that you teach us all that we need to know to accomplish a specific task without bogging us down in stuff we seldom or never use. Some of the steps are also usable on other projects. PS4 and LR2 have so many features that it is impossible to learn them all. Watching an unfocused tutorial is mind numbing and I forget what I have learned before the video ends. Your tutorials are just the thing to get me going. I save them and the next time I need to do that task, I review it.

  29. Edgar Walther 18 May, 2009 at 09:21 Reply

    Hi Matt,
    Do you know a way to see in the exif info whether the vibration reduction (or Image stabilization) was turned on or off when the picture was taken? I think it is recorded by the camera, but I cannot see it in Lightroom. Thanks! Edgar

    • Dave Downs 26 February, 2011 at 19:34 Reply

      Greetings –

      I am trying to figure out if/how to see whether or not vibration reduction (or image stabilization) was active for a given image, when viewing that image in Lightroom.

      Can anyone help me out, with this?

      — Dave DOwns

  30. Rachel 18 May, 2009 at 01:20 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    I heard you mention that you were using a pen & tablet while making some of the finer adjustments in this tutorial. Can you please share any tips or advice you’d have for what to look for when buying a graphic tablet. It never occurred to me to use one while editing! (Seems so obivous now!) Anyways, I plan on just using it for photo editing and have no idea as to what size or tech specs to look for. If you can help it would great!

  31. Sara 17 May, 2009 at 11:33 Reply

    The tutorial was great… It clearly shows the value of using photoshop with lightroom, and how each application brings its advantages. I also love the lens blur…

    I did have a question….When you make a selection in photoshop, was your selection feathered? When do you feather and when do you not?

    (This might not be the right forum for this, but thought I’d ask…)

    Thanks, Sara

  32. Cindy 16 May, 2009 at 17:36 Reply

    Hey Matt- would you mind posting your images (either low res- or watermarked) so that we can use them to practice your techniques-especially with the before and afters. Being a visual and hands on person, I need to practice the technique so that I don’t forget it. Sometimes I may not have an image that I think fits the tutorial being given at the time, yet I want to practice it so that it will be in my memory bank for later. Thanks also for giving the high-res video. Do you ever sleep? You are a busy man. Cindy

  33. Ken Powell 16 May, 2009 at 14:30 Reply


    I can’t echo enough what everyone else has said about the increased video quality!! It makes is so much more easy to see subtle changes that you often make along the way.

    I really like that you do not do a “text book” presentation, rather it is a “Hey, this is how _I_ do it.” It is kind of like sitting and looking over your shoulder and pressing my ear up to yours to hear what you are thinking 🙂

    I am going to the Lightroom 2 Tour in Portland on Friday. It will be cool to sit at the feet of Scott. Just wish that you were there as well but I imagine that there are rules against you and Scott traveling and being in the same place, at the same time, for NAPPtional security reasons.


  34. BuckeyeYank 16 May, 2009 at 14:08 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    One quick request – can you use/discuss the histogram a little more in your tutorials. I think it would be especially useful when you’re making the exposure adjustments. I think you’re going by what looks right to you when you make the adjustments – would you be willing to show us what is happening with the histogram when you’re improving the look of the pics?


  35. Nick 16 May, 2009 at 13:11 Reply

    I have watched all your videos and learn more each time.
    The high resolution version makes it crystal clear what alterations you are making and the before and after format shows your work flow wonderfully.
    Keep them coming!

  36. jose 16 May, 2009 at 11:51 Reply

    Thanks for the video Matt. And especially thanks for the quality of it. I was missing your videos had more image quality. Hope you keep up the good work


  37. Darryl 16 May, 2009 at 10:14 Reply

    Matt – Another great tutorial….just one quick question any tips on making that quick selection when the subject is not so contrast against the background??

  38. Dennis Zito 16 May, 2009 at 09:25 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    Another fantastic video! The Smart Object move is a great tool and I plan on trying it in the future. I just got CS 4 and I’m still learning how it works.

    Oh, will you be with Scott in Denver for the Lightroom Live? It would be great to meet you!



  39. Katerina 16 May, 2009 at 03:15 Reply

    Your work is amazing.
    Can you recomed a lab that does all that for us amatures? A lab that know what needs to be done and how to make it better.The problem is that even if i spend the time to learn the softwear, I just can’t tell what needs to be done by looking at the pic. I would of never thought about light up her dress or changing the color of the sky on your previous video. Who can do ll that for me?

  40. Dilip Barman 16 May, 2009 at 00:38 Reply

    Thanks. I am glad that you showed how you first tweak the camera settings; I do the same. Other than that and noise reduction (which ideally I’d like to do earlier in the workflow, but for convenience when I get significant noise, I do afterwards with Noise Ninja), I usually more or less follow develop changes from top to bottom. Thanks!

  41. Demosthien 15 May, 2009 at 20:21 Reply

    Hi Matt, really enjoy your videos and am learning a whole lot from you. I generally download and watch rme on my iPhone while out and about. But this episode won’t download or play. Was wondering if you’ve done something different with the video this time?

  42. Erol 15 May, 2009 at 19:27 Reply

    These videos are perfect for people like me.
    Learning by doing… great! Just learning the functions (especially in PS) which are really helpful for my “low-time-working-under-pressure-but-get-perfect-photos-workflow”. I don’t have time for study big PS books but I really like photos looking perfect to me. You know… the photos all family members saying “wow…what a nice photo…all your photos looks so professional…how do you do that???…wow!!!
    I call them “Family-WOW-Effect-Photos”
    Thanks producing that kind of videos.
    Can’t wait for the next b/a one.

  43. anita 15 May, 2009 at 16:34 Reply

    Matt –
    Could you talk about Capture NX2, how it differs from LR2 and how you use them in conjunction with one another? (here, or on DTOWN TV). Thanks.

  44. Mike 15 May, 2009 at 15:54 Reply

    Matt –

    Thank you very much for posting the video. It is really great to see just how straightforward some of the tasks can be.

    I have noticed a few posts regarding Photoshop Elements. Like some of those folks, I am a beginner and cannot really justify a full Photoshop license.

    Is there any chance that you could do a similar before and after using a combination of LR and PSE?

    Thanks and keep up the fantastic tutorials!

  45. Tony 15 May, 2009 at 15:49 Reply

    I have to agree – another great tutorial. Along with many others the before/after type tutorial, I find very useful. I especially like seeing the interaction between LR and PS, and the benefits of using smart objects is something I can now see can be really useful. Please keep up the great work and I too look forward to seeing the next before and after.

  46. Mike Paterson 15 May, 2009 at 12:21 Reply


    Thanks so much for another great video. It’s just awesome to walk through the process with you.

    I love the choice you made on lenses. My wife and I both shoot and struggle during family and friend get togethers. We want to get great shots, but I sometimes feel like relationships are sacrificed when you are constantly trying to switch to the “right” lens for each shot. I don’t mean to go on a rant, I just really appreciate your sense of priorities. I know it’s hard for the photographers to hear, but sometimes I think we need to be willing to put the camera down (or simplify it with having one “go to” lens) so that we don’t miss out on living life with those who are important to us. Having the shot is awesome, it’s a great way to remember, I just want to remember living life together and not just remember getting a good shot.

    Ok, I have stepped off of the soap box. My apologies.

    Thanks again,

  47. mattk 15 May, 2009 at 11:51 Reply

    Hey Rob W – First off. I make 10 bajillion not 5. If you’re going to quote my salary get it right 🙂
    Next, I do have a 70-200 2.8. This was Easter Sunday with my family and I put my walk-around lens on (18-200) whenever I do that. I actually mentioned this at 10:50 in the video and acknowledged that this was the price I paid for not putting that lens on. But hey, it’s real world. I see WAY more people walking around with the non-2.8 lenses then I do a 70-200 so hopefully some folks found the trick useful.

    – Matt K

  48. Jeff Powell 15 May, 2009 at 11:21 Reply

    Another great vid, thank you! And I like seeing the integration of LR with PS, it just makes since in many cases.

  49. Jeff 15 May, 2009 at 11:21 Reply


    I am new to this site and love it. I reviewed both of your before and afters and they are great. What I am taking from them is that opening as a smart object in CS4 is basically allowing you to keep working with the RAW engine, but being able to make better selection that LR is not (yet?) capable of doing. Is that about right?

  50. Rob W. 15 May, 2009 at 10:01 Reply

    Here’s a tip for mat on getting that great depth of field without having to use the Lens Blur filter…

    Buy a 70-200 f/2.8! What, you make like 5 bajillion dollars from your seminars and you can’t drop $1800 on some glass? Come on! 🙂

    In all seriousness, loved the video — before and afters are always a great help for learning new techniques…

  51. Carsten 15 May, 2009 at 09:10 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    really cool video again. One question, the edited file is a .tif-file, is there any reason, why you save as tif and not as psd?

    Greetings from Germany


  52. Raymond H 15 May, 2009 at 08:26 Reply

    I love it! You’re before/after video’s are really useful to help me understand how it is done! Great!

    I only have PS-CS, so I cannot do all that smart object stuff. I guess there’s a way to do it, though not as elegantly with CS.

    Thanks again… Raymond.

  53. Jogge 15 May, 2009 at 07:12 Reply

    Hi Matt!

    You’re a great teacher! Enjoyed your lessons, really! Keep that before/after-videos coming! Am learning great on LR and PS, too!

    Thank you soooo much!

    Cheers, Jogge

  54. Michael Bowyer 15 May, 2009 at 06:25 Reply

    Matt, another great video. I will definately be using your tips.

    I only wish I could get the install to work for photoshop CS4…..


  55. Mike Weeks 15 May, 2009 at 06:05 Reply

    Matt – Great video and even I could follow the Photoshop bit although my budget only stretched to Elements 7, so my question is this…. I know I can go from LR2 to Edit in Elements (as you did PS in this video) but how do I save it back from Elements so I can the finished result in LR2? Cannot find any hints or tips in either mr Kelby’s LR2 book (he just covers PS) and your combined effort on Elements 7.

    Sorry if this is fundamental or such a beginners type question but that’s exactly what I am.



  56. Iain King 15 May, 2009 at 03:58 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks for another great tutorial – really loving the before/after thing. Very useful to see how you manage the interaction between LR and PS. Smart objects is something I’ve not really used that much. Look forward to seeing the next before and after.

  57. Enrico 15 May, 2009 at 03:23 Reply

    Hey another great b/a video, those are really interesting keep going with that! Really nice work Matt.

  58. Kevin Tran 15 May, 2009 at 02:01 Reply

    Hey Matt ! Great tutorial ! Thanks for sharing it.

    Just a quick question :
    How do you zoom out like you did at the beginning of the video ?
    Like you are at 1:1 and zoom out to 1:2 or something like that. I just can’t do it 🙁
    If I want to switch it always makes it from fill to 1:1 or 1:2 but never from 1:1 to 1:2…

    Any help ?

  59. CW 14 May, 2009 at 22:22 Reply

    I’d suggest you’re misallocating post time even though the video is a demonstration. For example, when capturing the image expose for the brightness in the scene, which isn’t the girl, adjust Kelvin for the girl, and use just off axis fill light managed by TTL. Then spend the time in post opening her eyes and making them pop. I think the result would be a better picture with more accurate colors. (I disagree with you lens choice for this shot). Just playing the devils advocate 🙂

  60. Sean 14 May, 2009 at 16:55 Reply

    Thanks Matt, great stuff! Very useful to see the strengths of both programs at work, especially how to return to PS after with the layers intact. Keep up the great work!

  61. mattk 14 May, 2009 at 15:34 Reply

    Hi Erin,
    The difference is basically exactly what I did in the tutorial. I was able to double click, edit back in Camera Raw and automatically go back into Photoshop. I didn’t have to manually re-open and save files or anything like that. There’s no quality difference or anything like that – its just me being lazy.

    Thanks everyone!
    – Matt K

  62. Erin 14 May, 2009 at 15:32 Reply

    Great video tutorial. I’ve been working with LR and CS4, but I’ve never opened up my files as a smart object. What is the difference between editing as a smart object and straight editing in CS4? What are the benefits to doing so?


  63. Ed Macke 14 May, 2009 at 15:29 Reply

    I’d like to second the motion of explaining the “why” behind some of the steps. For example, I usually think of vignetting as something you’d want to get rid of, yet you purposely *added* vignetting.

    In the end, it was a nice effect, but a few words about why you would do that and typical situations where that effect works and doesn’t work would be great.

    Keep up the great work – it’s a real help and inspiration.

  64. Zach 14 May, 2009 at 15:12 Reply

    Matt, thank you so much. I had no idea that you could move so freely back and forth between Lightroom and Photoshop. This tip will not only help me make my portraits stand out and look better but also cut down in my work flow time.

  65. anita 14 May, 2009 at 14:37 Reply

    Matt, what a cute little girl. Thanks for letting us watch you work, please do more before and afters.

  66. Antonio 14 May, 2009 at 13:53 Reply

    Hi Matt, thanks so much.
    I’ve a question: your workflow in Lr e Ps its possible whith Lr and PS element?.

  67. Aravind Krishnaswamy 14 May, 2009 at 13:17 Reply

    Great instructional video Matt and thanks for sharing your workflow. One quick note, once you have selected the background, ‘Refine Edge’ is your friend and will help with those border areas with the hair. Also Refine Edge is available regardless of how the selection was made (Quick Select, Magic Wand, Lasoo, etc…).

  68. Josh 14 May, 2009 at 12:27 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    Not sure of the proper lines of communication for this, and I sent the same message using the “feedback’ link at photoshop user tv, but I think I spotted one of your images being used in an ad and I just wanted to let you know.

    That’s the link to the blog post and if you look at the picture for “sling player,” it looks like they’re using a picture of a football player I saw you use for a tutorial in one of your older episodes of photoshop user tv.

    Just wanted to give you a heads up incase this image was actually yours.

    Thanks for everything you guys (Scott, Dave, RC, Moose, Joe….) do. Keep up the good work.


  69. JohnF 14 May, 2009 at 12:23 Reply

    I can’t agree with you more. Use LR for its strengths, and PS for its. The key is to figuring out what those specific strengths are – and you demonstrated that “brilliantly”. I’ve been thinking recently about Kelby’s 7-Point system. I wonder what he would change, given the updates to CR and LR, and how he would shift where he does what today ? Maybe a thought for a future video ?

  70. JoeH 14 May, 2009 at 12:07 Reply


    You’ve given me some inspiration to try some work like this on some of my “snapshots”.

    I also have to agree with comment above: What makes these compelling is the “why” you are doing things, not just a “select this, click that, drag a slider” demonstration.

  71. Steve 14 May, 2009 at 11:56 Reply

    Thanks for another great Video. I am very glad you showed your workflow in both Lightroom and Photoshop. I would be happy to see a few more before/after videos – keep them coming!

  72. James 14 May, 2009 at 11:46 Reply

    Well, you’ve gone and done it again! Brilliant instructional video with great insight.

    Sssh don’t tell anyone but I went and bought your Photoshop Layers book after watching the last one. For me the combination of Lightroom and PS is compelling, and your videos show that when used together they are very complementary.

    How about a before/after looking at sharpening in more detail next? I love listening to your reasoning when choosing to do specific enhancements.

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