You’ll probably want to take a softly softly approach with female portraits, but male subjects usually demand a different style. Here are some Lightroom portrait tips for giving your pictures a more powerful, grittier feel.

Lightroom portrait tips

 

I want to give this outdoor shot (above) a grungy, contrasty look, and I’ve got a favourite set of adjustments in Lightroom that will do just that. I use them so often I’ve saved them as a preset. You can see the changes in the image with each step in the walkthrough below.

01 Go for Clarity

Lightroom portrait tips

The heart of this technique is the Clarity slider in the Basic panel. I’m pushing this all the way up to maximum, and this really brings out the contrasts between the different objects in the scene, though it’s also made the colours stronger, which isn’t really what I wanted…

02 Reduce the Saturation

Lightroom portrait tips

To put this right I reduce the Saturation value. I don’t want to lose the colour altogether, I just want it faded down a little.

03 More Contrast

Lightroom portrait tips

The Clarity adjustment on its own doesn’t quite give me the depth and contrast I’m looking for, so I usually increase the Contrast value too, especially in flat, overcast lighting like this.