Friday, April 2, 2010

Photos that Pop? Get in on the Action!

As a designer of digital scrapbook products, I've always felt that the photos we take of our beloved family and friends should always be the central focus of our layouts, not the designs we dress them up in. After all, design trends come and go, but photos are forever.

One way to make your photos really POP is with Photoshop actions.  If you look around at some of the gorgeous photography blogs out there created by avid 'mama-razzi' photographers,  you'll find that a lot of these photographers are using actions or plugins on their digital photos to get incredible results, often with the touch of a button. Let me show you one example (below).

Here is an adorable digital photo of my new nephew, Bondi, that my sister sent me this week from Australia.
I wanted to bring out the magic in the shot, and thanks to actions, I knew I could do this with just a few simple steps in Photoshop.

You can find all kinds of portrait pop actions for free on the internet. It's just a matter of trying them to see what  you like. First, use an action that makes the photo pop (lightens, and works on contrast issues), then use one that has a softening, skin smoothing effect (but don't overdo it here).

Here is the recipe I used for this shot. Keep in mind that you may need to adjust to suit the needs of your photo. If you're not sure about how to load an action or use one, google for tutorials (don't worry, it's really easy).
1. Run 'Color Boost' Action by Shannon Beauford, available for free here:
2. Run a plugin on from Topaz Labs called Adjust 4 ('portrait smooth' or 'simplify' preset), available from . They are a bit pricey, but they do have a free trial version.
One of my favorite FREE plugins for portrait effects is 'Virtual Photographer' from OptikVerve Labs available at And of course there is always which has an incredible array of free Photoshop actions (always check their terms of use).

So, now you can get in on a little action and rev up the 'OOooh' factor on your photos
BTW ... isn't he adorable? Totally LOVE that hair!!!