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Common Photo Editing Mistakes to Avoid

Photography is not only equipment and talent; post-processing is also an integral part of getting a perfect photo. A simple image can indeed be made extraordinary by editing, however, it can also make it look unflattering if not done properly. Worry not, this basic guide covers common photo editing mistakes to avoid at all costs for getting better results.

Do not edit the Original

In the list of common photo editing mistakes to avoid, editing the original will always be the first one. This is known as destructive editing and it also means that if too many changes are made on the original, there is a limit to the ‘undo’ feature. You lose your original image and if any mistake occurs, there is no backup. Fortunately, there is a simple way to avoid this by using layers and by duplicating your original image.

Calibrate Your Monitor

Not calibrating your monitor can also be called destructive in terms of your time and productivity. It would be pretty annoying to spend hours on those tricky colors only to find out that your monitor was not calibrated properly. Therefore, as a thumb rule, always calibrate before your editing session. Another method of ensuring it is by using different screens such as your mobile phone or laptop to preview the image. This will give you a general idea of color appearance. Also, use a high-definition screen for editing, if possible.

Shoot in RAW - Common Photo Editing Mistakes

Not shooting in RAW is one of the common photo editing mistakes to avoid even before the editing process. The first thing to remember is the difference between RAW and JPEG formats. RAW is a lossless format meaning that it retains all the information without camera interference, whereas, JPEG processes the image in favor of a smaller size. If you want to have total control over the editing of the image, you will want to shoot in RAW.
Shooting in RAW - Common photo editing Mistakes in editing

Understanding Editing Options

The gravest mistake in editing by beginners is not understanding the software they are using. Although, you will only learn by practicing, however, it is better to have a basic understanding of the features you are going to use. The first thing to remember is that there are many ways a simple function can be applied. For instance, blur has about 14 different types including radial, gaussian, field, iris, and lens, etc. So, you should at least know the difference between subclasses of the functions to get the desired result.

Too High or Low Contrast

Although it may be true that contrast adds an organic definition to the image and makes it appear real. However, playing with it too much can make your images rather unpleasing. Firstly, when you increase contrast, the dark parts get darker while the white parts get whiter. After a certain threshold, the image will start losing details. On the other hand, low contrast decreases the distinction between objects and makes your images flat. You can avoid this mistake in editing using layers.

HDR Overkill - Common Photo Editing Mistakes

In addition to contrast, another one of the common photo editing mistakes to avoid is using too much HDR. It handles the dynamic range of the image in ways that can be naturally impossible. HDR processes the image by increasing the details of shadows and highlights. Although, properly using it can create astonishing results, however, too much can lead to the image looking fake.


Another key point while doing the editing is to understand that editing should not be done at the expense of realness. Over-saturation is among common photo editing mistakes which can affect the tone of the skin, colors, etc. Although it is used to bring back lost hues in the image, a better way is to use Vibrancy instead of it. It will help you get a similar result while also avoiding too much-tanned skin tone.

Bokeh Effect - Common Photo Editing Mistakes

In recent years, bokeh or the blur effect has become widely popular. It indeed makes images appear aesthetically pleasing, but a good lens should be used for this purpose. Doing this in software can cause the edges to blur as well making it very unpleasing. 

Too much Bokeh - mistakes in editing

Photo edited in Lightroom.

Over-Smooth Skin and Too Bright Eyes

While we are discussing common photo editing mistakes to avoid while enhancing skin, it is important to talk about smoothness as well. Of course, we are obsessed with our skin looking milky smooth, however, exaggerating it can make it appear as plastic or artificial. Therefore, it is better to not go overboard with it. Another mistake in editing regarding human features is making eyes and teeth too much bright. We usually do this to make these features stand out and make the image more flattering. However, too much brightness can be extremely distracting, therefore it is better to keep it in sync with the rest of the image.

Learn from Professionals

One of the biggest reasons that beginners make such basic mistakes is when they haven’t properly learned to edit. Using the best software such as Photoshop and Lightroom is also recommended. With the amazing courses on Lightroom and Photoshop tutorials, you will become a true expert in photo editing.

Conclusion - Common Photo Editing Mistakes

In summary, there is one common thing in all these photo editing mistakes to avoid i.e. excess of everything is bad. Keeping inside the thresholds will keep your images looking great, going overboard will result in some unpleasing images. However, everything goes in the learning process, therefore, play as much with every feature to get the hang of them. 

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Have a nice photoshoot! 

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