The importance of being tidy…

Hey guys,

Today’s little insight into how we work looks at identifying, and fixing, anything that’s distracting in the image.

Our first step is to try & minimise these distractions in-camera.

We once heard a tutorial where a photographer was saying “If you ever catch yourself thinking while you’re taking a shot ‘I’ll just fix that in Photoshop later’ – stop, give yourself a slap in the face, go & move whatever is in the way, and then take the shot“. And we’ve taken that on board! It’s amazing what moving a few picture frames off the wall, or sliding a couch out of the way, or picking up those few bits of rubbish on the beach, can do.

You can spend 5 seconds picking up a piece of rubbish in your background, or you can open each & every image in Photoshop, clone it out, save, close…. bet you anything in the world it’s going to take you much longer.

Sometimes, though, we need to do this cleanup post capture.

Whenever we look at an image in the post-production stages, before we apply any toning, or dodge / burn, or anything… is to identify distracting elements that draw our eye away from the subject. Then, we can look at how to minimise them.

Here’s an example shot.

Photoshop before & after


What we’ve done here is take basically anything that wasn’t a vertical line (lightswitches, hinges, things on the roof), and removed them. We did this using a combination of the patch & clone stamp tools.

It’s not strictly necessary – and the level of editing we do for our blog / album images – not every single shot… but you can immediately see the effect. A much more simple, clean image, and your eye is drawn straight to the subject.


Here’s another.

Queenstown wedding photos


The first thing we noticed was the tops of the grape vines sticking into the bottom of the picture, and also the fence running through the same plane as the couple.

Because these objects are close to the subject (and the vines are a strong, dominant colour) – they draw your eye away. Again – a combination of patch & clone tools was good to remove these. Next, we’ve burned in the bottom edge where the loose dirt is, and also darkened some of the field & sky around them. Not so much that it’s a blatant “spotlight” on the couple, but enough that your eye now goes straight to them. We finished off with a colour tone.


So take the time to assess your image, and ask yourself “what elements are distracting my eye away from the subject?” and then “can this be fixed, or at least reduced?”.


Hopefully you’ve found this useful – leave us a comment below if so!

Also, let us know any education topics you’d like covered in the future, and we’ll see what we can do.

Isaac & Amber.