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One Easy Step to Make Your Photos Look More Professional
Photography Ideas, Technique

One easy step to make your photos look more professional

Yes, that is right. One easy step to make your photos look more professional! I’m not saying this is the one and only thing you need to do to make them look more professional, I’m just saying this is one quick thing that can make a huge difference in your images.

Remove the distractions.

I know I have said it before and I will say it again.

You want to make sure that everything in the frame is relevant to the story you are trying to tell.

If you look at professional photographer’s images you will notice that they are clear of any distraction that would pull your eye away from their subject.

As a mom of two little ones whose house is hardly ever clean this is a challenge for me. I love stuff on my walls but they can be quite distracting in pictures. Did you know that each week when I take my pregnancy photo, I take a huge framed family photo off my wall so I can have a blank wall? I don’t have blank walls in my house.

I am often throwing crap from one side of the room to another so I can have less distractions in my images. Yes, it would probably make more sense to pick the stuff up and put it away but sometimes, I have about 20 seconds before my kids stop whatever they are doing so I have to be quick.

Sometimes you don’t realize until after you take the image how distracting something is. Luckily, Lightroom and other editing software has the ability to remove distractions for you. Come back tomorrow where I will show you how to remove these distractions in Lightroom.

If you know you have a certain shot in mind then set up the scene. I knew I wanted to take some pictures of my daughter reading in her room this day. She reads like this daily but normally her room has junk on the dresser, bookshelf, the bed isn’t made and there are toys everywhere. I spent about 10 minutes putting all that stuff in my room (again, I know I should have put it away). I then invited her back into her to room to read her books. It made for some lovely pictures without all the distractions of clothes and toys on the floor.

Sometimes the distractions are part of your house. In the image below she was reading in the hallway which has lovely light. I didn’t like all the air vents and lights pulling your eye away from the subject. Also, you can see a little bit of what was outside the door. Not important to the image. Just clone them out!

Kate was day dreaming and I didn’t have time to wipe off the table. Those crumbs just bothered me to death though.

In this image, I could have taken the picture off the wall but I didn’t notice that until I uploaded my images. The floor lamp I was not moving and another item I didn’t even notice how distracting it was until again, I uploaded the images.

This one is my darling nephew at his 1 year old birthday party. His brother was standing close by. You will often hear me tell people “get out of my shot”. I have even heard Kate repeating this. However, I wasn’t quick enough to move older brother when he made that adorable face.

Another example of how I didn’t examine the frame close enough before I snapped the image.

There is a time and a place where “stuff” is important to your image. In the first picture, I wanted to show what happens when I walk away and Emma decides to turn the toy bin into a “boat.” The second one is the aftermath of Christmas morning. I wanted to capture all the chaos and stuff they had received. All those distractions help to tell my story.

Learn how to remove distractions in Lightroom

Lightroom 4 spot remove tool

Lightroom 5 spot removal tool

Don’t forget to take an extra minute to clear your frame and save yourself some time editing!

42 Comments
  • January 17, 2012 at 9:04 AM

    That Christmas tree in a burlap sack makes me happy. And, the clone tool is one of my best friends!

    • January 17, 2012 at 9:11 AM

      HA! I can’t believe you could see and remember that!

  • January 17, 2012 at 9:12 AM

    I’m not sure I ever thought to clone out fixtures and vents—just figured they were a given in the scene. Smart idea!

    • January 17, 2012 at 9:16 AM

      I know, I had never thought of it either until I took one of the amazing workshops at CM! It really can change the look of your image. After one of my girlfriends saw that image of Kate reading, she said I had a way of making base housing look nice. I just have a way of cloning out the crap :O)

  • January 17, 2012 at 9:14 AM

    I love that my house is not the only one that looks like this when I let my kids play. Great post too ;)

    • January 17, 2012 at 9:50 AM

      Ha ha…my house always looks like a wreck :O)

  • Trisha
    January 17, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    Great post! I can’t wait to learn that cloning tool. I mess with it but somehow it never turns out right. Also, when I was looking at these Elliot said, Emma!

    • January 17, 2012 at 9:50 AM

      Awww!! I can’t believe he recognized her!

  • Tracy Ballard
    January 17, 2012 at 9:50 AM

    I think a good way to remove my distractions is to hire a maid! :-)

    • January 17, 2012 at 9:52 AM

      Ha! I like your thinking…I need a live in maid :O)

  • January 17, 2012 at 9:57 AM

    Thanks for sharing these lovely examples. It’s nice to hear about other people who understand that a few minutes getting rid of that outlet is a *good* thing! (I’ve gotten a few rolled eyes from people who just don’t get it, haha.)

  • rachel
    January 17, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    love it! can’t wait for the tutorial on how to make it happen in pp :). thank you!

  • Sandra Tufrey
    January 17, 2012 at 10:30 AM

    Thank you so much Courtney for your wonderful tips. A visit to your blog is now my daily routine. You really are a breath of fresh air. I have also joined Clicknmoms because of your recommendation and I hope to sign up for a workshop next month. Thank you for making such a big impact to my photography life.

  • January 17, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    Thanks for keeping it real. If your like me you don’t put it away bc you know you’d get sidetracked and end up cleaning out a closet or something ;) I am looking forward to learning how to use that clone tool. So far I’ve only had fair success with it.

  • January 17, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    Really Great tips. I have to say, I am a bit anal about “dirt” in the picture too. If there is a scuff on the wall – off it comes. Food on my daughter’s shirt – off it comes! LOL.

  • January 17, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    I just love that panned out messy shot that you have have last in this post. Looks like a room full of love and fun and reminds me to capture the messes of good times more too! Great captures and good post!

  • January 17, 2012 at 12:36 PM

    I like Tracy’s comment. lol Great post.

  • This is so fantastic! I love this post. I do videos sometimes in our dining room and the one thing that bugs me is the edge of a frame behind . I’m going to start doing the videos in my studio – that’s why I have it.

    Thanks for this great explanation. It really opened my eyes.

  • January 17, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    Every time I start snapping photos, I wish I would do a better job of keeping my house tidy! It’s nice to hear your “real life” perspective!

    I am looking forward to your post on Lightroom! I have PS CS5 right now, and it’s WAY too much for me.

  • January 17, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    These are such great tips, and that last shot? LOVE.

  • January 17, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    these are great! Can’t wait to see your lightroom tutorial, I always remove distractions in Photoshop, I have trouble doing it well in lightroom, so I definitely want to see your methods!

  • January 17, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    Seriously never thought about the clone tool BEING in LR. ;) I only think of the lighting adjustments and color. SO much more to learn with this program.

  • January 18, 2012 at 1:22 AM

    I’ve known the distraction thing for a while now, but, seeing your before and after shots is so incredibly helpful. I’ve often wondered what kind of utopian houses so many photogs are living in when I see their picture-perfect scenes …. what an aha moment. Thank you so much for all of your insight.
    My clone tool awaits….

  • January 18, 2012 at 2:13 AM

    Ugh, I forget this all of the time for my regular shots. I just get too caught up in actually trying to get a decent shot of my kids playing our being cute.
    For clients it is a must. Great tip!!

  • January 18, 2012 at 5:36 AM

    Great post! This is super helpful, and I’m excited for you to show us how to do this in Lightroom!

  • Lauren G.
    February 20, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    Hi Courtney, I am trying to find the video in which you show how to use the clone tool, but can’t seem to find it on your website. Can you please help direct me to the right spot? Thanks!

  • aditya
    May 7, 2013 at 4:12 AM

    actully i have 14 mp camera but every time when i capture samthing its blur

  • Ruth Speight
    May 18, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    If I had a dollar for every yucky nose I have cleaned in photoshop I would be a rich woman!!!!
    I love your blog!! Especially how real your are with your posts about life! ( like this one) :)
    Thanks for sharing,
    Ruth

    • Courtney Slazinik
      May 21, 2013 at 2:18 PM

      Ha ha very true! Runny noses are the worst :) Thanks for your sweet words about my site :)

  • May 18, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    Thanks for tweeting this today! What a great post to really show what a big difference it makes. I’ve got “littles” as my subject most of the time too, and getting any picture without some amount of ‘junk’ in it is next to impossible!

    • Courtney Slazinik
      May 21, 2013 at 2:18 PM

      I hear you! My house is constantly a mess but I am very conscious of clearing out that mess :) Glad you enjoyed it!

  • May 18, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    This is a great post. i have yet to dive into LR. i want to. clone tool is awesome. i hate when there are outlets in my frame!

    • Courtney Slazinik
      May 21, 2013 at 2:19 PM

      Yes, outlets drive me crazy now too :) Don’t be scared of LR!

  • Sara Lee
    January 14, 2014 at 9:09 PM

    Your last pic is our everyday home scene!

  • January 14, 2014 at 11:14 PM

    I’m always lazily cropping out or ignoring so I really needed this top tip – also need to really get some practice in with Lightbox photoshopping and make use of the software I already have but am not quite familiar with yet! thanks so much for this post.

    • January 17, 2014 at 2:51 PM

      Me too! But this is way easier and saves me a ton of time :)

  • January 18, 2014 at 8:56 PM

    This was very helpful. As a new blogger, I find that the photography piece has been my biggest challenge.
    Thanks for sharing,
    Kelly

    • January 22, 2014 at 4:47 PM

      Glad you enjoyed it. It’s amazing how great photos can take your blog to the next level :)

  • akeelia
    March 8, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    How did you clone out the vent, and edit the lamp, crumbs an the other brother out of your pictures?

    • March 10, 2014 at 9:33 PM

      There are two images at the bottom of the post for you to click on depending which version of Lightroom you have. These videos will show you how to clone out the distractions :)

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