A fine art pet portrait of a border collie in the forest, standing proudly and looking to one side, with beautiful light and editing

Any time I edit a photo that’s “impressive” in some way, I always get messages asking for a tutorial on how I edited it.

Look, I get it. People want to know the steps, we want to deconstruct the process and peek behind the scenes.

But here’s the thing… 

As part of your membership, you now have over 20 editing tutorials. Lightroom-only, Photoshop-only, backlit, underexposed, forest, field, snow, landscape, group, black dogs, red dogs, brown dogs, fluffy dogs, smooth dogs, with people and without. Simple location, more complicated, headshots and full body…

Of course there are more “types” of photos  that I could make tutorials for… but the fact of the matter is, unless I’ve done something dramatically different in the edit, like turning it into an underwater abstract something, then it’s going to follow the same process as pretty much every single one of my photos.

  • White Balance
  • Radials to reduce distractions and bring out the dog
  • Open in Photoshop as smart object
  • Fix whatever in the scene (clone, healing spot, copy and flip background etc)
  • 3 x Curves layer (darken, spotlight darken, spotlight lighten)
  • 1-3 Selective colour layers
  • Radial gradient
  • Optional “fancy stuff” eg linear gradient for colour/contrast pop
  • Dodge and burn
  • Fix colour casts and other small distractions.

That’s it. 90% of my photos follow this process in one way or another, maybe with a couple more steps, maybe with a couple less. 


So, better than searching for answers in new tutorials, start finding your process. Watch the tutorials that are there that are closest to the photo you’re working on. Some are older, so the steps may not be are refined as they are now. Take what works and leave the rest. 

Use the search bar. Wondering about chromatic aberration? Do a search! Want to know about motion blur? Search it! I probably haven’t “catalogued” everything as well as I could to make it as searchable as possible – maybe that’s a job for the future, but you should still get good results from Q&As and Critiques if nothing else.

I’m just not sure that it’s an effective use of anyone’s time if I’m constantly pumping out new tutorials where I’m just repeating myself and my process over and over again, with slight variations of colour or light, depending on the scene. Because at the end of the day, that’s the main thing that changes from photo to photo. 

And beside that… look BEYOND the edit. The edit of the two photos above isn’t what makes those photos special. Both edits are actually quite simple. I’ve hardly touched the colour, done a bit of a gradient to enhance the misty light that was naturally there, shaped the light a bit… but nothing extreme.

It’s the pose of Journey, the light off to the right hand side, and this peaceful forest glade that make the first photo what it is. And the happy smile, the warmth, the foggy sunrays, the soft colours that make the 2nd. 

I’m happy to make tutorials. I like sharing my process… but with all the resources and tutorials currently available, I’m just not sure if making and consuming more and more tutorials is actually the best use of all our time. Better would be editing toolboxes, giving you the tools and techniques to solve your own problems and make your own creative decisions for your own photos. 

After all, I can’t possibly make a tutorial out of every single scenario that’s ever going to occur to you! Better would be if you have the skills to be able to solve whatever problems come up, and know how to use the tools to get the effects you’re after.

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