Since April, Sean has been teaching at Boston University's photo and film school in Georgetown. The school is one of the premier photography schools in the world. It offers a comprehensive 8-month full-time course that some people have described as a "flood" of photo expertise. The second module is Lightroom, and this is one of the courses Sean has been teaching. Below are some examples of the kind of editing that happens in Lightroom, and it is this sort of practical knowledge that his students learn. 

FIXING YOUR PICTURE

Below are examples of Sean's daily Lightroom work: ordinary pictures transformed into art pieces, or images that have been rescued by "radical cropping," or by being turned into black-and-whites. The "AFTER" picture is always on top, and the "BEFORE" picture follows below. 

Model Lynette AFTER being edited in Lightroom.

The enhanced color completely changes the drab original. But other small details are just as critical. Her irises pop a little more clearly and colorfully, her eyebrow stands out, her skin has been softened without losing the dramatic freckles. The photo session actually happened because she wished to capture those freckles after a summer of life-guarding at a community pool. A slight vignetting means the edges of the picture frame her face much better than the studio lighting in the original shot.. The orange hair has been saturated by the settings pasted onto the picture, but without distorting the color of her skin or her lips, a rookie mistake easy to make for most photographers.

Original shot with Lynette in studio lighting.

Original shot with Lynette in studio lighting.

Michael Jerome Moore, Afterwards
Michael Jerome Moore, Before

Turning this shot of the Velvet Underground's John Cale drummer Michael Jerome Moore into a black and white makes the contemplative expression on his face much more dramatic. He was out early looking for a hardware store in downtown Porto, Portugal, speaking a strange language and wandering new streets, and I asked him to pose in front of a weathered storefront. The color version has too many visual distractions. 

Spanish bosque, as shot on a D700

Cropping the sky out of the top of the picture instantly turns the forest into a more interesting palette of orange and burnt greens and umber. It means the dark bottom of the picture can be lightened using a gradient tool to expose more of the density of the undergrowth. These balances are crucial edits for any photographer to employ so drama can be added while respecting the image's structures: This is the forest you shot, in this case in central Spain, so why lose it in the edit? 

Maya Nelson Wolfsdottir in Catalonia
Maya in Torre del Mar castle, original.

This picture of  Icelandic model and actress Maya Nelson Wolfsdottir in the castle of Torre del Mar in Catalonia is boring in color and as shot. Her shiny blue jacket competes with her expression to dominate the picture. In this case, the open mouth and the sideways early-morning glance was far more important to preserve than the sense of location. The rounded arch is still in the picture, but now there is more wind, more natural element, which may be the cause of her emotions. The furrow on her brow alone is worth highlighting. The picture is ready to tell a story after the pruning, whereas as shot it was simply ready to be a picture.

Yes, the picture above was cropped out of the narrow vertical you see at right, below. The six herons are now in a much more dramatic setting, whereas in the original shot they were barely noticeable. The overcast day has been mitigated by pushing the green values of the photograph, by boosting the clarity of the picture, and by using a gradient filter in the upper-lefthand corner of the picture to give the sky greater saturation. The result is a photograph far more useful than the original, which emphasized the rock in the middle of the river's flow rather than the congregation of herons. Interestingly, the shot was exposed for 0.6 seconds, to give the rushing water its softness, at f/8 to preserve detail in fairly crummy light. The lens is a 30-year-old 85mm f/1.4. The editor can do a lot, but the lens has to carry the weight of the picture!

Original vertical version of herons shot.

As of March 2015, Sean has created his own photography program based on creativity rather than mechanical review. YOu embark on a project which you invest with your passions, and learning the inner workings of your camera becomes a side benefit of producing a creative work.

For more info on the new photo school in DC, go to YourCreativeCamera.com.

Sean's energy and creative secrets are waiting for you there.    


The singer-guitarist Sophie Holt takes a break from Venice Beach and hits the poppy fields north of LAX. In the original shot below, the warm afternoon glow caused too much saturation in the picture, with her lips and nose looking like something out of Christmas. In the edited picture, her face has been glamourized, skin softened and eyes made brilliant, while the poppies have remained slightly over-saturated.  Her skin is now not so pink or red, and yet small details still remain: her eyebrows are still their natural shape and density.