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Photo Editing Checklist

Here’s a quick checklist that will remind you of the photo editing steps that most images need. Most photos won’t need all these steps, but they will need some of elements of this workflow. boy before after Do as much of this as you can in Lightroom, if you have it. Your photo editing time will be much shorter if you do. And scroll down for the printable version of this checklist.

  1. Adjust exposure and and read the RGB values to confirm that you aren’t too bright or dark
  2. Adjust white balance
  3. Add or reduce contrast
  4. Crop
  5. Adjust skin tone using Levels and layer masks
  6. Identify and remove any reflected color casts
  7. Defog or reduce noise, as necessary. In Lightroom, add clarity or reduce noise.
  8. Remove under eye circles and blemishes
  9. Soften skin
  10. Add any creative enhancements
  11. Sharpen on stamp visible layer
  12. Save as PSD to maintain the layers
  13. Save as JPG for the print lab
  14. Reduce size for posting on the internet or emailing
  15. Adjust sharpness, if necessary, to suit the lower resolution
  16. Apply watermark
  17. Save small sized JPG
  18. Undo resizing so you don’t over write your full size PSD

I’ve linked to various tutorials on my blog to help with some of the steps above. For those of you want to learn photo editing systematically, rather than piecemeal, and you want the latest and greatest methods presented in a well-organized, easy-to-follow format, I am currently registering three workshops.

Classes begin in February, 2015. Register now!

The first is the Photography Workflow, where you can learn Lightroom and Elements together. The second is my Elements-only workshop, The Secret to Creating Photos that People Love. Finally, you can learn Lightroom on its own.

I will give you a neat little package full of step-by-step lessons in PDF and video format, plus cheat sheets like you’ll find below. You’ll also have a photo-editing expert (me!) to answer all your questions and provide suggestions on how you can improve your edits along with detailed critiques of what you do for homework. These lessons cover all the steps above and so much more!

My photo editing workshops take you from start to finish with your photo editing:

  • Import or open photos
  • Correct shooting problems like exposure and white balance
  • Retouch portraits (improve skintone, remove blemishes, soften skin)
  • Add creative enhancements like color pops or black and white edits
  • Polish your images so that they look their best for print or internet use

Download the printable cheat sheet here.

Photo Editing Checklist was last modified: May 18th, 2015 by Erin Peloquin


  1. Amber
    Posted on April 4, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    This is awesome. Thank you so much!

  2. Larraine Says :
    Posted on April 5, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    VERY helpful! Thank you.

  3. Lauren
    Posted on April 7, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    Incredibly helpful article!!! Thanks so much for posting and linking to all your other tutorials! Wish I was able to take your course right now, but unfortunately can’t – I very much appreciate all that you post though!! Thanks!

  4. Linda Says :
    Posted on April 8, 2014 at 9:54 am

    you rock!

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