After the last shot: Editing tools that maximize impact

October 14, 2013

There are countless apps and programs today to spiff up your photos and get those eyeballs lingering longer over your pictures, pondering the scene. Movie producers use special effects to wow the crowd, so why shouldn’t you, too? But, we’re not just talking about applying fancy, fun filters like Instagram. We’re talking editing.

Both PC and Mac users have tons of options at their fingertips from simple cropping to full-on mosaics, stretches, panoramic wraps—the works. For the basics, Windows Live Photo Editor (PC) or iPhoto (Mac) will do the trick. If you want a little more control, try Lightroom or Photoshop (or Photoshop Express Editor and Photoshop Touch for tablets), two of the more popular software programs for photo editing. PicMonkey is a favorite among staff at Resource Media who live without Photoshop. FotoFlexer is hot on their heels and, even better, it’s free and online, as are PhotoFiltre and Photoscape. You can crop, resize, add text overlay, plop your logo on the picture, whatever you want.

uncroppedThe simplest editing method is cropping. What do we want in? What should we leave out? Find that decisive moment and fill the frame—no distractions. Professional sports photos are great examples to look at. Sports photographers are tasked with capturing a decisive moment in a game and the end result that makes it in print is more often than not cropped to perfection. is a free web app to auto-crop your images.

Look at the image to the left. Seems like the perfect shot, right? But distracting elements like the car in the background take the focus off the main subject. Rule of thumb: if the background doesn’t add to the picture, crop it out.




croppedNow take a look at the picture after a simple crop. Hyper-focusing on the subject makes for an arresting image. Her eyes hold your attention a lot longer than her sweater, or the road, or the car, or any other background elements could. Make it easy for your audience: crop your shot to focus on the important stuff, the human connection.

Don’t just settle for what the image looks like right after you took the photo. If you take some extra time, chances are potential supporters will have a harder time looking away.

Have a favorite photo-editing tool? Let us know in the comments below!

Liz Banse and Avery Haller