We’ve all heard the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words,” but how do you edit a photo to tell a story? You might need to crop out elements that detract; lighten or darken areas to draw the eye towards where you want it and/or away from where you don’t; or maybe enhance or desaturate color.

This photo from the Real World Concert Photography workshop at Photoshop World last Friday is a good example of the kind of editing I’m talking about.

This is Scott Kelby and his wife, Kalebra. The photo was taken with my 50mm lens when they were at the back of the stage, so they’re only a small part of the original image. As soon as I saw this shot, however, I knew that unless another one truly wowed me, it was the one.

I started in Lightroom, went into Photoshop, and then returned to Lightroom. The first thing I did was crop it. A lot. I decided I wanted to get everything else out of the frame, so I removed the edge of the mic stand on the right using the fabulous Content Aware Fill feature in Photoshop CS5 (I typed Command + E on my Mac to send the image from Lightroom into Photoshop – that’s probably Control + E on a PC). I saved the image in Photoshop (not “save as,” just save) and closed it. This sent an edited second copy back into Lightroom, which is where I resumed my edits.

Next, I decided to go black and white. The tint of the stage lights detracted from rather than enhanced the image. I used one of my very favorite Lightroom presets, Noir film – MakeLightReal.com, which I must have downloaded once upon a time from here. I tweaked the exposure and added a post crop vignette in the Effects panel to darken the edges and frame the middle. It looks like the Noir film preset added some Luminance Noise Reduction (in the Details panel), which I would have done anyway. This was shot in low light with ISO 1000.

Here’s our final edit:


Scott Kelby is a very public figure. He’s just been named the top-selling U.S. photography book author for the second year in a row. His books regularly wind up on bestseller lists because he’s equally adept at teaching the everyday hobbyist or the seasoned professional how to get the shot or better use the software to edit it.

If you read the dedication page of any of his books, however, you’ll also discover that Scott’s a devoted husband and father, with a strong Christian faith. His wife, Kalebra, goes to Photoshop World with him and they enjoy playing and singing together in his band; that smokin’ red guitar was her Valentine’s gift to him.

When I had the chance to tell a story about Scott Kelby with a photo, that was the story I want to tell, and I’d do it again—knowing it’s only a second place shot for a concert photography contest—because it’s a story I believe in.

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