… because let’s face it, taking the photo is only half of the work. You still need to see it through and edit that photo to make it look exactly as you had in mind when you took it.

Cameras are great but they are no match for the human eye. They don’t capture colours and vibrancy the way human beings do hence the need to edit them. Here are 5 easy tools to help you make your photo even more striking.

Caveat: I have described these using Lightroom but the same concept is valid regardless of what photo editing tool you use.

5 Photography Editing Tools To Make Your Photos More Striking And Dramatic

Also, for each of these, I’ve created a “Before and After” slider to help you see the impact each tool has on the photograph.

1.) Increase Clarity.

This tool helps draw out detailed features in your photographs and is perfect for not just  for portrait photos (albeit slightly unforgiving), it’s also really great for dramatic rocky landscape photos, photos with lots of patterns and pretty much any photo you’d like to make sharper.



2.) Reduce Light/Exposure

Overexposure (i.e. bright photos) is almost aways seen as being better than underexposure but in a lot of situations this couldn’t be further from the truth. Reducing the light/brightness of a photo can help focus the photo more and draw out more details in the photo.



3.) Increase Grain

Adding grain to a photo is a great way to create a more rustic feel to a photo in a rather subtle way. It typically works best for brighter photos and is one of the more subjective tools available (I go back and forth on this one) however, if you do find the right photo to use grain on, it can help create a somewhat timeless  effect on your photo.

Oh and it’s also perfect when the photo quality isn’t that great to begin with or if the photo is already quite noisy (i.e. grainy). This way, you can just lean into the natural grain you already have and make it look like it was planned all along. 😉 🙂



4.) Change Temperature

Making the temperature colder or warmer in a photo is a great way to make certain photos truly pop. Colder temperatures make whites whiter and blues bluer. Warmer temperatures tend to turn things a lot ‘oranger’ (perfect for sunset photos). Either ways, changing the temperature can help bring a photo more in line with the vision you have for that photo. (In the example below, I’ve gone for a colder temperature edit to make the water and swimsuit bluer).



5.) Reduce Saturation But Increase Vibrance

Sounds counter intuitive but works a treat. Over-saturated photos almost without except look terrible and using vibrance instead of saturation is a great way to make your photos more colourful without having it look like a 2 year old went crazy with their crayons on your photos.

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  • Great tips especially the one about increasing an already noisy photo. Great job!


    • HandLuggageOnly

      So glad you like them 🙂


  • aleks

    Great tips thank you 🙂 wondering what are some of your favourite lenses to use for travelling photography?

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks Aleks! I tend to use the kit lens that come with my camera to be honest. There are typically better lenses than the default lens but I never really bother. Currently I have a Canon 6D and use the default 24 – 105mm lens that comes with it. Back when I had the Canon 1100D, I used the 18 – 55mm lens. The only other lens I want to try to start using more often is the Canon 50mm F1.8 one. 🙂

  • Becca

    Great post! It’s interesting that you advise to turn the exposure down – I’ve definitely fallen into the trap of over exposing and thinking it just looks nice and bright! xx


    • HandLuggageOnly

      Yay! So glad you like it Becca – we tend to do the same to, but it really does add to the photos when underwater or in darker conditions. 🙂


  • Thanks so much for the tips guys! I seriously look at all your photos in awe and just like wow ._. always wondered how you do that!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Ah! That’s so kind! Thank you.

      So glad you found it useful xx

  • YES!! Clarity is the best invention yet! And increasing vibrance and reducing saturation is one of the best tips.

    x, Carina

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Clarity is soooooo good!


  • Awesome tips! Your photos are seriously the best. Always look forward to seeing them!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Awww, thank you Rachel! 🙂 I have such a huuuuuge smile on my face seeing that! 🙂 🙂 😀

  • perfect timing! i need to edit some photos from my trip to savannah and these are great! any suggestions on removing a person/object from a photo? i have some great pictures from florence but a random person crept in that i want to remove but dont really know how.
    PS—yall seriously have some of the best travel photos I have seen!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thank you so much Rachael! 🙂 Grinning ear to ear right now.

      Removing someone from your photo probably involves calling on some Photoshop skills. You can do it in Lightroom (using the Spot removal tool) and Picasa (using the retouch too).

      I tend to chuck the photo away cos I’m lazy like that. Or shout at Lloyd to get out of the photo and attempt taking it again. 🙂

  • I try to utilize a lot of these same techniques except I’ve never tried decreasing saturation while increasing vibrance. I definitely will now!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      We’ve definitely found it helps with certain photos – it really helps when the colours are already bright too. 🙂


  • Margo

    cool guys! I used the same plugin to show before and after editing, it really helps communicate the changes that can be done to an image!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Plugin buddies! Yay! 🙂

      It’s such a helpful little tool – so simple but so effective. 🙂


  • Flakester

    great article, really useful so cant wait to try it out on my Cuba photos. Whats the plugin you used to demonstrate the before and after ?

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Ah! Cuba! Wow! That sounds amazing! I’ll double check the name for you as get back to you when we get in. Not sure of the name tbh 🙂


  • Hey, I might have already asked you guys about this…but I can’t remember. Sorry haha, but do you guys edit with photo shop? I’m trying to decide if I should use it because it’s kind of an investment…do you know good programs to use?
    xx http://www.nuunablog.com

    • HandLuggageOnly

      We tend to only use Lightroom for editing our photos. It’s much easier for good quality edits and the program is so much easier (and cheaper) to use.

      You can get monthly subscriptions too – meaning there’s never a need to spend a huge amount in one go. 🙂

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • David & Katherine

    Really like a couple of these tips. Hadn’t thought about reducing saturation and increasing vibrance. I’ve used change the temperature using Lightroom, you can use the technique to pretty much change the time of day the picture was taken. Love how you sea shots really pop with colour.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      IT makes such a difference doesn’t it. So glad you found some of the tips useful.

      Lloyd & Yaya