Makin' Your Photos Pretty {Without Photoshop}

Oh sweet sweet photography.
Something I know so little about, but something that I enjoy so much.
Now hear me out when I say am no expert.
I am no expert.
Ya heard?
But, over the past year or so I have picked up a few {what I like to think helpful} tips and tricks that I thought I could share with you all.
Let’s face it—whether you want to agree or not, pictures are important in blogging.
Pictures are important if you don’t blog.
I mean Helllllo Facebook profile pic.
{what has this world come to?}

So maybe some of you are like me.
And by “like me” I mean “Photoshop will never be in my vocabulary
I quickly realized this after spending 4 hours playing around in there and the only thing I had accomplished was creating “one layer”. I think?

So friends, I present to you my “Completely Free & Easy Guide to Beautifying Your Pictures” tutorial.
Let’s begin.

1.   Take the picture.
Obviously. But think differently when you are taking your next picture. And no, you do not have to have a fancy schmancy camera to do so with {although it sure helps a heck of a lot}.
My camera of choice? Sony NEX-5. Love her. Make that more than love.

Back to how to think differently when taking your next photo...

a. Change Positions. Creating different angles is where it’s at these days in photography apparently. If you would normally shoot something from overhead, try shooting it from the side.

For self portraits--instead of taking the picture of you straight on, try a different angle.
Say from the top down or somethin' fancy like that.

My favorite view is from ground level. For this you gotta lay yourself flat on the ground girlfriend. Those laughing at you will be bowing to you when they see your pictures ;)

b. Light That Mother Up. Naturally. Not all this flash crap. Especially when shooting pictures of people. Natural light is the best light. You will want to be in between the natural light and the subject (don't have the natural light behind the subject). Yes, I think that is correct?
c. Centering Is For Losers. Word on the street is that the new cool thing to do is to remember the "rule of thirds" when taking pictures. I believe this means that your main focal point should be in one third of the picture. Not in the dead center. Like so.

d. Crop That Shaz. You can create a visually appealing picture by chopping half of it off. I know that sounds weird, but hear me out. We are used to seeing the whole picture. But when you take half of it away, it creates a different look. Say for instance when your face is covered in paint. Or when you have no eyeliner on.

2. Editing the picture. This is where the fun begins. All my editing takes place in either Picasa or my new absolute favorite, PicMonkey.com. There is no reason why you should not be using either of these programs. They are free and easy. Just like I like my men. Joke people.
Instead of talking, I am going to go through all of my favorite “scenes” to use on my pictures.
Prepare yourself to be amazed at the transformation one click of a button can do. 
Different scenes done in PicMonkey//Collage done in Picasa

Another fun thing to do with some of your pictures is to add some text. Like so.
All text added through PicMonkey

3.  Finishing Touches. Truth—I can be a greasy mother sometimes. Or my teeth can be yellow. Or I can have a mountain on my face. Basically. I ain’t perfect. But thankfully, my photo editing software allows me to be. Well, almost.
Before editing on the left--after on the right. Bye bye grease. All completed in PicMonkey by using the Shine Reduce feature. I adore the teeth whitening feature as well. Try it out!

4. Displaying Your Pictures.
I think it is so important in blogging to make your pictures BIG. I always make em' XL.
Remember--size does matter.

Another thing that I have recently discovered is to try to make all of your pictures the same direction. Example: Don't use vertical pictures amongst horizontal pictures. It will make your post look all jacked up. Notice how the one vertical picture up top looks out of whack with all of the other horizontal photos? To fix this problem, create collages in Picasa to put two verticals beside each other to make one horizontal picture (see the Camera Phobia//Get It Girl example)

...And there you have it friends.
Easy, free, and quick ways to make HUGE differences in your photos.

Any other questions//suggestions, I'd love to hear em'.
Leave them in the comments below or email me at livinginyellow@gmail.com
Peace out little bits.




  1. I'm pretty good at creating something out of nothing in photoshop (I was trained as an architect and loooove graphic design) but when it comes to photos in PS.....I have NO skill. Kind of ironic since it is called PHOTOshop. The main problem is that I know nothing about photography, so exposure, hue, saturation, aperture...all those words don't mean much to me. I can tell I've taken a terrible photo that is too yellow, but I don't know how to change it.

    So THANK YOU for sharing your secrets! I'm gonna have to try this pic monkey business out...because even though I'm terrible with photos I have come to terms with the fact that they are super important for my blog!

  2. I love you. I love this. End of story. Thanks for always cracking me up, even when you are telling me how to edit my pictures. No one can do it like you girl.

  3. Great tips and advise. Once again, you are my life saver! Thank you for posting this as I was just thinking to myself over the weekend that I needed to do more photo editing! Luv ya girl!!

  4. I love this post! I've been trying out photography and I'm no expert too. I am even using a point and shoot camera (canon powershot hs100) but these simple editing will make my pictures better! I HATE photoshop too! lol. I've been using picas and picnik but have to check out this picmonkey...thanks a lot erin! i love you! <3


  5. I love this post! :)
    Thanks for sharing!

    I have a semi fancy camera and yet to have learned how to "properly" use it. But I think I do a good job and I have fun with it! Espically when taking picture's of the kidos!

  6. Such a great post, Erin. You rock my socks off...as always.


  7. You so smart. I've been trying to learn Photoshop because apparently to have creative careers they want you to know how to do that (seems a bit overrated if you ask me) BUT I have been wanting to try this PicMonkey I've been hearing so much about. Sounds like probably the coolest monkey ever. Love your suggestions here. Looking forward to trying some out for my next few posts :)

  8. I love this post! Funny + great tips!

  9. Thanks for the tips. I have b been heart broke since I found out Picnik was closing in 3 days. Your a lifesaver!!

  10. GREAT! Thanks for the tips!!! Will be coming back to this one!

  11. Thanks for the tips! I am going to have to try the monkey website. I was a Picnik user, but it is going bye bye! :(

  12. oh man, you have no idea how excited i was when i learned about picmonkey. i went back and whitened pretty much all of my teeth. every single tooth in every single picture. what?

  13. p.s. you truly do have some talent girl. a good eye.

  14. You can mix up vertical and horizontal, but you have to do it mindfully. For example, I'll put all the vertical on one line (2 or 3) and then I'll have one horizontal on the next line. It looks collage-like without having to make a collage. :D

    Then again, horizontal pix mixed in with vertical mixed in with square never bothered me much, so there you go. I guess I just never notice, I'm too busy looking at the actual pix to worry about the orientation. But that's just me. :)

  15. These are such great tips...I'm pretty much helpless with a camera, but these will definitely help!


  16. Great tips!!! I love PicMonkey too!! Great for water marking as well! :)

  17. These are such great tips! I mean I know how to use Photoshop for editing (but can't afford it) and have the free knock off, Gimp, that I can use too, but sometimes you want easy editing. And the job is even easier when you take a good shot to begin with! I will definitely be using these more for my photos from now on, so thank you! :)

  18. I love this post!!! Awesome tips! Thanks!! :)

  19. thanks for this fun little post on photo tips. just discovered picmonkey yesterday and i am IN LOVE.

  20. Wow, this was awesome! I use Photoshop but I use it more for graphics (which I'm terrible at,ha) and whatnot. Definitely favoriting picmonkey!

  21. Good tip on the vertical pics mixed up with the horizontal ones. I ALWAYS seem to manage doing that and, you're right, it looks bad :(

    I usually used picnic for my editing source, just a Facebook app, but now they ae getting rid of it!!! Sad day.

    Will just have to try out one of your suggestions :)

  22. Picmonkey is da bomb!! I love it.
    Good tips.
    Never really thought about the pics all going in one direction. I'll have to test that out. ;-)

  23. I cannot thank you enough for that link to PicMonkey! It is simply amazing!!! :) You're the best!

  24. Size Does Matter. I think we need that on some kind of typography. Haha! :)

    Great post.

  25. Good golly! You are reading my mind! I was actually going to email you tonight to ask you about any photo editing freebies that you could recommend and then here you are writing up an awesome post about it :)

    xo T

  26. Love all this tips.
    Im currently taking Photoshop class, and I think I just learned more from you then the class. oops.


  27. this was so ridiculously helpful! thank you!

  28. Thanks! :)

    Great pictures by the way!

  29. Thanks for the tip on PicMonkey. With Picnik shutting down, I've been looking for other great alternatives! All of these tips were so helpful -- especially the one about all pictures going in one direction. I've never noticed it before but it does like kinda wonky. Thank you!!

  30. I have that camera too...Love it. Great tips.

  31. Love love love all these tips!! I'm not much of a photographer, so it's nice to see beautiful pictures that haven't been edited up the wazoo, and aren't taken by a 1,000 dollar camera!!! :)

  32. love this Erin! thought i'd let you know that I have a bid on the camera ;)

  33. Erin I can't thank you enough! I needed a tutorial like this, checking pic monkey out now! Sounds like the thing for me, easy and uncomplicated.

  34. You just made my day with this :) I've been trying to find some easy software for pictures and just didn't want to fork over the money for Photoshop, only to not know how to use it! lol Thanks!!

  35. Great post! thanks for the awesome tips & for the always awesome laughs in between. And I'm sure it was a pain in the arse to edit and post allll these pics for your post. Thanks for taking one for the team and helping us bloggers out! ;)

  36. I too am a member of the, (and I quote) "Oh sweet sweet photography.
    Something I know so little about, but something that I enjoy so much, Club." I'm working on it, but you my dear, take fab photos. And I'm also a fan at taking photos at ground level; gives your picture so much more dimension. Now if only I knew what things like ISO, Shutter Speed, and Apeture meant... that would be the shizz.

  37. I've been playing with picmonkey and it is awesome! Thank you!

  38. i've been so devasted about pinterest going away, but this makes the pain a lot better. thanks so much for letting me know about picmonkey!! :)

  39. Awesome! This is a great post & very easy to understand! I'm photo editing challenged as it is & you've made it sound so simple! Thanks!

  40. It's so funny because I'm the EXACT opposite of the first commenter.

    I'm not so great at creating something out of nothing in Photoshop, but I can edit photos without even thinking about it! I first started using it yearrrrs ago when I became the technical editor of my school newspaper. Kinda had to learn since I was in charge of all the pictures in the paper! :P

    But in reality, your pictures look just as good if not better than the product of MANY photoshop edits I've seen before.

  41. Stopping by to say hello and let you know I am mentioning you on my blog on Wednesday! I hope you will take a moment tomorrow and check it out!


  42. Great post! I have been trying to improve my photo skills lately, too. In fact, I spent about 6 hours making my first blog button this weekend. I'm glad you included a recommendation on a camera. I've been looking for a new one that takes great pictures but is not complicated. Yours looks like a great candidate!

  43. This is exactly what I needed. Thank you!!!!

  44. Love your tips! I've read over your blogging 101's as well! I just posted a blog post about tips and directed them to your blog. You're just so helpful and amazing!


  45. GREAT photo tip advice....I love PicMonkey....:)

  46. Great tips and I agree on all fronts.
    I post my pictures XL too, it's more visually appealing on the blogs.

  47. Thanks for the great tips! After losing Picnik (*insert moment of silence here*) I've been looking for something to replace it and find that Picasa just doesn't compare. Since I feel the same way about Photoshop, it's just never gonna happen. I recently did a free 30 day trial of Adobe Lightroom and love it! It's overwhelming at first, but thanks to a few youtube videos, it was very easy to learn! It's great for mass photo editing (vacations/photo shoots), but I am totally checking out Pic Monkey for quick one photo blogging edits. Thanks so much!!

  48. Oh thank you! I am a non-photoshopper myself and my photography skills are lacking as well.... great tips!

  49. Great tips! :) And I am totally jealous of your camera.

  50. Love this post. GREAT info! Downloading both apps now!

  51. Super helpful post! I'll be trying out the picmonkey website STAT. Thanks girl!



  52. I just recently started blogging (like VERY recently) and this was EXTREMELY helpful! Thank you so much for this post. I really loved it!

  53. Ok...read another post of yours AND....I LOVE PicMonkey (although you probably can't tell by my recent pictures on my blog)! AND...we have the same coffee cup. Random I know, but I literally almost yelled out loud! :) Ok, that's all the comments you get for today!


I read and appreciate every one of your comments. Thanks for stopping by my space and sharing a piece of yourself on this huge ole internet. I meant that in the least creepy way possible. I'm just good at making everything awkward. Anyhow, thank you for your comments. They make me smile :)