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Mom's guide to photoshopping pictures

Mary Fetzer is a freelance writer and marketing consultant with a marketing degree from Penn State University and 15 years of international business experience. Mary specializes in writing about parenting, children, pregnancy, college, h...

Create professional-looking photos

Photoshop, iPhoto and other photo editing software can help you create amazing prints of your gorgeous family... as long as you don't go overboard!

Photoshop for moms - before and after

Photoshop has become our generic term for any kind of photo editing. "OMG! That magazine photoshopped Ryan Seacrest's head onto Ryan Reynold's body!"

Gone are the days when we turned in our film and anxiously awaited our photos, hoping they'd turn out nicely. In this digital age, we take as many photos as we'd like and – with the right editing software – turn them into creative masterpieces.

Auto editing tools

Expert tip: I recommend iPhoto over Photoshop editing. Photoshop is too complicated for the average user, while iPhoto has a magic wand button that fixes most issues. -- Dustin Bryson, ShootLove.com

Christina Sleeper is a professional media organizer in the Los Angeles area and says that most photo editing programs are ideal for family photos.

"When working in iPhoto or another desktop photo organizing program, start with 'auto tools,'" says Sleeper. "In most cases, these tools will properly enhance the colors of your photograph."

Top 5 free photo editing programs >>

True colors

The software is designed to make the photos look as natural as possible, but it's easy to overdo it. "When further editing photos on Photoshop," adds Sleeper, "don't let the hues of the picture get too hot or too dark. Your picture will either burn out or get lost in the shadows."

Michelle Ciarlo-Hayes of MKC Photography agrees. "Photoshop is a great tool, but use it gently," she advises. "No one's child really has glowing pearly skin (unless, of course, you're a vampire in Twilight). Less really is more -- you want the focus to be on your children, not the crazy yellow sky behind them."

Mom's guide to photoshopping pictures >>

Focus on family faces

"Crop out white space in your photo around the faces of your subjects," advises Sleeper. "Doing so will bring the focus to them... not to the scenery behind them"

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Keep it simple

Expert tip: I look at editing a photo like editing an outfit. To paraphrase Coco Chanel, take off the last accessory. Don't over-edit. --Christie Clancy, clancy214photography

The fun features and tools of desktop editing programs are so tempting, but remember that, above all, you want to preserve some memories of your children the way they actually look!

"Don't over do it with all the effects and color changing options," says Elizabeth Sypa of Sypa Photography. "Natural is best -- that's real, that's life, that's what you are in love with." Sypa sometimes uses editing tools to pump up the color, fix the tone of the skin or turn a photo to black and white. "There is a time and a place for a good effect here and there or a nice collage, but natural always wins."

More photography advice from the experts

How to retouch and renew your old photographs
Super moms guide to the rule of thirds
DSLR photography tips for beginners

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