This is probably my favorite look in child portraits. I want to achieve this bright, yet color popping look in my photos. Is there specific lighting, like overexposing? Or is it post processing? Here is an example:


I also us a 50mm f/ 1.8 typically.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I think something is wrong with the linked-to page.I can't see anything you might be referring to. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jim
    Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 0:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ i'd try negative clarity values in adobe camera raw or lightroom, in junction with high vibrance. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 14:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ The ones that appear washed out look like they have a low-opacity layer of solid white on top of the image. \$\endgroup\$
    – Blrfl
    Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 17:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Looks like just make everything too bright and let the whites clip a bit. Personally I find these pictures a little irritating to look at, but to each his own, I suppose. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 21:56

4 Answers 4


Such effects are mainly done in post processing. You can find a great number of Photoshop actions (search on "soft pink photoshop action" for example).

To roughly recreate this in Photoshop:

  • duplicate your layer, set blend mode to screen, adjust opacity to between 20-30%

  • add solid colour layer, select a light pink or peach as the colour, and again adjust the opacity to a fairly low value, around 20%. Set blend mode to Soft Light (but experiment with other blend modes)

  • you may want to use a mask to remove the effect from some areas that you don't want colorized or lightened

If you like the images that look more washed out, you may want to raise the black levels in the image before you start (move the Blacks slider right in Camera Raw or Lightroom Develop module)

Here is a quick example, before and after. I set one layer to 40% opacity in screen mode, then a light pink (#f4d6fa) solid colour, soft light blend mode, opacity 60%.

enter image description here

  • \$\begingroup\$ It might also help to desaturate the original image first. This softens the colors that you don't want to emphasize. \$\endgroup\$
    – AndyML
    Commented Apr 8, 2014 at 20:15

Using a soft focus lens, or applying soft focus effect in post, and perhaps add "the orton effect" , and adjust the levels will get you close. It also looks like some images have flaring, so shoot without a hood. They also seem to have played around with the colours, but if you pull up the luminance to clipping at around 60% the green grass turns yellowish as in those pictures. So after doing that and applying soft focus or orton effect, you are in the ballpark.

OK, I tried my thesis on one of my own photos:


It confirms the ballpark, but revealed that you also have to know that you want to do this postprocessing when you take the photos, so you can control the relative brightness of things in your scene. In my photo the hand is better illuminated than the face, making the hand extra overexposed after the post processing. My shadows are deeper as well, so those need to be pulled up, or avoid them when you take the photo.


I have a little trick that typically works and you don't even need Photoshop, just an internet connection. I go to pixlr.com/editor. I open the picture, go to Adjustment>Exposure. Typically the default setting is sufficient. It does a wonderful lightening and softening all at once. Unfortunately this will only work with .jpg not RAW files.


You can achieve that bright look by using a slower shutter speed like 1/40 or slower with the sun not touching the sensor of your camera and the subject. You can experiment with the aperture. You actually don't need any editing to achieve the look. Hope this helps!


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