The eyes are one of the most important things when creating a great portrait.  While there are several ways to brighten someone’s eyes, here’s one quick and easy way to do it. I can use this technique and in less than a minute, brighten someone’s eyes.  This is a simple and effective way improve a picture (and the client/subject may not even realizing I did something).

  • First, bring in your photo to Photoshop and duplicate the layer. You can duplicate your layer by either right clicking on the existing layer and choosing duplicate, or by dragging your layer to the bottom of your layer panel on the “Create a new layer” icon.

Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 8.39.34 PM

  • Next, set the duplicate layer’s mode to Screen. You can do this in the drop down menu located next to the opacity in the top of your layers panel.


  • Locate the mask button (you’ll find the this icon at the bottom of your Layers panel). Set the mask to filled by holding down the option or alt key while clicking on the mask icon. This creates a new mask that’s filled with black. This will give you a black layer mask thumbnail next to your picture and it hides the fact you just lightened your whole picture.

Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 8.43.29 PM

  • Click on your brush tool and load white.  Paint over the area of the eye and just below the eye. This will help reduce any dark  eye circles your subject may have. Right now it may look like they over did it at the tanning salon. But this is an easy fix.


  • Finally, lower the opacity of the duplicated layer until you’ve reached a natural look. Most the time it’s around  30-35% opacity. I will often toggle the Layer Visibility button in the Layers panel to judge when it looks natural.


It doesn’t need to be dramatic. Even the subtle hint of brightness can achieve the look you want.

Disclaimer: This is just one way to make this fix.


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Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Worked beautifully for a photo of my daughters!


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About Pamela Ann Berry

Pamela has worked in Film and Radio for over 15 years. She started as a PA on major sets and eventually moved up to script supervisor. From there the roles of producing, directing, editing and camera operator followed. In college she was recruited right off the air from her college radio station and went on to be on air talent for country, top 40, and alternative radio stations including a 2 year gig as an Emcee for Radio Disney. Pamela currently tech edits books on Adobe Premiere Pro, Photoshop, After Effects, Illustrator & Motion. Her main love is being behind the camera whether its doing video or photography.


Portrait, Technique & Tutorials