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How To Fix Flyaways The Easy Way with Chris Orwig

by Hanna Brooks Olsen
photo & video

Chris Orwig

When editing in post, almost every photographer has had to grapple with this tiny nuisance. They’re nearly inevitable during shooting – but also extremely distracting in finished products. They’re flyaways, or those single strands of hair that you might find crossing your model’s face or straying off into the empty space.

Flyaways are especially tricky because, unlike a lot of other elements on a shoot, like lighting, wardrobe issues, or posing, they’re nearly beyond control. No amount of hairspray can totally fend off the wind, which means if you’re going to take portraits outside, this is just something you’ll need to deal with.

Fortunately, they’re easy to crop out and fix flyaways within Photoshop.

“There are so many ways to deal with flyaways,” says photographer and teacher Chris Orwig. Here’s how he handles them.

First, create a new layer. It’s always a good idea to begin a new layer when editing your photos, to ensure you’re not damaging your original files. You might want those back at some point!
Second, test out your spot healing brush. Sometimes, “you get lucky,” he says, and that’s enough to just erase them right out.
Third, to help taper out the hair, create another layer and use the same brush, but drop the opacity. This is a small detail, but it can make the image look more natural.

The goal, says Chris, is to make the subject look their absolute best, but to still “make them look real.” Don’t get too over-zealous with the healing brush; the goal is to reduce distractions, not erase them altogether. Just remember to create a new layer, and you’ll be able to play with the image as much as you want.

Make the most out of your family portraits with Chris Orwig’s class Capturing Authentic Photos of Children & Families.


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Hanna Brooks Olsen

Hanna Brooks Olsen is a writer and editor for CreativeLive, longtime reporter, and the co-founder of Seattlish. Follow her on Twitter at @mshannabrooks or go to her website for more stuff.