Adding Life to Eyes

Even if you’re not a portrait photographer, chances are you still take photos of people from time to time. And one of the most important parts of the photo are the eyes. In this video we’ll take a look at how to add a little depth and life to to the eyes in Photoshop, Lightroom, ON1, or other programs as well.


Matt K

George – Camera Raw would be the same as LR. ON1 would be very similar too. They all have the adjustment brush and you’d just have to move the sliders.


Great stuff! I tried the LR solution, using the latest desktop version and Iris Enhance does not appear to be an option. Any thoughts?

Matt K

Hey Richard – if you’re talking about LR CC (and not classic), it does not have the same brush presets, but the settings will work the same (exposure, clarity, saturation). So you could just move the sliders and the effect would be exactly the same.


Ive been a photographer for a local zoo for over a year and have used pretty much the same technique in Lightroom (done manually not with ‘iris enhance’) and now in Capture One to enhance the eyes of many of the animals. Most lizards, frogs, newts, and the larger animals like wolves, tigers, etc. have really cool brown mottled eyes and this technique shows them off beautifully!

Jim Stamates

Thanks Matt,
I’ll try it along with this other technique I use.
I increase the size of the eyes by about 5% in PS. It works wonders on some of my wildlife images.

Murray White

Thanks for another good video Matt. I have everything almost that you have done for ON 1 RAW and prior with lots of good stuff in each. In image one, on my screen even prior to zooming in, the image did not appear to be sharp in full screen mode. But even with that, I think that the far eye would still be out of focus. Something we old time film photographers did when doing portraits or wedding images was to focus not on either eye but rather on the bridge of the nose making use of the adjustment due to DOF which would allow both eyes to be in acceptable focus rather than one eye sharp and the other much less sharp particularly with long lenses such as the 150 mm on a medium format Hassy and also due to wide open apertures.

In the image that was shown, I also noticed that the head was turned just past the area of a good 2/3 facial view where the nose only just touches the inner portion of the far eye and thus there is no cutout on the orbit of the far eye. Thus again a focus on, in the 2/3 view on the close area of the bridge of the nose would keep both eyes in relatively good focus.

Use of structure and/or clarity could be used to make final digital image adjustments.

I plan to send this link to a friend that uses PS and does a lot of portrait images just in case he finds a use for it so thanks for the tutorial and I look forward to seeing more.


It’s been said (paraphrasing here) ‘The eyes are the window to the soul.’

Thanks, Matt.

Bruce Webb

Hi Matt,

I have actually been using the local adjustment tool in RAW and modified the “Detail” in the eyes and them adjusted the opacity so they don’t look weird.

I use these similar adjustments on the headlights of the cars I photograph.

Peter Hopwood

Maybe a little lesson on how to put a catch-light into an eye would be useful as well. Sometimes the catch-light disappears if you use red eye removal.


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