Photographs are all about capturing a moment in time and effectively conveying the mood and tone of the subject and its surroundings. Still, even for the best photographers, some things are difficult to translate in photos. For instance, you might want to soften up a portrait or image in order to evoke a more romantic atmosphere. Even better, to further the aesthetic of a fairytale romance, adding dreamy effects to a photo can truly seal the deal. Whether you want your image to look like the cover of a steamy romance novel, or just want to add something a bit more fantastical, here’s how to pull off that dreamy, romantic look in Photoshop.
Open the image you wish to edit in Photoshop. Next, you’ll want to crop the image tightly. Square images are easiest to work with, so we suggest using the same width and height of about 1000, along with a 150 pixel/inch resolution. Frame your subject how you like, then click the Check Mark at the top to crop it.
Convert your image into a smart object by clicking the icon at the right of the Layers panel, and then hit Convert to Smart Object. Make a copy of this layer, and then hide it by clicking the Eyeball icon beside it.
In your original layer, click Filter > Blur > Radial Blur. Make the amount equal 100, and then make the Blur Method: Zoom and the Quality: Best. Increase the dreamy blur effect by hitting Command + F.
Go back and make your layer copy visible again by clicking the Eyeball icon. Hit the Layer Mask icon at the bottom to create a black layer mask next to this active layer. If your layer mask is black instead of white, use Command+I to invert it.
Click on the Brush tool and adjust it using the Brush Picker panel. Make the size of the brush appropriate for your image, and then set the Hardness to 0%, Opacity to 75% and Flow to 100%.
Place the brush cursor in the middle of your subject’s face and left click to clear it up and smooth out the blur effect.
To really establish that dreamy, romantic feel, you can add a light image to the background of your subject’s layer. Find any sort of dreamy light image or bokeh you like and open it in Photoshop. Select the Move tool and drag this image onto your portrait. Open the Transform tool by clicking Command + T to resize the image over your subject. Change the Blend Mode to Screen so it blends into the background behind your subject.
Depending on what image(s) you choose, your final result will have beautiful differentiation.