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Magical Butterfly Forest – Lightroom & Photoshop Editing Tutorial + Interview of Alexa Machado Photography

Today I’m so happy to share an interview and photography editing tutorial of the inspirational Alexa, of Alexa Machado Photography! She takes us behind the scenes editing an image from start to finish using some of the products from our Entire Shop Summerana Photoshop Membership to create a magical butterfly forest composite. We also had a word with the lady behind the lens, to see how she makes the magic happen!


How did you get started in Photography?

Back in 2013 when I graduated high school, my friends Leighton and Sarina were just starting out with photography, and they asked me to model as they built their portfolio. I remember they took me to this little patch of flowers on the side of the road and they showed me how to use angles to make it look like it was an expansive field. It was actually my first photoshoot ever, I had been having a lot of issues with not-so-nice students throughout high school, and that was one of the first times I felt pretty! I wanted to do what they were doing and make people feel confident and beautiful, and I got my first DSLR shortly after that. My first session when I started my business was based off of that memory, I had my model sit in a small patch of flowers and once I edited the image I had a lot of people thinking it was a huge field that we went to!


How long have you been a Photographer?

I started out with my first DSLR in the summer of 2013 photographing nature while I learned how to properly use a camera, and that’s what I focused on until 2016. I enjoy musical theatre and my theatre friends started offering to pay me to take their headshots! After that, it just kind of evolved into all different types of sessions. I registered as an official business in 2017, specializing in child and family portraiture (and headshots!) and I decided this year to stop going to school for my biology degree. I’m now working on building my business and making it a full-time career!


Watch her Butterfly Forest – Magical Lightroom & Photoshop Edit below: 

Edited using the Butterfly Whispers – Overlay and Photoshop action Collection available individually here, and also in our Entire Shop Summerana Photoshop Membership here.

 Here is the official before and after image:



Can you tell us what is in your camera bag? We are dying to know!

Ooh, let me look! Okay I have two 50mm lenses, a 35mm lens, my canon 5D mark III with the 135 f2, a prism, an extra camera body, several SD cards, an extra battery, a lens hood, some crumbs, ….. and three erasers in the shape of a chicken…. (I use them occasionally to test focus when I don’t have a model, don’t judge me! haha)


How long have you been a fan of Summerana – Photoshop Actions for Photographers?

For a few years now! They actually found me on Instagram, and I followed them back and started looking into all of the overlays because Grace’s and Shannon’s photos were amazing!


What is your absolute favorite lens to shoot with?

My Canon 135mm f2, I hardly ever take it off my camera unless I’m working in a tight space. I love the compression and bokeh of this lens, it’s very similar to the Canon 200mm f2, which is my dream lens!


Can you share with us a time where you made a mistake and learned from it?

I’ve made my fair share of mistakes, if we bunch all of them into a collective unit, I would say I learned that generally, mistakes are good because that means you are growing and trying new things, even if it didn’t work out the first time! Mistakes lead to awareness, acceptance, and improvement for the future! If you want a specific light-hearted mistake, there was that one time when I was first learning how to use the liquify tool (not on a client, thank goodness!) and I had absolutely no clue what I was doing and the subject ended up with a really skinny arm and these huge alien eyes. It was so bad!


Tell us about your experience with Summerana – Photoshop Actions, what has it done for you and your business?

The overlays definitely helped me learn how to use Photoshop when I was just starting out! I had to figure out how to blend them into the image and that’s when I started learning hand edits and how to use layer masks. The products fit my branding well, I’m known as the “whimsical” photographer, and my clients and followers always love the creative look they give my photos.


If you could give any advice to a photographer who is just starting out, what advice would you give them?

I know a lot of beginners think that in order to be a pro photographer they’ll need to go to school for photography. Education is extremely important, but as long as you’re constantly striving to learn new ways of perfecting your craft, it’s absolutely possible to be a successful photographer without a traditional education or degree! Everything I learned was from watching tutorials on Youtube, being a part of online business and photography groups, and partaking in a very intimidating but rewarding process called “Trial and Error”. If photography is your passion, pursue it with all your heart in any way you can, and don’t let the doubters and the obstacles stop you. Oh, and make sure you’re learning about the technical business side of things too, such as marketing, customer service, etc. Those things are just as important!


What are your favorite Summerana products?

The Butterfly Overlays! I don’t know why, but I go crazy over those overlays, I have to make myself calm down or I’d put them in every single image! I will say that I’ve saved quite a few photos with them. If I’m snapping between posed shots and my subject is looking off in a strange place, sometimes adding a butterfly in their line of vision fixes everything and creates a magical image!


Do you have a funny story you’d love to share with us?

Oh dear, yes I do! I was taking portrait shots of a client on my college campus and I directed her to stand in the lawn area. What could go wrong, right? But just as I started taking photos all the sprinklers on the lawn turned on and my poor model had to dodge them all! It was such good timing, we had to laugh, and luckily my equipment didn’t get wet!


Do you prefer Color or Black and White images? Why?

Color for sure! It catches my eye, and I’m all about vibrant tones! B&W is a bit tricky for me when I’m shooting anything other than people, probably because I haven’t dedicated as much time to learning different lighting techniques specifically for black and white abstract photography. My friend Rudy is amazing at Black and White, his photos make me want to incorporate that style into more of my own work.


Who/What are your favorite subjects to photograph?

Flowers! They always hold still and I can experiment with different techniques! I also love headshots because I love finding each person’s best angles, everyone is different and that’s fascinating to me. It’s like solving a puzzle, I do think that everyone is beautiful to begin with, but once you find just the right amount of head tilt, you get the money shots that are just terrific. I love the process of that.


What is your favorite part about being a photographer?

I love seeing and hearing my clients’ excited reactions to their photos! Honestly, it makes my day that I helped to make someone else’s day! It’s also quite relaxing for me! I love it when I have shy clients that are quiet but by the end they’re comfortable enough to laugh and talk with me. A lot of my clients have turned into good friends. It’s going to be amazing making a living doing what I love!


What are 3 words you would use to describe your photography?

Whimsical, Vibrant, Rich


What is your current favorite prop?

I don’t know if it can be counted as a prop, but I adore photographing anything related to flowers. Whether my client is holding them, wearing them, or they’re part of the background!


Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Hopefully living in a tiny house on a bunch of land where I can have my sessions. I’d also love to have a studio space as well. And a dog. Preferably a partner that also enjoys photography. No matter what happens though, I’d love to be thriving as a successful portrait artist.


Last but not least, here’s the gorgeous lady herself!



So there we have it – all you need to know about Alexa Machado Photography and we hope you learned a lot from her awesome Lightroom and Photoshop Editing Tutorial! We love her magical images, and if you want to see some more of them be sure to visit her gallery here on her website – there are just so many beautiful shots! You can keep up with her latest work over on Facebook and on her Instagram.


4 thoughts on “Magical Butterfly Forest – Lightroom & Photoshop Editing Tutorial + Interview of Alexa Machado Photography”

  1. The Magical Butterfly Forest tutorial was great. I learned that I could move the butterflies among other new skills. Thank you.


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