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What program do you use? This is what I do with PSE.
I do a lot of messing with the levels. Enhance>Adjust Lighting>Levels. But after that if I want it to be even brighter (sometimes I don't...depends on the photos and the siggies) then I use Enhance>Adjust Lighting>Brightness/Contrast. And up the contrast until it's just how I want it. I also use the dodge/burn brush as needed. i.e. If the facial features don't show well enough I will "burn" the defining parts so they show up more. I spend a LOT of time playing with the pics to get them how I want.
There are also some filters I use some as well. But I edit them first, then use the filter, then edit them again. For the filter I sometimes use I first make the midtones all lighter. Then I use the filter. Then I mess with the levels. I have the top download on this page. I like the "mountain" filter. Welcome to optikVerve Labs - Home of virtualPhotographer
Sharon, wife to Noah; mom to Belle (12.5), Ryllan (10), Finn (6), and Zane (3).