This article will cover my retouching process exclusively for Adobe Photoshop CC. You can utilize Lightroom or other popular programs like Capture One for some of the retouching, but the major steps will require the use of Photoshop.
Learning where to place your key light and what angle to give it is easy using the six foundational lighting patterns photographers rely on for consistent results. These six simple, yet highly effective, lighting patterns are the go-to guide for an endless variety of predictable, repeatable lighting effects. In fact, one of these lighting patterns, Rembrandt Light, has been in practice since the master painter Rembrandt first used it.
At some point in our image-viewing lives, we’ve all been enamored with a photograph where gels and color were used to augment it. Whether this image has a small kicker accent of gelled lighting or is created entirely with it, we respond to that infusion of color—the image has a larger impact on the viewer. In many ways, the underlying story of a certain image can only be fully revealed through the use of color and gels.
The moment you realize you can customize the quality of the light you’re creating to fit the images you’re capturing is the moment you realize there is no one-size-fits-all lighting. With artificial light, we attempt to recreate light that occurs in nature. Absent that, lighting looks unnatural and in this photographer’s humble opinion ends up doing more harm than good. It ends up being a distraction rather than a supporting element.
Storytelling is what we do as humans. It’s in the movies we see, the books we read, the music we listen to—it’s even in that commercial for your laundry detergent or favorite soft drink. Now more than ever, creating a narrative is the key to engaging an audience that is constantly bombarded by content—and more and more photographers are being hired to fabricate these stories for brands.
As you cull your most recent wedding, you might be asking yourself, “When do I go black & white?” Throughout my career, I have displayed both color and black & white photos in my portfolio. I enjoy black & white images, because there’s simply something different to them.
Black & white should be used to remove distractions from your image and help bring more focus to your subject. A black & white portrait can help focus on your subject’s emotion, as well as eliminate color patterns that take attention away from them. The key is to use black & white to help communicate your vision more efficiently than a color image would do.
When it comes to soft light, size matters! Yep, I went there. Hey, come on, who can resist a good cheesy photo joke? Not I! But seriously, its true—when you want soft light, the larger and broader the light source used, the softer the quality of the resulting light.
To re-create the classic Hollywood self-portrait, we will first analyze and reverse-engineer some portraits from that time and style. Next, we’ll choose what kind of lights and modifiers to use. Then, finally, we’ll position those lights and take the shot to see what results we get.
I really believe that learning to properly use a bounced flash will give you a much greater degree of freedom when you are on a shoot. In venues that allow for it, you will be instantly prepared for any lighting condition and will no longer be shackled to the off-camera flash or sent scrambling for one to mount to the camera.