Sal said it best and it is the mantra that I have tried to live my young photography life by: “Innovate or die.” Innovation can always come from seeking education from others in our industry, but it must begin with you. Ask yourself a simple question: “What am I consistently struggling with?” Focus on that until you have a grasp on it.
I’m not a patient, nurturing person by nature, so being at home with a 2.5-year-old and a 5-month-old is literally taking up 120% of my effort, patience, and mental capacity. I couldn’t help but feel like the moment I’d put one toy away, another one had exploded all over the floor. How is this happening?! She’s only one kid! My head was spinning from her boundless energy and short attention span. So that’s where the idea for this image was born. Composites don’t have to be hard and daunting, and you don’t need to be a Photoshop guru to create them either. If you keep a few important concepts in mind, you’ll be shocked at how easy it is. In this article I’ll walk you through the step by step process for creating this image.
When it comes to portraits of children, we all struggle to balance capturing their energy and personality while getting in-focus images. Not to mention ones with kids with eyes open, looking and smiling at the camera. Of course, the parents are going to love almost every image, and this makes the photographer’s job easy, right? Well, you need to get the safe image they expect with their kids somewhat facing the camera, eyes open, and smiling. That moment isn’t easy to capture in one shot, so what we are going to create is the perfect portrait by swapping heads in Photoshop. Doing a bit of Photoshop does not mean you aren’t a good photographer. We can only control so much and are still required to deliver a somewhat perfect portrait.
As photographers, you should focus on making your client look their best, but do not transform them into someone they won’t recognize. The rule of thumb with retouching is to be subtle enough that it’s not even noticeable that you did it. For this level of editing, I find myself starting in Lightroom or another RAW processing program, then retouching in Photoshop. In my opinion, there is no other comparable tool, and with actions, using a tablet for pressure sensitivity, and using a non-destructive post-production workflow, I can run through multiple images with ease. So if you need to dust off your editing skills, these are the five steps to brush up on retouching in Photoshop.
Between all the tools, filters, layers, and even 3D capabilities, Photoshop can be an intimidating program to approach for those new to photo editing. However, Photoshop offers plenty of powerful tools that can transform your images quickly and effectively. Here, we will focus on three different methods for utilizing adjustment layers to create fun and beautiful toning for your images.
I am well aware that post-production can be intimidating and sometimes even overwhelming. That is exactly how I felt at the beginning, when I first started learning about Photoshop and practicing my skills. On the other hand, it is a great tool for unlocking your creativity and bringing your photography to the next level. After I realized the difference post-production can make, I never looked back, and spent days exploring new ways to improve my work and my skills. Still, all those skills can be futile if you do not think about the post-production process before you even take the photo. That is why the next section is an extremely important step in my creative process.
Every tool in Photoshop has a single letter you can tap to activate the tool. No multiple keys to remember (“Is it Shift or Alt?”), just tap a single letter on your keyboard, and that tool is ready to use. Many of the shortcuts make perfect sense, such as M for Marquee, C for Crop, T for Type and B for Brush. Others are a bit more of a stretch, such as V for the MoVe tool or W for the Quick Selection tool (since it shares the same slot as the Magic Wand). Some others make no real sense at all, making us feel that Adobe was running out of letters and just assigned them to random tools as there was nothing else available. Learning and remembering these single-letter shortcuts should be easier than trying to recall multi-key shortcuts (more on that later), but it will still take a while.
The majority of compositors use Photoshop. Knowing the controls and options will allow you to focus on the artwork instead of stumbling around looking for a filter or tool. Yes, being comfortable and knowing Photoshop well will take some time and effort. But seriously, since when was anything worthwhile easy to do? Shut off Dancing with the Stars and The Voice and instead spend some time playing around in Photoshop. Make yourself better.
As a photographer, ask yourself this question: how often do you break down a session into those key elements? Our creative path is usually inspired by other images we see, images that evoke the desired adjective of “beautiful” and also conjure the phrase, “I want to shoot something like this too!” You get all the necessary components together and start photographing. But are you replicating what you saw as your inspiration, or are you returning to the basics of beauty—the definition of the word?
Creating a beautiful piece of composite artwork can seem like a monumental task to achieve. All those Photoshop steps and techniques, all the secrets that you don’t know, and the famous phrase, “Oh, I will never be as good as so-and-so.” Well, today is your lucky day, because I’m going to give you the biggest secret of them all.