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.
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.
My wife couldn't watch me edit photos of her. She told me that it reminded her of how much older she was getting. As I would work on a picture, she would point out marks she wanted me to remove, or tell me how to handle things that the tiny amount of makeup she wore didn't cover. For her, even though she had great skin and an athletic body, it was a process she didn't enjoy watching, but she did love the resulting images. Now, this happened years ago, and it was an excellent lesson for me in terms of thinking about how clients would potentially look at their resulting images. It also created a set of guidelines I now use when retouching, and I wanted to pass those on to you, so you can avoid the same pitfalls I did.
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.
Over the last two-and-a-half years, we have built a luxury brand in a small market. We are by far the most expensive photography option in our area—I am talking three to ten times more expensive than others. To be honest, we don’t think we are five times better than the other photographers in our town, and we don’t think our end product is five times better than their products either. However, we are able to charge ten times what they are, and still fill our calendar, because of the time we have spent making sure from start to finish that our clients are getting an incredible experience.
Capture One has been around for quite some time, and it’s partnered with Phase One—you know, those super-expensive cameras that probably none of us will ever be able to afford or find a very practical way to use even if we could. They’re great, don’t get me wrong—that’s not where I’m going here. I’m simply saying that it’s a $50,000 camera, so you can expect pretty high-end things from that company. Their editing (and really, originally tethering) program is called Capture One. Now, I haven’t used this for very long, it’s only been about six months, but what I can tell you is that once I saw the difference between Lightroom and Capture One, I just wasn’t satisfied in Lightroom anymore.
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.
this isn’t an article that is trying to convince you to outsource your post-production. It’s an article to explain how inefficiency in post-production is costing you serious money, and I am going to show you the process for creating an efficient workflow for yourself. I will say, though, that I am of the strong belief that once you are shooting more than 25 weddings a year, it’s time to send your post-production to someone else. However, most photographers are still shooting under that number, and today I want to show you a process that will work to kick some of your inefficient habits.
Now, in the world of post-production, we tend to see two camps. There’s that of purists, who believe in just delivering images as they were captured, reminiscent of the days of film before we had Photoshop. And then there are those on the other end of the spectrum who believe in using software to shape, alter, and polish their images before presenting to their clients. I'd like to think I live somewhere in the middle, which I am sure many of you can relate to. What I would like to do here is explore how the right amount of post-production can help you and your business stand out.
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.