Anybody who photographs “normal people” will hear this question – every single shoot!
It’s our “question everyone asks”.
People want to look their best and they put their trust in you, also a great Icebreaker.
The answer is “Yes of course”, we always do “something” to the photograph, just how far and how long we spend on the shot is a budget consideration – and that’s the purpose of this blog to show a few things we can do.
There are LOADS of tools and techniques available to us these days:-
- some quick “make you look amazing” filters, which are fast and affordable – but can make you look a little plastic
- some have clever filters to find and brighten your eyes and teeth
- some use machine learning and advanced artificial intelligence – these can do do a cracking job, but cost a fortune!
- Some high-end Photoshop techniques (e.g “Frequency Separation” and “Dodge and Burn”) can take a skilled Photoshop retoucher hours, with results that look amazing – it’s how cover images for fashion magazines are created
Andy Taylor Boocock
Let us have a look at the progress of this photo of Andy.
Above, straight out of the camera it is quite a dark and Moody photo. The reason is that I want the background dark and mysterious for the photo. I had to lower the power of the flashes to stop them from lighting the background. It’s one of those challenges of “location shooting”. Stopping light going where you don’t want it!
I send the photo to dxo photolab – I really like its lens correction and sharpening, seems more refined than Adobe have managed so far. You will not see a huge change from the original at this resolution, but the “detail” is amazing from this step – especially for prints.
I’ve changed the background to be cooler and slightly purple using Lightroom, I thought it would contrast with Andy’s outfit. I’ve also brightened Andy quite a bit to make him pop out of the background.
This is where we look at the skin in Photoshop.
Andi doesn’t have many blemishes, so we didn’t need the healing tool in Photoshop. I used a technique called dodge and burn which is designed to even out skin tones, giving a natural look.
We are not “blurring the pixels” so make things softer, as many techniques do, but hanging how neighbouring pixels are so they look more even. It’s a more natural way to soften skin – though more time-consuming.
I returned to Lightroom to add final tweaks – if you notice I have darkened the edges of the photo a little (called a vignette), slightly lightened the shadows from his glasses on the cheeks, and sharpened up the texture on his jacket.
And that’s as far as I’d go with this one.
Jana – Dental Nurse
Here’s a shot from a busy Dental Surgery in Huddersfield
It’s taken in Reception with the company logo in the background – I positioned a couple of lights to brighten the area and light Jana.
Straight out of the camera, the RAW file. Just the baseline.
Send the RAW to DXO to sort out sharpness and lens corrections, again you won’t see much difference at this resolution, but if it ever gets printed, it’ll add a bit of magic to the shot.
Basic edits in LIGHTROOM – so basics like:-
- get the white balance correct, easy with a white wall
- Brighten the background in this case – it’s a white wall, so make it very bright
- Adjust the brightness and colour intensity on Jana
This is often where “basic editing” would end – you’ve got the colour, contrast and brightness correction, and the shot looks good to go for many use cases.
Next would be to look at the skin, as with Andy above, Jana has great skin so it may be hard to compare – but I’ve applied Dodge and Burn, and Blemish removal, to this next shot – it’s subtle but does look more refined. Look at the cheeks – it’s just a little more smooth and balanced after D&B.
So now we can “tidy up” a little – in the background, we can see a cupboard handle and the pegs that hold the sign in place. There’s nothing “wrong” with them, but we can easily remove them to clean things up.
Also, just used a little bit of “frequency separation” to soften a few smile/laughter lines – very subtle again. See if you can spot them.
And the final step in here was to brighten teeth and eyes, we use masked Curves Layers to do this so we can finely adjust how bright they are.
Sometimes you go too far with this and they look like vampires. When you come back the next day and realise you got carried away, you can adjust the curves down to something more human!
So…. Can you Photoshop me?
Yes – and hopefully these show one of the workflows photographers can do for you. There are many, some may just use Portrait Professional which instantly makes you look like a doll (flawless skin, bright eyes and teeth etc.) or go through these more intricate techniques.
It’s all down to the budget which route you choose – some more challenging photos could take a day if you used Frequency Separation and Dodge and Burn, or a couple of minutes in other tools!