When You Think the Retouch is Finished
I’ve got a lot of really great advice from a lot of really great instructors when it comes to photography and retouching so today I’d like to give an example of one of the best tips I got from Calvin Hollywood. This wonderful piece of advice as simple as it was turned out to be a game changer for me. I don’t remember off hand which class it was he gave this advice in since I’ve taken quite a few of his classes but in simple his advice was that once you’re done with your retouch to put the image aside and take a break. Come back to the image 10 minutes, a day, 2 days later, whatever works for you and look at it again with fresh eyes before deciding if you’re done.
When I started the retouch on this photo I figured it would be a pretty basic retouch. This was a test shoot with M2A Talent Management with Alison modeling for me. Alison is obviously beautiful and has plenty of experience modeling so the photography end and the beauty retouch was a breeze. Alison owns and operates M2A Talent Management and was modeling for me for an update to my portfolio. All Alison wanted from this photo was a basic retouch on a white or grey background.
So there it was, all done right? This took no time at all to complete as expected - outside of the challenge of extracting Alison from the background because of all that flying hair. Luckily Deke McClelland taught me the best way to extract all this hair but that’s a story for another day. Deke McClelland is an awesome instructor with a wealth of knowledge on pretty much anything you can possibly do with Photoshop. But what about Calvin Hollywood’s advice? I hadn’t forgotten it so I put the image aside and came back to it the next day. Unfortunately, when I looked at this photo the next morning I wasn’t completely happy with it. It’s a great photo but it wasn’t portfolio worthy yet, so back to the drawing board…
I decided to try the original gray background I took the photo on but it didn’t take long to realize it wasn’t much different from the white background so I didn’t need to walk away from this one to know I wasn’t done yet. Unfortunately I didn’t have any ideas of what direction I wanted to turn to push the envelope and get this photo to where I initially expected it to be. I sent the image to Alison since all she wanted was the white background and told her I was going to go farther with it for my portfolio but I wasn’t certain how far yet. I’d let her know when it was done.
Luckily when I started the image I looked up through my skylights and saw this cool cloud formation that was worthy of photographing. I initially thought about using the clouds as a background for the flying hair image but lo and behold I resisted my initial instinct because clouds have been done as backgrounds so often and I wanted something really unique. Just for kicks since I had my subject extracted I figured I would drop the clouds in and see what it looked like. Maybe it would spark another idea. I dropped the clouds in and what do you know? I actually liked the direction this was going in. I retouched the clouds to match the retouch I applied to Alison and it looked pretty good, I really liked it. But what about Calvin Hollywoods advice? I came back to this photo the next morning and what do you know? Not Portfolio Worthy After All :’-(
I tweaked a few things here and there until I realized the problem I was having with it. The top Alison was wearing needed to be retouched also. If Scott Kelby was in the room with me he would have kicked me in the rear. He’s continuously said retouching the clothes is one of the most important parts of the retouch and often the most forgotten. Once I dove into retouching the garment I realized I wanted it a different color so I added an adjustment layer and here’s the final image…
I just finished retouching this one so let’s see what happens when I sleep on it. I’m really loving this final photo right now so the point here is if I’d stopped when I thought I was done I would have really missed out on something spectacular. I think I’ll be able to show it off to Alison after I take another look at it tomorrow morning so Good Night to All.
These 2 photos on the other hand were no brainers for me, I knew the second I was done retouching both of them they were keepers and definitely still felt the same way the next morning, and the next morning, and the next morning…
Keywords: Alison, Calvin Hollywood, Deke McClelland, M2A Models, M2A Talent Management, Photoshop, Scott Kelby, advice, background, clothes, clouds, extract, extracting, flying, garment, gray, grey, hair, instructor, modeling, photo, photography, portfolio, retouch, retouching, test shoot, tips, white
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