Photoshop offers an exceedingly powerful tool to photographers. It is up to us to use or abuse it; keep it within bounds or go over the top. The fact that it allows us to do so does not mean that we should make every model’s neck 4 inches longer, eyes reminiscent of Japanese comic strips, and their skin that looks more like electrically charged plasma devoid of texture. This series will explore the process for producing pleasing, plausible portrait photography of models, family, and friends. At the same time, we must not give in to the “power of the dark side” and make impressionable youngsters envy impossibly formed models in our photographs.
Photography is a complex process that engages and uses the mind, the senses, the tools of the trade, skills in using them, and interacts with the environment. These interactions form our experiences and influence the development of our sensibilities, the tools we use or add to our arsenal, and the skills we learn from these experiences. Indeed, at this session today there will be a new set of experiences, a new way of looking at things, and you will each take with you different elements that will affect, positively or negatively, your sensibilities, the tools you use, how you learn them, and so on. Your photography in general is the result of the interaction of the following elements:
Your photographic sensibilities will guide you towards developing your style and lean you towards certain kinds of images and away from others. These inclinations will make you seek certain tools to learn and develop skills to achieve the results you like. Your experiences will strengthen your views or alter them. Although in this program I will cover only the “Tools” section of this model, their relationships are very significant as they form and shape your style and skills. I should state the obvious at the outset: This presentation will reflect my sensibilities and my mastery of the tools you will hear. Photoshop is just another tool to me and I strive to produce natural results that do not scream “Photoshopped!” and the people do not look like a new kind of species from another planet with plastic skin, light emitting eyes, better than perfect teeth that seem almost fluorescent. At the end of the session, I hope I will have made a case for the above and shown you the tools to accomplish that. Whether you like it or not, choose to use this approach or another, or even to consider this approach and this set of tools will depend on your photographic sensibilities.
Model shoots, glamour photography have been around since the early days of photography. The high point in the history of this genre was, of course, Hollywood glamour photos of movie stars, and the best-known photographer of the era was George Hurrell. I am sure anyone interested in model shoots has seen Hurrell’s work, his dramatic lighting, and the unmistakable aura of the stars he photographed. Jean Harlow, Judy Garland, Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, and many more stood there on a piece of paper looking larger than life. Hurrell had a way of transforming the person into a persona, life to larger than life; his photography is still a benchmark for many who are interested in this genre of work.
Elements of Glamor Photography
Any photographic endeavor has two main parts: Technical excellence and artistic vision. Those photographs that rise above the crowd in their artistic vision and technical excellence in achieving that vision become memorable; they are striking, imitated, inspiring. Although I will often acknowledge the artistic vision and allude to that during the program, the main focus of this presentation will remain on the technical side of the process, more specifically the postprocess. This is so in part due to the time limitations and, even to a larger extent, the dimensions of artistic vision may entail discussing and exploring the subject at length. It is also important to accept the fact that this is not a workshop and you will not actually do anything or learn the intricacies of the tools I will present for your consideration; time is too limited for that. Instead, take this program as an “appetizer”, food for thought in your exploration of the tools and processes to bring your artistic vision to life. One 60-minute program will, out of necessity, only scratch the surface in exploring a subject. I will feel very satisfied, rewarded in fact, if this short presentation piques your interest in exploring the tools in greater detail.
Technical Issues in Glamor and Model Photography
Photography has always had a strong technical, some say mechanical, side. Glamour photography is no exception. The finished product is the result of a meaningful collaboration between three main players: The model, the photographer, and the equipment like the camera, light, and in these days the computer. In order to produce results that successfully translate the photographer’s artistic vision, all the participants in this process need to work together. The lighting must be just so, the model must have the right attitude and project that, the camera and the lens must record an image as faithfully as possible, and the photographer must be the master of all her or his photographic arsenal.
A Suggested Workflow
Today’s digital photography relies heavily on information and information processing. The very essence of photographic process has become information driven, information dependent, and information rich. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the recommended workflow will favor capturing as much information as possible, process it in the best possible way, and using it to produce an output that yields the desired results for all.
- Smart Shoot
- Restrained, well-tempered post process
- High quality, natural looking, and pleasing output and presentation
Next: Smart Shoot