Professional Portrait Retouching

I’ve been retouching photos for many years, and always found retouching portraits to be tedious and difficult.

I found that my old habits die hard. I easily fall back on methods that work, but take forever to accomplish.

Photoshop has evolved and keeping up with all the new tools can be daunting, unless you take the time to learn.

I finally decided it was time to improve my skills, and Joined NAPP and Kelby Training.

As a creative director, it’s important to be up-to-date with computer skills, and as a part-time weekend-warrior photographer, I began to feel the pressure to improve quickly.

I purchased Scott Kelby’s Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques book, and was thrilled with how much material there is jam-packed into his book.

I put many of the exercises through their paces, and began practicing.

I was thrilled with how much time I saved, and how great the results are.

The results are subtle, but you’ll see Samantha’s skin is smoother, her eyes are brighter and sharper, I added color to her lips, and highlights to her hair. Removed blemishes and stray hairs, and cleaned-up a rough edge of clothing on her shoulder.

Here’s the results:

Before

After

Let me know what you think!

Cheers, Ivan

Decoration or Design

Thinking about all my years as a creative director and a photographer, design is embedded in me. I may not always succeed, but I know when it’s right and why. By definition, design means problem solving. Communicating an idea through visual means. Not to be confused with art. Art is self expression.

As a fan of Paul Rand, the legendary designer, I’m reminded of how he loathed the direction design had taken when the personal computer took the world by storm in the early 90’s.

Rand was teaching at Yale when he wrote several papers on this very topic. Young designers took to the new medium and began to explore it’s potential. The outset of that exploration was a lot of bad design, still happening today unfortunately. The principles were quickly forgotten in lieu of a filter that would produce “a cool effect”.

Design became less of a problem solving discipline and was turning into mere decoration. Colors, textures, swirls, mixtures of fonts, various sizes and weights… the list goes on. In a short time, trends would develop, and various filter effects and styles would come and go.

The designer was becoming a decorator. Little thought on how, why or for what purpose, just merely to choose a font or apply a filter, was good enough. Worst yet, clients bought it. Design standards lowered.

Paul Rand so eloquently expressed his displeasure with this new direction in a piece that I recommend all creatives should read:

Confusion and Chaos
http://www.paul-rand.com/index.php/site/thoughts_confusionChaos/

More about Paul Rand here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Rand

In recent years, I have re-invigorated my passion for photography. I have observed some parallels in photography with design. Brought about by the advances in computer technology today, things like high dynamic range (HDR), tilt shift, and pre-sets and filters to achieve painterly effects, are all employed.

I understand the need to explore and try new ways of self expression. But I can’t help feeling that we are entering the trap of becoming decorators again.

At what point is it art? I suppose if there’s a large enough audience that appreciates the aesthetics, you could call it art.

But, is it? I have some thoughts I’d like to share.

A good composition, to me, is far more important than any decoration or filter applied to it.

When the filter or effect becomes the dominant focal point, it detracts from the composition.

As for originality –

The French painter, Claude Monet invented a new style that was never done before. Called Impressionism, Monet was an original. No painter had ever expressed their work in this way before. However, despite his new technique, Monet’s compositions were spectacular.

Pablo Picasso used Cubism. Another original.

Georges Seurat was famous for Pointillism. His technique, composition and style are unmistakable.

These painters did something new. Not always liked by the masses at the time, but new and evocative.

All these painters developed forms of self expression we know as original art. But make no mistake, their compositions were exceptional.

That brings us to today. I find it hard to imagine what Georges Seurat would have thought of the Pointilist filter in Photoshop.

The styles and techniques were original. I suppose if someone creates a style or filter that is truly original for a particular photo application, that can be considered art.

Absolutely.

I’ve seen some astonishing work by some young, and original artists/photographers. Just visit the galleries in Chelsie, NYC, and you’ll see for yourself.

But one must be so careful not to get caught in trends, filters, effects, and and lose sight of overpowering a beautiful composition with mere decoration.

Go ahead and experiment, and explore. It’s fun and it’s how we discover new things.

Just remember what Paul Rand said about mere decoration.

Don’t let the effects over power. The original intent will be lost.

Cheers,
Ivan

I was think’in

Photographers everywhere are taking it on the road. Twittering, flickering, facebooking, blogging, flogging, schnogging… every way possible to promote.

So, i thought why not moi! I can take it on the road to!

I’ve got wheels!

I’ve learned a few things!

I can even do facebark, dig this, flick that, twip, flop, scartch and sniff !

In my bag, I’ll be carrying peanuts to feed the squirrels, a whistle for my dog, and my old trusty camera.

That ought to do it.

So, without further ado, here’s MY ride:

scooter

I would’ve posted a map with pins, but there’s no map small enough of my driveway. Not even google.

Here’s how I got the shot:

My ride, rigged with Manfrotto magic arm.

Ok, so I won’t be visiting 29 cities in 6 weeks.

I don’t even have a philosophy. Just me and my dog, and the squirrels.

More here: on Flickr

Read the Terms!

I was about to enter a photo contest promoted by a photographer to whom I admire, with hopes of winning the prize of some nifty FJ Westcott lighting equipment, but I’m glad I didn’t.

The photo I was to enter was of  a little girl I had photographed at a charity event family photo shoot with the  Smiles Are Free organization, but I thought best to read the Terms before I press the upload button. Good thing I did!

Buried in the legal text was this copy:
“(ii) You agree that Content shall be,…a “work made for hire,” …with all rights therein, including without limitation the exclusive copyright, being the property of Sponsor. Otherwise, if your entry or any element thereof is considered not to be a “work made for hire,” …unconditionally and irrevocably transfer to Sponsor all right, title, and interest in the Content (including, without limitation, the copyright) in any and all media whether now known or hereafter devised, in perpetuity, wherever produced or located, including without limitation the right to use, copy, distribute, perform, display and to create derivative works of the Content for advertising, trade, other commercial purposes or any other purpose.”

Yikes!

Nope! No way will I relinquish my copyright of a photo I took, just to enter a contest. I find this deceptive, and feel terrible for all those who blindly uploaded photos of kids, just for a contest.

Shame on the people that do this!