How I bring an image to life

There is so much that goes into capturing an image. I like to assess the lighting situation, then compose my shot, adjust my camera (Nikon) settings (Shutter Speed, Aperture, and ISO), adjust my lighting (if I am using OCF), and finally make minor adjustments to both the pose and settings until I get the look I want. Each one of these sections I could talk for hours on, so to keep this a relatively short and focused blog, lets just assume you have captured a solid photo straight out of camera (SOOC).

First I import my session images into Lightroom. Then I go through and cull all the photos and look for the best ones from the shoot. I look at everything from minor differences in hand, body, and head placement, to subtle smile and eye changes in order to determine what I deem as the best images to present to my clients. Next, I go through and add one of two filters I now use to initially colorize all my photos. This helps produce a consistent look and style to all my photos. I learned how to colorize and shoot for a consistent classic look from my photographer mentor Jenny Haury. After applying my colorization filter and tweaking exposure for each photo to ensure they are all the best versions up to this point, I export them as a Photoshop Document (PSD) file.

Now that I have my PSD files, I choose one to begin the editing process. This is where the real fun and molding of the image begins. The first thing I start with is cleaning up major blemishes. I do this by using the healing brush tool. Once the blemishes are fixed, I work on cleaning up the skin tonal differences in a non-destructive manner called Local Dodging and Burning. After the Local Dodging and Burning is complete, I begin the Frequency Separation step. I have spent 4 years learning and refining my Frequency Separation technique, and this year I finally got it to a point where in my opinion it all looks natural, preserving the skin texture to the point I think perfectly matches my style. Once Frequency Separation is complete, it’s time to work the subjects eyes to subtly make them pop while still remaining natural looking. I do this by using a masked Curves Layer to get the look I want and painting away the areas I want to bring out. When I determine the skin and eyes are complete its time to move on to the final step of editing which is Global Dodging and Burning. This is a relatively simple process of using the Dodge tool to highlight the light areas and the Burn tool to darken the darker areas. By doing this it can bring dimension to an otherwise two dimensional image.

Editing at this point is complete. It’s now time to add the final touch to the photo and that is my standard Silver Foxx Filter that gives that final touch to my style. The best way to describe my photo style is a tint of magenta and yellow with faded blacks; this is inspired by Vanity Fair. Once on… photos are ready for print!