I teach how to mix the creative and the technical while at a shoot. That means nailing the lighting and the posing while keeping the image fresh and “un-posed.” When you do what I was taught hands-on in Texas, you’ll get images that look perfect out of camera, that require no retouching or adjustments.
I share a few processes that you have to learn and do while shooting: (1) three steps to lighting all areas of a woman amazingly well, (2) three steps to a perfect exposure and color balance, (3) how to get great expressions that are real, captivating and believable, and (4) how to keep finding new poses that are different and natural and without using a pose book.
If you use my steps, the exposure will be perfect, the color will be perfect, the details of the pose and the lighting will be spot on, and the image will have spontaneity and life to it.
This first image above, is my finished image with only some very slight enhancements. The only things I’ve done to this image are my 1 minute skin retouch (which is custom and doesn’t require any 3rd party plug-ins and rarely takes even a full minute), I then added some light leaks from my Power Pack Actions, and a custom edge from my Edgy Edges Volume II collection.
To compare it, you can see the original below. Note that it has no adjustments, no effects, nothing – no exposure adjustments, no lightening, no darkening, no color corrections, not even cropping. It is as I shot it.
Using my steps during the shoot means that you’ll start with images that come out of your camera that look great, in fact better than most photographer’s images look after lots of computer time. But with great images out of the camera, any computer time is now fun. The only time I spend on an image like this is deciding whether or not if I like it, and if I do, then working it up with a few fast enhancements.
I’ve found that photographers are usually either naturally creative (right brained) or naturally technical (left brained). But to be a great photographer, we have to be good at both, but we also can’t think on both sides at a time. Therefore I teach the tools to help you strengthen your weaker side, plus how to know which side we are on at any given moment, and also know what to do to switch back and forth.
I teach how to do this, because in any shoot, time is limited. We need to get images that are really creative while at the same time, very technical, and to be able to do it over and over again without excuses and on demand in a short amount of time.
For this shoot, I had not met with this model before, I did not know her, and I only had this model for a little more than 5 minutes in this area. I had to be fast, I had to set up my lighting, I had to teach and explain what I was doing, and I had to get great images and not sacrifice creativity and quality.
The results are great. She has a real smile that sparkles, her pose works and is new and uncontrived, the lighting works on both her face and waist, and the image was perfect in camera and didn’t need any post-production work.
Sometimes people (yes even photographers), will wrongly assume that I get good images because I’m lucky or because I have a pretty girl as a model, or because I’m good at Photoshop. You’ve probably heard the phrase too: “You can’t take a bad photo of her.”
On one hand, it is true that some people are easier to light from aggressive angles than others, but everyone, no matter who they are, looks better or worse (never the same), depending on the skill of the photographer. I want photographers to succeed, because it raises the entire industry. I don’t want photographers to get good images accidentally, but rather I want them to create them on purpose and know why certain techniques work or don’t work.
This model is young and has some natural beauty, but she is showing her stomach and waist which makes the shoot actually harder. An average photographer would set up a light where someone had taught them, and then begin shooting. Perhaps they would even try lighting her face certain ways but assume that her waist will just look good because she’s skinny. In either case, these average techniques will actually make her look heavier without realizing it. Beyond that, posing many times gets lost when shooting pretty girls. Photographers get excited to finally photograph someone who’s pretty, and they lose the details. When working quickly in a shoot like this, the details are still important. A slight move in her hand or waist can make or break the entire photo. Even a pretty girl who is allowed to pose herself will mean results that are sub-par.
I teach exactly how to get superb images on purpose, and not on accident. As I’m shooting, I’m adjusting the details of the pose, I am constantly adjusting the light to work with the moving pose, and I’m lighting to specifically accentuate 3 areas of a woman so that she’ll (1) look thinner and better, and (2) won’t need retouching.
That way when I get back to the computer, I have a variety of images, each not needing any real work. The hardest part is actually deciding which are my favorites and flagging those. From there I finish them up in Photoshop using some of my various methods and products. In workshops I teach people how to make their own products so that work is fast on the computer afterwards.
In this image below, lighting and exposing for this chandelier in the background was a very fun challenge. I don’t know who set up this background for me, but I really liked the chandelier. It gave me some great things to teach and talk about in the shoot. The chandelier has to be metered and the studio lights have to be adjusted in such a way that the chandelier doesn’t look too bright or too dark. It all has to seem natural, including the directions of the lights. Note that I also lit her from the side to suggest that this chandelier was throwing in a light on her hair and waist.
I also had a chance to shoot this same model about an hour earlier, and again I only had her for about 8 minutes in a hallway while teaching and allowing everyone else to shoot too. I had no background and there were tons of people around me (mostly behind be and shooting over me, but many people behind the model too trying to see).
I problem solved creatively, and used two studio lights to create this, right in the hallway with people walking around behind her. I metered the studio lights in order to create a huge differential so the background would go black. I thought the black outfit on black would be a great look, as long as she didn’t blend in too much. I used one light as a rim to separate and create depth, and the other as a main.
In the same area of the hall with a different model, I used a piano as a prop. Same process as the previous model, being specific in each area of the photo. The result is a great image with a great smile, and I love how the aqua dress stands out.
During my class demo with a studio background, I shot this model. This first image below has no retouching, no color adjustments, etc. Again, the idea is to get everything perfect creatively and technically in the camera.
From there, I could take the image artistically in many directions. Here are some ideas I came up with while demoing some of my products in the tradeshow. This first images uses my 1 minute retouching (shown in the Photoshop training on this site), my Power Pack Actions, Swag Bag Textures, and an edge from Edgy Edges Volume 2.
I then took that further as a painting to demo my Auto Paint Brushes created for Photoshop. I created this in front of people in about 3 minutes. I think I’ll repaint this again for a future video tutorial, and actually finish it up with a cleaner edge.
And one more image of this same model. (Quick 1 min skin retouching, effect from my Power Pack Actions, and some fleurs from my Contessa Fleur Collection.)
If you’re interested in my products, you can view the store where you can get package deals or just individual items. Use promo code “SUCCESS” to save 15% at checkout. Also view the tutorial videos of me using various products or even teaching advanced Photoshop and Lightroom. The discount code works for a membership as well.
And until next time, America. 🙂