I think I have fully recovered from my biggest and most strenuous week-long workshop of the year where I get little to no sleep and work and teach like crazy for a full week. It’s where a limited number of photographers come spend an entire week learning hands-on with me as I cover my entire system, everything from lighting, to digital workflow, to business.
I want to thank WHCC – White House Custom Colour for their sponsorship and additional support at Texas School. Besides paying for big parties and other expenses, they also sponsored me and gave my group some really great prizes. If you’re looking for a great lab with attention to detail and great customer service, I can’t recommend WHCC enough.
This event in Texas is always amazing and inspirational. I have received some of the best thank you emails and calls this past week from the photographers who trained with me, and I really appreciate it. I feel honored and grateful to be a mentor to photographers and help them learn and do better.
I have specific steps to creating a portrait so that I get exquisite lighting, truly capture someone’s personality, and also nail everything technically as well. It’s a balance of the right and left brain, getting technically perfect images with lots of emotion too. And my steps really do mean that the images look perfect out of camera, so that there’s no need for color corrections later, no need for adjusting brightness or contrast or anything else, and all images are so well lit that people’s skin is smooth without retouching, their under-eye area glows, there’s perfect catch lights in the eyes.
This means that there’s almost no workflow, but I also show photographers how to speed up their workflow too so that they’re speed demons. So with all this saved time not having to work on the computer, I like to take a little computer time to be an artist, not having to correct images, but rather having some fun creating some real works of art, taking them further with some processes like painting, creating collages, or blending in textures.
Here is an image created with one light, using the hotel’s wall as a background. Notice that she has great light in her eyes, a perfect shadow down her cheek, great skin tones, a wonderful expression – and nothing has been done to this image. My goal is to have images that look better coming out of the camera than most people’s images do after lots of photoshop. But if you can do it in reality, the resulting image is has a sense of realism and is far more captivating.
Then one art idea was to blend in textures into the background, so here it is after a bit of retouching and all my texture and edge work.
But my favorite version of this image was the painting that I created using my custom Photoshop brushes. I really like the broad brush strokes in the background and in her dress, but the really tight and smooth strokes in the face.
Here I shot this model with a brown background using a beauty dish. All my studio gear, backgrounds and lights were provided by Arlington Camera (a great place to shop and order from). And being very specific in my lighting setup, again, these have no need for retouching. I did nothing to eyes or skin, and just converted them to black and white and designed this cool 9-up collage.
Same model with the brown background again, but this time I blended in some textures, added some of my fleurs in the corner, toned it cool using my actions, and finished it with an edge.
Here’s the same image taken another direction, painting it instead.
Here are more un-retouched images. For variety, I took the model to the curtains in the conference room, and shot these all with one studio light. Because of my process that I teach of mixing full technical and full creativity, the results are really creative and emotional images that are perfect out of camera. All I need to do is decide what to do with them artistically, and I decided to design up a couple collages, first with four images…
…and another with three images.
And I show everyone how to create their own custom trio templates like these too.
Finally, using this same model, I took her to the hotel lobby because of the cool Einstein lights above the bar. With two mobile flashes set manually, I took all my measurements, set up, and created some really dramatic images. Here is one with just my basic retouching on skin and eyes, but nothing else done to it.
I then toned it with my California Sunset action…
And did the same to two other images for this cool set of three images.
And I shot other fun models with my studio setup and made lots of cool images. This girl was adorably beautiful and had great eyes.
Tamyra I had photographed last year, so it was great to see her again. I did a painting of her as well.
And also shot her with one light using the hotel’s wall. I couldn’t decide if I liked these better color or black and white.
And there were so many others that I shot of each model, not to mention the shootout on Thursday. For that I photographed a series of models in various locations, each for only a few minutes.
Here’s a sample of them, again, none retouched or enhanced, or changed. All of these that I turned in are straight out of the camera. And that’s because my system of lighting works no matter where you are, inside or outside, no matter if you’re using studio lights or small flashes or even natural light. The key is the system of mixing technical and creativity, and knowing just how to measure and angle your lights so that you get perfect skin, perfect eyes, and great color balance without excuse.
Also notice that there are no two images the same. The other big trick is to shoot something different every single shot.
The light source doesn’t matter. What matters is the system, and knowing just how to use that light source to properly sculpt a person, flatter them, and also light them so well that they don’t need any retouching or color correction. The photographers that learn under me leaving knowing just how to do it. It’s not easy, but with some practice anyone can do it and make it their new habit.
A special thanks to my models for coming and doing such a great job, thanks for Arlington Camera for supplying me with gear, and a special thanks to my lab, WHCC – White House Custom Colour for their generous support.
If you want any of my products like my painting brushes, actions and other things that make Photoshop easier, or want my tutorial DVDs on lighting, Photoshop and more, check out my store and use coupon code “SUCCESS” at checkout to save 15%. And if you attended the event, you can call me for the next few days and get things at the convention price and I’ll ship them out to you.
I love speaking and teaching at Texas School. It is a wonderful place full of people that pour their whole heart and soul into making it a great event. I appreciate the opportunity to speak there and love the people that I’ve met there.
And did I mention that I played blues harp in a band there too? Here’s our official band photo shot by the famous John Hartman.
And here we are backstage before going on, shot with my point and shoot camera on a tadpole selfie stick. I’m still hoping to find some video of us playing. I know there’s some out there.
Well that’s it for now. Happy Shooting, and until next time, America.