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Ready, Set, Photoshop

As some of you may know I love Photoshop, and I’m not shy about liking it. I know in my industry it can be a bit of a touchy subject. On the one hand everyone should feel free to be themselves and shouldn’t feel like they need to hide their natural beauty behind an filter. But on the other hand there is nothing wrong with wanting to look like yourself, but at your best. I personally like Photoshop, and there are so many reasons why. In this post I am hoping to shed some light behind the scenes and talk about the different ways I use Photoshop, and maybe even change a few peoples minds about how “evil” it is.


This may be an obvious one, but when it comes to portraits the number one thing I use Photoshop for is blemish removal and stray hairs. I personally don’t think there is anything wrong with a little Photoshop to help you look your best. Life happens; we get stressed out and busy, and that sometimes means we have breakouts on our skin and bags under our eyes. However, when I personally have portraits of myself done, I don’t want to look at it and think “that lady needs some sleep,” or “wow, my skin is so red.” I want to look at my photo and think I look good. A portrait is a reflection of who we are. To me removing blemishes/stray hairs/ bags under eyes is not taking away or modifying an individual's face. It’s making them look like themselves on their best day. I will concede that many photo editors do take their blemish retouching too far, and that's how you get those plastic looking models that we see in social media and marketing campaigns. To me, we shouldn’t be taking out things like pores or wrinkles. Those things are part of who we are. They are there on our best days and our worst. Smile lines, wrinkles, and scars, to me, show what kind of life you’ve lived and tell a story. Removing those features takes away from a photo and hides who you really are. When this happens the image is no longer a portrait and is more of an interpretation piece. It’s deceitful and should not be done when doing portrait work.

Colour Correction

Although I know many people are going to argue that Lightroom is a better place for colour correction I think it depends on what you are trying to correct. For a general filter or corrections you want to apply to the whole image I would agree. However Lightroom’s curves layers are way more annoying to use when you are trying to colour correct for specific tones or items, where as Photoshop allows you to be more precise in a faster way. For example say you were outside in winter with your client. The subject will probably have red all around their nose and cheeks. This is where I like to use Photoshop. By using my hues and saturation, or using my curves layer I can correct just those areas without messing with the rest of my filter. This works for sunburns as well.

For me I also really like to keep my blacks black and my whites white. This means that I try to keep minimal colour in those shades, and that I don’t like those tones to appear muddied either. I like to use the eyedropper tool to sample my whites and blacks to see what colours are showing through, then I use the curves layer to manually adjust the colours to a more neutral tone. There are a million ways to do this same idea, this is just my preference.

Removing Objects and Strangers Because I am often photographing in public places there are usually people in the background of my images, as well as sometimes garbage, birds, cars etc. As a photographer I have 3 options: I can interrupt the shoot to wait for things to move out of the way, I can move things out of the way, or Photoshop those annoyances out later. I strive for a balance between these options. The less time I have to spend cleaning up things at a computer the better. However I also don’t want to ruin the mood of my photo shoot. In other words, if I am working with a small kid and they are giggling away and I’m getting great photos with great expressions, I’d rather just retouch distractions out later rather than tell the kid to wait while that stranger walks by. I could end up missing those expressions, and may not be able to get those same faces back afterwards. So being able to remove objects after the facts is way better for me and the client in the end.

Just for Fun

If you have been following me for a while, I am sure you may have noticed that I am a bit of a nerd, and often have the pleasure of working with clients who are just as nerdy as me. This opens up so many opportunities for me. I LOVE creating nerdy wedding photos. It is just SO fun to me. I have done scenes from Zelda and Firefly, I’ve made light sabers glow, added aliens to the backgrounds, and so much more. I just really love giving my clients something different for their wedding photos that they can get excited about and show off to their friends. Building scenes is fun and photoshop is what makes it all possible. There is absolutely no way I could make these movie effects happen without it and not have them look cheap.

I like to think that the points I have made show how Photoshop is not inherently evil. There are so many cool ways we can use it to make images just a little bit stronger. Photoshop is a tool, and it is only as good as the person operating it. The trick is finding someone who knows how to use it responsibly. Once you do that you are set to have yourself some images that leave you looking and feeling your best.

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