Friday, March 6, 2009
I love shooting portraits. Every person has such a unique look, like a snowflake, no two people are exactly alike. When shooting portraits of women vs men, it is important to me to maintain the manliness of the male as well as the softness of the female. When it comes to children, rarely ever do I find I need to retouch their skin, their skin is usually flawless. As we age, some people age more gracefully than others, or some have had skin conditions that left marks from the dreaded teen years!
What I have found with people wanting portraits, is it is definitely important to not recreate them in Photoshop, but rather gently soften the skins normal conditions. There are those who don't want to see themselves as they really are, but for the most part, I have noticed most do want to see themselves as they are. As a photographer or an artist it is our job to see the shot and capture it, most flattering to the person you are shooting, but that doesn't mean you can't add to the portrait in post processing just enough to give that added umph factor.
I took a few portraits of my youngest daughter Lexi with my beau John, the other night. She has flawless skin, and he has the rugged look that thirty plus years add.
In post processing, I wanted to maintain the soft, feminine and youthful look of my daughter, without making her look plastic (over softening) so I opened the image up in Photoshop and did some basic adjustment commands to levels and contrast first. Then I created another layer via copy by pressing Ctrl J (PC shortcut/Mac has a different shortcut), then added a High Pass filter (set at 50%) and set it for Soft Light. Sometimes there are little adjustments needed like reducing the opacity of the layer if the filter seems too dark. Also check the eyes to make sure they haven't darkened too much, sometimes you may want to use the eraser tool to just remove the filter details over the eyes, so you don't lose detail in the iris, then flatten the image layers.
When you look at your composition at this point, you see the photo kind of pops! You definitely see more detail in your image, as well as some deepening of shadows and colors. You also will notice though, any blemishes or irregularities in the skin are more enhanced. At this point you want to soften those issues.
To soften the skin you make another layer via copy and go to filters. In filters find Blur, then go to Gausian Blur. You want to set it to approximately 10%, then go over to Opacity and reduce it to 50% as well. Make sure your background color is set to black, then while pressing Alt, go down to the bottom right of your layers window and press the Mask icon.
At this point I go to my tools and choose the paintbrush. I set the paintbrush to 100% and start going over the skin of my female model. You will see the blur accentuating the softness of her skin. If your male model seems to have a bit too much rough detail in his face, you might consider running the brush at 50% across his features. I did this with John in these shots, in my opinion it balanced the composition better. I hope this gave a little added ideas for portraits and post processing in Photoshop. Though I am not a master, I thought it would be a little fun to share my technique for portraits.