“A Few Great Portraits Are Better Than Dozens of Snapshots”
The best photographers take a lot of images, pick a few of the very best, and optimize them for you. Magazine photographers in NYC will work all day with a model, shooting hundreds of images. A few of very best are chosen for the magazine, and a professional retoucher optimizes them to perfection. We aren’t in NYC, but you can have the same process but with less time shooting time (unless you are a model and really want to shoot all day) and without the high dollar NYC rates. If you believe quality is better than quantity, we will be happy working together.
“Event photography” is different from portrait shoots and the style is more photojournalistic. You usually want a lot of event images. Each image will need a 3 or 4 minute tonality adjustment.
The click of the shutter is only part of the creative process. The rest takes place in the digital darkroom. All of the photos you see in first class magazines and books are digitally retouched. Children, teens, men, and women are all retouched so they look their very best. You deserve that too! Every portrait photo I provide will get a minimal, standard, or enhanced retouch, depending on your preferences. We will discuss retouching options prior to out photo shoot. Here are the options available to you.
A “minimal” retouch always begins with tonality adjustments (see the section below for details), color correction, and removing those temporary skin blemishes that can happen to all of us. I also remove red eye, and set the color space to one that will give you the best image quality at most photo labs. A minimal retouch is best for children’s portraits.
A “standard” or “enhanced” retouch is best for most adults. A standard retouch includes the minimal retouch steps plus more items on the list like brightening eyes, whitening teeth, and removing or softening major wrinkles. An enhanced retouch includes just about everything on the list. Most professional models want an enhanced retouch and it is also the best choice for beauty, glamour, and boudoir shoots.
When I am retouching a photo I take the time to do it right. Some photographers take shortcuts to save time and the result is “plasticy”, waxy, unnatural looking skin that is obvious to everyone. A professionally retouched photo does not scream “retouched image!” With a first class enhanced retouching job you can see the original skin texture but it has been carefully softened and smoothed.
The real test of a retouching job is to look at some large prints. An online image doesn’t tell the whole story. You are welcome to come to my studio to see some of my large prints (from 11×14 to 20×30 inches) and judge the quality for yourself. You should never choose a photographer before you look at their large prints. In the good old days when most portrait photographers had a store front on Main Street, you could walk right up to the window and check out the quality of the photographer’s work. Now a lot of first rate portrait photographers have their studio in their home so you have to make an appointment to go see their work. The trip is worth it. That is especially true now that an increasing number of online photographers aren’t even using their own photos on their web site so you have no idea how good (or bad) they are.
There are retouching examples at JimDoty.com. You can see several “before and after” examples of digitally retouched images on this page. You can see a before and after example of an enhanced photo retouch of an agency represented model along with a video of the complete retouching process. Like time lapse photography, the video has been time compressed so the whole 90 minute retouch is viewed in only 6 minutes time. In the video you can see the blemishes being removed, the lips retouched and color enhanced, eyebags softened, eyes brightened, eyelashes added, wrinkles removed, pores softened, and skin texture smoothed.
Event/Sports Photography and Tonality Adjustments
A tonality adjustment is the first step in retouching an image and the only step that is usually needed for a set of event and sports photos. No digital camera does a perfect job of reproducing accurate tonalities and colors in all lighting conditions and situations. Digitally optimizing images corrects for some of these camera weaknesses. I go through every event photo and do whatever tonality adjustments are necessary. Beyond that, event photos usually don’t require the other retouching steps that are typical of most portrait photography. I usually spend 3-4 minutes for event photo doing tonality adjustments.
One of the most important reasons for doing a tonality adjustment is to get the best possible color. One of the secrets to great color is the way the camera menus are set up. Most digital cameras will allow you to pick from a variety of picture styles (bland, normal, dripping with color) and to set a variety of parameters like contrast, color saturation, and sharpening. Jazzing up the contrast, color saturation, and sharpening in the camera can severely limit how much you can work with your photos after the fact in the computer. The changes are already “baked in” and can’t be undone. If you go to correct an image that has been over-juiced in the camera, you end up with all kinds of ugly digital gremlins like banding, posterization, and the jaggies.
So the secret is to set the camera to “bland”. That is how the images look when they come out of the camera. The color looks a bit muted and the contrast is low. No extra sharpening is applied. That gives the maximum potential for working with the images after the fact, and creating the best possible color.
I shoot RAW plus JPEG files and process the RAW files with Adobe Camera Raw to do the tonality adjustments. It takes more time to adjust the color after the fact rather than in the camera, but the difference in color quality is worth it. A photographer that burns all the photos to a disc at the end of a shoot is not providing the best quality images. It saves the photographer a lot of time and the client gets inferior images.