BEAUTY PORTRAIT + Retouching
Something I have been anxious to get in my portfolio is a high-end beauty portrait. When I searched other photographers portfolios for their beauty portraits, they all had a simple quality to them, unlike editorial or commercial shoots. How hard could this be, I thought to myself. So I set out to make my own using my home studio.
Many photographers I've spoken to think they need to spend a fortune on studio time and fancy equipment to make a quality photo. Not the case at all, as you will se below.
- Backdrop stand (purchased from Amazon for under $30)
- Dark Gray bed sheet (purchased from Ross for $15)
- Black Stool (Purchased from Salvation Army for $5
- Model (Found her on ModelMayhem.com...for free)
- Canon 5D MkII (already own)
- Canon 100mm macro lens (rented from Borrowlenses.com)
- Alien Bees B800
- Pocket Wizards
- 5-1 Reflector
- Tethered Cable
- MacBook Pro
I'll be the first to tell you that there is nothing special about this studio of mine, in fact I purposefully took this photo to show how little you need to get started. The gear is not sophisticated or expensive in anyway, but I stand by the work I am able to produce with it.
BEAUTY PORTRAIT WORKFLOW
I won't go into much detail in this blog post about my technique used to shoot this portrait session, but I will give you a glimpse into my workflow.
I shoot tethered to my Macbook Pro for a few reasons, but mainly to make it easy for the client or just the model in this case to be able to review the photos and express her favorites. Immediately after shooting we go through, and I star all the photos that she and I both liked the most. It is a process I like to do together with the client/model so as to be on the same page, and set the expectation for what photos will be delivered and why.
Also, the lcd screen on the back of a camera is not large enough to really notice focus issues, hair fly-aways or other minor/major imperfections that should be fixed in camera. Trust me when I say you will save so much time in post-processing if you are able to clearly see these in-camera issues in full screen before the model leaves. It is much better to get it right in camera, rather to rely on Photoshop to fix your mistakes.
For me, culling (the act of choosing the best examples from a larger sample size of photos) can be one of the hardest things to do. I don't like to "overshoot", but sometimes when you and your model are in the zone, and making great photos, it can be hard to stop. So I might end up with 50+ "good frames", and I need only 5 great ones from within. That is why it is helpful to star your favorites with the model as you go, and just let the rest go.
There are many ways to process RAW files. Lightroom is a popular option, but you can do the same things within Adobe Camera RAW (ACR), and Capture One is a fancy option used by a lot of high-end photographers/retouchers. Capture One is said to interpret skin tones in a more pleasing value than in Lightroom, but for most (including myself), Lightroom is easier to use.
You really can do about 90% of major edits within a RAW Processor if you wanted to, but for high-end/paid gigs you would reserve a lot of the editing for Photoshop.
Basic RAW processing consists of White Balance, Exposure, Lens Profile Corrections, and maybe Saturation levels. You pretty much just want to get a solid base to work with in Photoshop.
EDITING IN PHOTOSHOP
This is where all the proverbial magic happens. In Photoshop, there are at least 10 ways to do the same function; which is cool, but then it leads to endless video tutorials claiming the "best" way to retouch a photo. I think the "best" way to edit a photo is whatever saves you time and makes your client happy, so it will change depending on assignment. I will spare you the details of what I did on this photo; spent at least a total of 1.5 hours on this one photo. I could have spent 15 minutes on this photo, and majority of you would not have known the difference. But for magazine editors and others of that ilk, would have found all of the cut corners.
There is no "one-size fits all" approach to exporting images. It all depends on where the image will eventually end up. There are specific settings depending on whether or not this photo will be printed, posted on Facebook, Instagram, or maybe even used as a hero image on a website.
You'll notice a plugin I'm using in Lightroom called "JPEGmini"; it is a great piece of software that allows you to drastically reduce file size, without compromising on picture quality.
For my clients, I use an app called PASS to share online galleries, and printing options. If your gallery is only 100 photos or less, it is free for 10 years, otherwise you just pay $29 to keep your online gallery available.
PASS has a simple UI and a very convenient and free mobile app.
At the end of the day, it doesn't matter to me what studio space or gear or software I have available to me; I love what I do and I am determined to make a great photo and connect with the model every time I shoot.
If you would like to hire me for a shoot, please contact me at CK@CharlieKaine.com or fill out my contact form here.
*All photos shown are under the copyright of Charlie Kaine Photography