Monday, March 30, 2015

Personal Branding Portrait Before and After Retouch

Laurie Before and After Retouch and Compositing

This pair of files is from a Lifestyle/Personal Branding shoot of an independent business owner who works occasionally from a home office. We spent about half a day in total, choosing several different spots in her home/work environment to set up in, and shooting in various outfits, and poses. This particular shot was actually one of the very last and was, in a way, sort of a happy accident, as we had started, and concentrated on shooting from a different angle entirely (for which the set was lit and arranged specifically). I basically grabbed this shot without warning, and it worked, mostly. We captured a spontaneous, energetic, authentically happy, expression, and the lighting, although not exactly what I would have wanted, still worked pretty well from this perspective. But, the resulting shot, which Laurie really liked, lacked compositional balance. Basically the large blank white window area to Laurie's right really compromised the success of the overall image. So it needed to be fixed.

I did not actually love the heavy green curtains as a backdrop, but there was nothing to see through the window as it was mid-winter, the sky was cloudy, the trees had no leaves and the landscape was snow-covered. So first, I decided to add some texture to the curtains. It's a subtle adjustment but made the curtains look a bit less heavy and solid. Then, I took some curtain from the part of the frame that I'd cropped out, and composited it into a new position behind Laurie's right shoulder. I also needed a bit more image area above Laurie's head (than I had shot), so added that in digitally, and added back in some area at Laurie's right elbow which I had cropped out originally, but needed back now as the new curtain area changed the balance.

The image on the right has also been subjected to fairly standard portrait (for me) retouching. It's a bit hard to see here for two reasons: 1) these pictures are pretty small, 2) this flat-ish lighting tends to obscure details, rather than emphasize them. I actually prefer less beauty-ish lighting as I like to see a bit more depth in a portrait. But Laurie does look really pretty! The one retouch I can point out that is clearly visible at this size is the little bulge of flesh above L's right wrist (see above the bracelet in left photo). That's a distraction, and needed to go. 

Bottom line: an almost successful shot that was captured sort of unexpectedly was made successful with a bit of extra work and post-production attention to detail.

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