Many of you are in videography, and many more of you are great editors. This youtuber did such a great job editing scenes from the Dark Knight that you must see this. It’s not like the typical nonsense you see.
Give me just 7 minutes of your time, and you’ll never look at the movie in the same way again.
Check out some of our recent work with my friend and colleague, Lara Jade, for The Observer Magazine (Fashion Week special (2012)). For all our friends across the pond in the UK, you may have seen this already.
Everything about the styling, photography, and modeling had great chemistry. Even the small details like the hair styling, with loosely tied up hair, matched the feel of the whole shoot.
Combining motion, CG, and beautiful editing, this is a behind the scenes in motion showcasing how much effort was put into something like this.
No wonder it takes entire teams to create beautiful visuals like these, with the level of detail and skill it takes for every aspect, if any one element fails, it can be disastrous to the whole effort.
It’s beautiful to see, especially because it produces the behind the scenes view as it progresses.
These are Free lightroom presets made by me. These presets are meant for RAW files only.
These are all Lightroom presets I have made in the past for specific projects and editorial work. The download link is below, but please read everything before using them.
What does this mean?
These are both presets for color and black and white renderings.
These presets worked for the SPECIFIC image or a set that they were meant for. It does NOT mean they will look great for your files. Because each preset will look completely different if used on one image to another, that is just how it is.
I personally do all my color work in Photoshop via curves/selective color/color balance and so forth, but have used these in the past on RAW files.
I have included many presets, which should be used as rough starting points, and they should be treated as such.
Each preset should serve as a base. Meaning each of them have a (mostly) different look and should be tweaked based on each individual file.
After applied, you will need to adjust the lighting and color on your own files to get them to where you want.
You will discover that with each preset, they will mostly be drastic because they were meant to serve as a base for aggressive editorial color work.
Because everyone has a different color preference you will need to adjust based on what you find appropriate.
As stated above, I also find that when I like a certain preset, if I apply it to an image from another shoot, it may look awful. So these will all be relative to you. This is because color application is based on the photography. So if you go from a high contrast studio shot to an ambient outdoor shot, each preset will look different.
In short, run wild, and use these as a base and adjust according to your shot. These are not the end all. I personally do all my color work in Photoshop as I have more control.
Why Am I Giving Them Away for Free?
Aside from wanting to share with the community, I do most of my color work in Photoshop after the retouching to maintain a non-destructive workflow. It allows me to be quite elaborate with color work with masks, curves, selective color, color balance, channels and so forth.
Lightroom presets are global color adjustments and only use them for when a client wants specific color work applied to raw files on their own shots. And I also realize no two shots will look alike even though the presets are given out. So I figured it would be nice to let you play with mine!
Surprisingly, it turns out that Chris has only been shooting for 2 years! I immediately recognized his potential and asked if I could do a feature on him; he was more than delighted to partake. I want more people to see his work and to have him become more recognized.
What I really enjoy about his work is that it’s ethereal. It’s full of emotion yet subdued at the same time. It plays that delicate balance of purity and edginess. It has a whimsical feel yet it’s delicate. In short, it’s simply beautiful and I have an affinity to his work.
If I’m right, he’s going to be big in a few years so keep an eye out for Chris’s work in the upcoming months and years.
Check out his work below along with a short interview.
1. Tell us your history with photography and what got you into it.
I bought a camera at 19 so I could take a few photos of my first car. Soon, my mates were asking me to take some photos of there cars too. Then at 20, I was approached by a few motoring publications to shoot for them. It was good pocket money while I was studying at the university but my heart was never really in it.
The subject matter just didn’t inspire me. By the time I graduated from the university I was itching to shoot something more than sheet metal and decided to take on the world of fashion photography. What could possibly be more interesting and inspiring than taking a photo of a person?
2. What inspires you to stay passionate about your craft?
It’s not so much about inspiration as it is compulsion. I’m fascinated by the process of bringing a vision into reality. There are so many elements that go into a fashion shoot, such at the model, lighting, environment, clothing, hair, makeup, pose and expression, lens selection, composition, perspective, and the list goes on. There is nothing more satisfying or exciting than seeing each one of those elements coming into alignment and seeing a vision transform into reality in front of you.
3. Why do you shoot fashion and beauty specifically?
Fashion and beauty are very subjective and elusive terms and that’s what makes exploring them so rewarding; the creative possibilities are limitless. It’s that freedom of self expression and the process of creating and capturing art, there’s nothing else quite like it.
Photographer, Zack Arias, talks about editing and updating your portfolio. A fantastic article for any photographer.
I’m currently in the process of updating and printing a new portfolio and I thought I would take a moment half day to talk about the process.
My dear friend, Marc, has said of editing, “It’s like lining up your children and deciding which ones you’re going to shoot.” That quote isn’t going to end up on the front of a greeting card anytime soon but it does get to the heart of the matter. Andy Lee rephrased it to, “…deciding which ones you love more.” Either way, the process can suck but it is a process you need to go through on a regular basis. At least twice a year. Minimum.
I know many of you are wondering why I’m working on a print portfolio. What about web sites, PDFs, iPhones, thumb drives, laptops, etc, etc? Are printed portfolios still relevant? In my opinion they are. That opinion also is held by many in the editorial and advertising world. I know of two leading Ad agencies that won’t meet with you if you walk in with only an electronic portfolio. They want to see your book. The printed output of your work. Anything can look good on an iPad. Can it print? Can it run larger? The devil, and the jobs, are in the details. Wedding photographers know this all too well. Do you want to deliver a disk of zeros and ones or would you rather deliver a beautifully printed album? What is going to live in plain sight? A thumb drive or a book? Which one will be cherished? Which one has lasting value? Which one makes you more excited to deliver? Which one is instant? The book. That’s which one.
An image I shot tonight of my brother’s friend’s AE-1. What’s amazing, is that this camera has a story. It has been passed along through 3 generations. This camera is still actively in use today and is in fantastic condition.
It’s great to see that it’s not only equipment that is passed on from one generation to another, but also the passion of shooting.
First off, thanks so much for having me on Solstice Retouch! I’ve been an admirer of your work for some time. I’m very humbled that you’ve chosen to ask me about my story.
My name is Theo Civitello, and I am a 25 year old photographer and graphic designer born and raised in Houston, Texas. I’ve lived all over the city, primarily in neighborhoods like the Heights, Rice Military and Montrose. Growing up, I must have acquired a sense of design from my parents, my dad being an architect and my mom feverishly revamping and remodeling each successive house to be more aesthetically pleasing. In addition, my stepmother, a successful children’s book writer and illustrator, was always adding a creative twist to the mix when I was growing up. You would think that with all this influence that I would be creatively charged right off the bat, but in fact I was quite the opposite. I was largely uninterested in drawing, painting and other creative outlets with the exception of writing, which I did frequently.
Photography wasn’t a large part of my life until much later on. In the summer of 2003 my dad, stepmother and sister booked a trip to Paris to explore the city for 2 weeks. Having never before been overseas, I was excited, but not truly prepared for the culture shock that I would experience while there. Upon arriving, I was totally blown away by the utter night and day difference when compared to Houston. Houston simply paled in comparison to Paris, a city steeped in history, tradition and art. Suddenly immersed in this amazing place, I searched for a way to document what I was seeing so that I could hold on to this feeling in the future. Not having a camera of any kind, I resorted to borrowing my dad’s 20-something year old Olympus OM-1 that he’d brought along for the trip. With only one 35mm manual focus lens, manual metering and a few rolls of black and white film, I was forced to take a crash course in the basics of photography from my dad while sitting under the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. While the photos I took were nothing to write home about, in those two weeks in Paris my love for photography was born and began to grow exponentially. (Sidenote: You can see those photos here, if you’d like).
After graduating from high school in 2004, I moved to Nacogdoches, Texas to attend Stephen F Austin State University. Having no clue as to what I wanted to major in upon arriving, I declared that I was an undecided major and started taking core classes to hopefully gain some sort of guidance. During my sophomore year, I enrolled in an advertising and marketing program which I immediately became drawn to. I eventually changed my major to advertising with a minor in graphic design. During this time, I still had an unshakable itch for photography that seemingly haunted me. I owned a 1996 Acura Integra at the time, and always found myself snapping terrible photos of it with my cell phone’s camera. Having a little money saved up, I decided that it was time to buy a camera of my own. In April of 2006 I bought a brand new Nikon D50 SLR kit and began to take shots of my car, trying (and failing) to mimic the photos I’d seen in magazines like Car & Driver, Automobile and Motor Trend (Sidenote: You can see some weak attempts here). I was amazed at the way these photographers could portray these vehicles, like shiny jewels against epic landscapes – and sorely jealous that my lowly D50 and I were not up to par. I soaked up all the technical information I could from photo magazines, forums and online tutorials, slowly gathering a better appreciation for composition, lighting and other important aspects. While in school, two more trips to Europe in both 2006 and 2007 further solidified my love for photography and travel.
Photography was still more of a hobby to me, and I remained focused on the goal of working in media marketing after school. I interned at a large media marketing company in Los Angeles in the summer of 2008 and graduated from SFA in December of 2008. I moved back to Houston to begin the job search, which lasted a little over a year until I obtained a sales position at a large local company. In the time between graduating and working with that company, the stress of “real life” resulted in the camera generally sitting unused and collecting dust in its bag. Probably because of that, I began to feel stagnant in my current position, unhappy with spending all my waking hours in a gray cube on the phone with customers. Noticing this, my girlfriend Ashleigh urged me to take the camera out again and begin shooting. Insisting that it would be possible for me to take paying gigs and actually turn a profit using my photos, she urged me to think about quitting my job and working freelance. I initially dismissed this idea in favor of a bimonthly paycheck, but it remained in the back of my head, growing all the time. I had been taking small paying gigs as the months went on and was making more money on the side, which began to make me a little more comfortable with the idea of venturing off on my own. Finally in May of 2011, Ashleigh’s gentle coaxing paid off and I officially quit my day job to pursue photography and design full time.
Admittedly I was extremely anxious in the beginning, having stepped out into the vast unknown with no net. The gear I’d amassed, which I still use, was a Nikon D700, a Nikkor 80-200mm f2.8, Nikkor 105mm f2.8, Nikkor 85mm f1.8, Nikkor 50mm 1.8, a SB 600, a SB 900 and various wireless triggers, softboxes and other equipment. Primarily an automotive photographer up until this point, I began to second shoot at weddings and stand in on portrait shoots in order to learn from professional photographers. I was amazed at some of the portrait and wedding photographers that I saw on Flickr and other photo sharing websites, and wanted to try my hand at it. To this day, it has been one of the most eye opening experiences dealing with photography, where I was able to absorb great information from seasoned professionals while working on the job. I took this knowledge gained from second shooting and began to branch out on my own. With continued effort and determination I was able to start booking gigs for both automotive and wedding photography. I am most proud of a private collection of amazing vehicles I shot for the auction house Bonhams & Butterfields, which received interest from a few news outlets.
Thus far, it has been an extremely tough yet extremely rewarding experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I now realize that my biggest mistake in the past was not taking my talents seriously. I saw photography as nothing more than a hobby and ignored any potential that it held for far too long. If I could now give advice to someone in a similar position that I was in, I would tell them to trust themselves and their talent. If they believe deep inside that they are capable of doing what they love full time, push aside the fear and go for it. Is it hard? Yes. Is it scary? Yes. Will it fail? Maybe. But you won’t get another chance, so take the opportunity once it presents itself. Don’t let it become something you wish you’d always done. I have my girlfriend to thank for the constant motivation that slowly made me believe that I could do this. If there’s someone in your life doing the same, listen to them – it just may pay off.
Today, I am trying to diversify my portfolio and continue to improve in all aspects. I always believe that once you feel you don’t need to improve further, your work becomes stagnant. The photographers I look up to are always moving, always innovating, and I strive to do the same.
Thanks very much for checking out my story, and please feel free to ask any questions you’d like, I’d be happy to answer them!
I recently saw your portfolio and think your work is fantastic. I wanted to know if you have any availability coming up. If so, I have a set of 8 files that I will need a quote for and would like to potentially work with you.
They are going to be published in (entermagazinenamehere). I would like the files in 1 week if possible, as the deadline for submission is is about a week and a half out. I can either provide you a link to download the images, or if you have server space or a dropbox, I can upload them to you. Based on your hourly rate, I’d like to know what the quote would be. Also, I will be providing you with a few items to make it easier for you. These items include:
1) A list of details on what we would like done for each shot aside from skin work. I can provide these notes written, or marked up on a separate copy of the images.
2) A few references based on the color treatment I would like for the overall files.
3) A couple of before/after images of my own work for you to see in regards to the level of detail I like. That way there is no confusion.
Finally, I prefer my files returned to me in 8 bit, AdobeRGB(1998), flattened PSD please.
I look forward to your reply and I hope to continue working with you in the future should this work out well for us.
As you saw by the example, communication is imperative. I would immediately reach through the screen, buy him a drink, and explore the possibilities of getting him knighted, while high fiveing him and his future unborn son. This is a dream response, and my clients that I have today, understand these things.
You think this sounds elaborate, I’m guessing, but believe it or not this was an actual initial e-mail from a client of mine today! (sans the name, and silly details).
In general, most of the professionals I work with deliver on getting me the right information, and it really makes things much easier, not to mention a much lower rate! We spend half as much time working with someone who knows what they are talking about and knows what they want.
I would say that this is an epitome of a perfect first inquiry. However, even asking for a rate and showcasing the files you need as well as specific details on the job will be more than good enough.
And once the first job is done, we get a sense of what the photographer wants. And often, even details aren’t needed as we understand the photographer’s demands unless it’s something very specific. So it becomes fast, efficient, and very cheap for something high in quality. That trickle down effect through the rest of the client relationship because of one initial e-mail is powerful.
These days, the amount of competent professional retouchers vs the amount of working photographers who are looking for retouchers are not balanced. There are not enough of us. What that means is that we are usually in high demand. If there is a retoucher you want to work with, chances are there at least 100 other photographers who are feeling the same way and act on it. So, the initial approach is very important.
Limitation of Retouching
If you’re respectful to us, we will love you. If I feel like I am about to be undervalued based on lack of appreciation you have for retouching, then that’s a different story.
One thing to keep in mind with retouching, is that even though most retouchers are fantastic, there is a limitation to retouching, for God’s sakes (talk about putting it lightly).
Before contacting a retoucher, I implore you to understand how far you can go with retouching. We’re here primarily to work with you to perfect your images, not rescue them from the mouth of Satan.
Yo, how’s it going? I have these 5 shots I am attaching. Also, the last shot is a Dior shot that we referenced for the shoot. Can you make my shots look like there’s? As you can see, mine came out similar, it just needs a bit of retouching magic to really set it off! Like, mostly color work and some dodge and burn. I have a budget of $10 a file, I don’t think it takes that long so I need them all tomorrow if possible. THX.
Usually, when the entire team is off including the hair, makeup, lighting, clothing, and photography, don’t put it all on the retoucher to fix, there is a limit to retouching, and you have to understand that even we believe that it’s imperative to get it right in the camera as close as you can so we can build off a beautiful image and make it truly fantastic. Digital doesn’t give you an excuse to suck at photography. That is why so many film photographers who have transitioned into digital produce such fantastic imagery even without retouching.
And of course, we do understand fixing issues with makeup, hair, and such, that’s our job. But do not expect us to be there in replacement of an entire team! The cost you try and save up front, will then be paid in post production without a similar result. (Read that article here: Link)
Having great communication goes a long way, and also understanding the limitations of what digital can do. When I work with someone who gets it, I give them a steep discount because it’s a blessing working with great photographers who know what they want, and know what can be expected.
Other Bad Scenarios
I could end this here, but for the sake of humor, I asked a few of my colleagues to send some scenarios in which they felt occurred from time to time that killed their relationship, and here is what they said. I left them as anonymous, as requested.
Scenario: I will be asked a set of questions, in general. I will then write up a response in detail. As a follow up down the line, I get asked the same questions again because there was no time taken to read the entire response showing a lack of concern or attention. So like a BF who doesn’t ever listen to me, I ended it.
Scenario: Getting one line inquiries, like, “Hey, wut your rate??” Clearly, it’s not going to work out. Next.
Scenario: I ask a set of questions for clarification on my end, and in response I get something that doesn’t only ignore the question, but goes on another tangent all together, multiple times over and over again. Take some Adderall, will you, Ms. A.D.D.?
Scenario: Expressing a certain level of expectation of what is possible and what is isn’t (very clearly), only to have them come back later and demand that something has to be done when it was clearly defined that it cannot be done.
Scenario: I clearly tell them what my rate is, only to be asked if the job can be done 50% less than quoted. How about no? Oh, right, and I will let everyone know as well of how cheap you are. Don’t waste my time.
Scenario: I love it when I quote on a job and everything sounds fine. Then after everything is completed (or so I think!) they start throwing things in there that wasn’t agreed upon initially, like color work, and manipulation. Lol! Always be sure and add a clause for modifications in your quote!
Scenario: This is a kicker, sometimes they ask me for the most ridiculous things. “Please remove the wall.” And I want to reply with, and replace it with what? Do you know how Photoshop works? It would be nice to ask for things that actually make sense. Then I realized half my time was spent explaining that it wasn’t possible. And their reply, “You must not be a good retoucher then!”
We really take notice of great communication and appreciation, and although most of this was primarily out of humor, I hope the takeaway is a reflection on mostly what not to do when contacting a retoucher for the first time, and down the line in a client relationship in general. A healthy client relationship is very important.
Sometimes these things occur on accident, so this can serve as what you can do to better your chances on maintaining great ties, and possibly fantastic rates!
If you’re difficult, chances are you’ll be searching for a while. If you’re great at communicating, we love you.
What I love about Charlie’s work is that he has a unique vision and take to beauty. He really takes beauty to a whole other dimension as you can see from our example.
Even though I cannot post the before, I’ll just say that you’d be stunned to see the comparison!
Our relationship with me as the retoucher is great, we combine both of our strengths to a final piece. I focus on the standard retouching in regards to perfecting hair, skin, and makeup, and lighting. Texture is critical, that should never be touched! He then adds his fantastic flare with color grading and tonal effects.
What I love about his touch is the fantastic creamy bokeh mist like effect coming from the bottom left corner which was applied in post, on top of the color grading work.
A question I get most often, which often my reply would want to be, “I don’t know, did you shoot it like him?”
The effect of a certain feel comes not only from post production, but primarily from shooting correctly to reflect the final effect when post production is applied.
Here’s a great behind the scenes look revealing some of the secrets in Paolo’s workflow on set. This is all in thanks to the person who I found this from, who would like to remain anonymous, but didn’t mind me sharing it. So, thank you, you know who you are!
Take a good look at this frame grab from the video. You can see the light source, very apparent, and you can also see the method in which he captures the moment through the reflection of the mirror. But most importantly, take a look at the tethered output from the previous frame, do you see it being indicative of his style, even before the retouching was done? The white balance for mood is pre-set.
Now, taking a look at some of the end results:
You can clearly deduct what was done from the capture to the post production. Once everything is set, the primarily emphasis now comes down to the fundamentals of clean retouching, from focus on the skin to shaping the light and detail.
This is why it’s important to emphasize getting it right IN the camera as much as possible if you want to come close to someone’s effect. Don’t be lazy and try to attempt it all in post, it will fail. You can’t put sprinkles on poop and try to pass it for a cupcake.
The devil is in the details, from the elaborate outfits, makeup, to the elegant flow of the model’s pose. You have to cast and prepare for everything. A particular effect starts before the post production begins, it’s not an afterthought.
This video showcases and takes you on set to one of the most sought after photographers, Roversi himself.
It is also a great point showcasing how getting it right in the camera, is a claim not just expressed by photographers, but also shared by retouchers.
Either way, I hope you enjoyed taking a look through Roversi’s eye and being on set with him, there’s something to take away by everyone, no matter what you do within the industry.
This is an interview I place high importance in, for all retouchers and photographers to see. Be sure you take the time out to sit down and watch this. The first few seconds are not in English, but it will commence thereafter.
She really does share the same sentiments many of us believe in, including myself. If you remember reading my previous article, making it as a professional retoucher, you will see the statements (and more) ring true.
I remember Natalia a few years ago when we met, during the discovery phase of retouching, things were simpler. She had already been in the business for a couple of years when I began. With her words, “Why aren’t u a full time retoucher? Your work is great,” she changed my thinking about making retouching a full time affair, which it now is.
I knew she was going to be big, because not only did she showcase amazing potential early on, but because she was very personable, honest, and very down to Earth. We immediately got along great and became good friends. She always takes the time to help someone that is need of it. No matter how big she gets in the future, she will always stay humble to high praise and warm regards.
I remember when she asked me to do the official pre-release review on her high end retouching dvd (posted on the bottom of the link - which I also recommend you go buy asap!), she was so moved by everything I wrote about her, even though it was purely honest, that it made me so glad to see her get everything she sought after due to her appreciation of everything that was happening to her. Which is why I also sing high praises about her, not because of the work everyone knows of, but for the Natalia I know as a person.
Even now, when people ask her questions, she gives a helping hand with the utmost sincerity. She also stays active in the community helping others. It’s also apparent through her statement on sticking together in this industry, and she practices what she preaches.
Another point I really liked is her mentioning how she says yes, before saying no, in reference to requests clients give. Learning on the fly, with the pressure of deadlines coming up is the best way to learn and adapt.
I have to do the same, and sometimes it puts you in a bind, but being optimistic that you will be able to fix something, and then creating a solution out of nothing at times makes you extremely viable. The other plus side is you come out with new techniques through experimentation. It also gives you that competitive edge. Learning through pressure is key.
And not to mention, she pronounces ‘compo-sites’ in a very cute way – haha, sorry Natalia, I had to throw that in there. We love you.
So be sure to check out the interview, her words are invaluable!