People always like to blame retouching alone for the fallacy that is perfection. The reality is that it has more to do with makeup, lighting, hair, and wardrobe than it does with a final polish at the end (retouching).
These images of coveted Victoria’s Secret models shows how the ‘after’ is far from the before.
My point here is that these girls are beautiful without any of that, and everyone deserves to feel the same. So don’t hold the images you see in public as a realistic expectations, because underneath it all, they often look much different than you are thinking and closer to me and you.
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I can’t begin to express the epicosity (common Websters, let’s get that in the dictionary) of what I am about to show you.
Meet Eric Schwabel, wait, in fact don’t meet him just yet. Do you know what Burning Man is?
First of all, before you proceed any further, please familiarize yourself to the event that is, Burning Man.
Skip through it, just let it sink in.
The grounds this year.
But what is it?
Once a year, tens of thousands of people gather in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert (also known as “the playa”) to create Black Rock City, a temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. They depart one week later, having left no trace whatsoever.
Even considering going to Burning Man for the first time can be daunting. And while it’s true that Burning Man is not for the faint of heart, with some research, preparation, and planning, an experience — and opportunity — beyond your wildest dreams awaits you. In Black Rock City, you’re guaranteed not to be the weirdest kid in the classroom. And you’ll become a part of the growing community of Burners who are active year-round, around the world … ensuring that the fire of Burning Man culture never goes out.
Basically, it’s an event that is a physical adaptation of your strangest dream. It’s all things art, and everything that is unreal. It can’t be explained in words other than seeing it. It is also an area without monetary transactions, only in the form of gift giving (this alone, is mind boggling).
He created a one man portable studio to take through the desert.
"When acclaimed studio photographer Eric Schwabel goes to Burning Man he doesn’t leave his passion behind. In 2010 he took a clever hand built “light suit” to the massive festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert and captured the plethora of beautiful, colorful revelers in engaging detail. Below we catch up with Schwabel for an exclusive interview about his experiences on the dusty playa."- Source: Visual News
Check out his work and journey in the video, it tells his whole story.
Good friend of mine, Benjamin Von Wong sent this in. Check out some of his fantastic work at http://www.vonwong.com/!
On his travels, he found a huge ‘mistake’ from this Lacoste advertisement, to put it lightly.
I couldn’t help but sharing this because for the past 15 minutes, I’ve been staring the shadow, almost like I’m taking a rorschach test.
Here’s a rorschach test for those who aren’t familiar.
In the beginning, I realized something was off, then it immediately became apparent to me that it was pretty major. At first, I mentally began analyzing the angle of the light and what shadow pattern should be cast. I would think of the anatomy pattern of it all and realized it made no sense! The flyaway shadow was a misleading effect, almost as though she has a massive shoulder tumor.
If you look really close, it almost looks like a lizard sticking out it’s tounge or a T-Rex.
Now I can’t get it out of my head, the shadow looks like a Muppet baby.
At least I know one thing, Lacoste did their job of making the image stick in people’s heads! Perhaps that was their entire subliminal mission.
In short, Benjamin said it best, “8 feet of epic fail.”
Have content you would like to see here? Send it in at firstname.lastname@example.org
Nobody likes to be blamed for something they didn’t do. Don’t use the photographer as a scapegoat. If you screwed up, then you should take the blame. And blaming the assistant in front of the client or subject or other people for something he/she didn’t do is in especially poor taste.
"This has only happened once, but almost made me walk off set. I showed up early to the photographer’s studio where he was frantically getting ready for the shoot. We finished packing gear and headed out, getting there about 20 minutes late. First thing the photographer says to his client is "Sorry we’re late, my assistant didn’t get ready in time"." - Rob Weber
8) Don’t recommend a good assistant Everyone knows that photographers talk to other photographers. If you’ve got a great assistant, consider referring them to other photographers. Don’t trying to keep them all to yourself. If you want them to stay in business as an assistant, then you might want to help them grow their business, find more clients, and make more money.
"If you had an outstanding experience working with me, please tell folks." - Dominick Reuter
7) Don’t act as a teacher or mentor Everyone likes to learn things, even photographers. You should realize that the assistant is looking to learn about the business, and sees you as a teacher or mentor. Don’t be stingy with the information - it’s OK to share. If anything, it will help them to understand better business practices, so they don’t end up unintentionally undercutting you later on, when they’re no longer an assistant.
"I know things get high paced and stressful on the job. But as your assistant, I really am here to learn from you. So please, take a moment and give me some pearls that might help guide me to being a better photographer or businessman." - Jamey Price
6) Keeping them in the dark about your gear If you’re expecting an assistant to work smoothly with your gear, then take a moment to provide some disclosure on the particulars of your equipment. If at all possible, let them know what they’ll be working with ahead of time so they can do some homework if necessary.
"Warn me about idiosyncrasies about your equipment. You might know that particular port on your light kit acts up sometimes, but I don’t. Please save me the lost time and let me know in advance that something is a little off, and I’ll figure out a workaround. If it is a very strange or new piece of equipment, please allow for a little extra time for me to get it figured out. Better yet, when we talk before the job, let me know what gear you’re working with: Canon/Nikon, Profoto/Dynalite, etc. If there is a critical piece of equipment, let me know in advance so I can download the manual if I don’t already know the hardware." - Dominick Reuter
5) Having ulterior motives Don’t have a secret agenda - make sure you’re honest with the assistant, and what you expect from them. Chances are that the assistant will eventually figure out your agenda in the end, and you stand a very good chance of scaring them off for future assignments.
"I once worked for a wedding photographer who carried nothing more than a D80 and a kit lens for wedding gear. He had me working my tail off running around shooting the most poorly-lit stuff with my D700 and prime lens. He totally used me for my body." - Jamey Price
4) Being cheap and stingy Photographers don’t like working for cheap and stingy clients - so they shouldn’t treat assistants that way either. Asking them to work “for the experience,” or for very low pay, or by asking them to be a second shooter at the last minute for no additional compensation isn’t cool.
"Assisting has to be treated like a business, mainly because it is. Just like you don’t want to work "for credit", I don’t want to work "because it will be fun". I can’t eat fun at the end of the night." - Rob Weber
"You know you’re a cheapskate when you pay us almost nothing for 10 hours work, and can’t find the 5 dollars on your credit card to buy a coffee for your hard working assistant."- Jamey Price
"I don’t like it when the photographer wants to do a trial run (meaning you work for free or way less than reasonable) to see if you are a good match. A photographer wanted to pay me $50 for a travel job because it was my first timing assisting for him. Can you imagine how he would have felt if he was asked by a first time client to travel somewhere and do a shoot, but would only get 20% of what he normally charges just to see if it was a good fit? Needless to say, I did not take the job." - Darcy Rogers
"If you just want a day-laborer, then get one. If you want someone with the technical and aesthetic experience that can help your shoot go more smoothly, then budget for that. I happen to be in a middle area where sometimes I am assisting and other times I am hiring assistants, and I do not like being hired to work for less than what I pay people for the same job. I’ll finish the assignment this time, but don’t be surprised if I am "busy" next time you have a shoot. Also, experience I get from you is not a substitute for money." - Dominick Reuter
"While I appreciate the ego boost in you liking the way I shoot, handing me a camera during a wedding and asking ‘for a few candids’ not only keeps me from doing the job you hired me for, but is something you should pay more for as well." - Anonymous
"Nothing is worse than working twelve or more hours and not getting hooked up with lunch and coffee. I don’t want a roasted pheasant on china, but peanut butter sandwiches and ‘no time for coffee’ is crap." - Anonymous
3) Being disorganized An assistant is there to help things run smoothly, but that can only happen if the photographer is organized, and has a plan. If you’re flying by the seat of your pants, without a plan, “winging it,” then you might end up pissing off your assistant. Have a plan - and communicate it to your assistant.
"I worked with a photographer who was extremely organized with equipment; everything was labeled and he was insistent about putting things back exactly where they belonged. It really taught me how critical it is to be organized with gear. The shoot runs smoother and faster when you know where things are." - Darcy Rogers
"Try to let me know as much as you can about what the shoot is going to look like. Inside, outside, hot lights, etc. The more I know, the better prepared I can be to assist you. Also, don’t act confused when I ask these questions." - Rob Weber
"I like to be part of a team and team members know what the game plan is. Don’t tell me I need to set up 12’ scrims (plural) and lighting and make coffee 10 minutes before a scheduled shoot time." - Michael G. Manoukian
"Speaking of shoot time, send me a schedule, not a text message the night before with an address and a time." - Michael G. Manoukian
"I don’t like it when the photographer is completely unorganized with information. I was second shooting/assisting a wedding photographer. She sent me off to go photograph the groom getting ready. She gave me directions, but for the life of me I could not find the location. After several frustrating calls between us, she realized she had given me the wrong address. Not only did I drive around in circles for about 45 minutes, but I missed the window of time to photograph the groom."- Darcy Rogers
"Tell me what type of shoot or what sort of situation we’ll be in: I don’t want to dress and prepare for a corporate job and end up in a swamp, or the other way around." - Dominick Reuter
2) Don’t pay them, or take too long to pay them Assistants don’t want to work for free. And, just like you don’t like to for months to get paid, neither do they. Put yourself in their shoes, and pay them fast - on the spot if possible. If an assistant has to wait several months to get paid, you might end up looking for new assistants with each and every assignment.
"PAY FOR OVERTIME! You may plan a 10 hour shoot on location, but don’t include my 2 hours of gear pick up and travel time to and another 2 hours back after the shoot. I don’t work for free." - Michael G. Manoukian
"I know that your clients can be slow to pay you and that makes you mad. Likewise, it makes me mad when my client (the photographer) is slow to pay me. If you haven’t gotten paid by a client for the job I worked for you, you still need to pay me on time."
"In the same vein, the irony of a photographer complaining about slow paying clients and then taking 90 days to pay me is not lost. The whole time you are talking to me about this I’m screaming internally while nodding thoughtfully." - Rob Weber
"Paying late or not at all. No one likes to chase down their paycheck." - Darcy Rogers
"Getting paid on time is often a sore point with any member of the crew (stylist, MUA, etc.), but it’s tough when photographers fail to mention that I won’t be paid until they are… which sometimes goes months. A couple hundred dollars probably doesn’t mean much to their bottom line, but when you make your money $200 at a time, waiting 2-3 months has a big impact. Knowing that up front is just a professional courtesy." - Collin Chappelle
"If you paid parking fees, your (and my) lunch bill, etc. that day, I expect to be paid that day too. I am an expense, and my expenses are your expense, just like anything else you needed to get the shoot to go smoothly." - Dominick Reuter
"If you’re a commercial photog making $3k on a job, making an assistant wait 4 to 8 weeks for a few hundred dollars is ridiculous. You have far more capital established and you should have a few hundred dollars liquid to pay for help." - Anonymous
"Don’t take 8 months to pay me. Also, when your check bounces don’t act like it is somehow my fault. Yes, I took 2 weeks to deposit it, but I was out of the country on another job. If the check had showed up 6 months ago, when it should have, I would have deposited it promptly." - Anonymous
1) Insult them Treat an assistant how you want to be treated - with respect. Being rude, yelling at them, and blaming them for things creates an unfriendly environment. When they’ve done a great job, when they’ve saved your ass, when they’ve made you look good — say thank you.
"I’m not a dog, I’m a human. Don’t snap at me or whistle at me, it’s degrading." - Rob Weber
"I don’t like it when a photographer doesn’t introduce me to the client or subject: I have a name. I will be interacting with these people. Please let them who I am and what I will be doing." - Dominick Reuter
"We are all here to do a job. Mine is to make a photog’s life as easy as possible. There is no need for condescending remarks." - Michael G. Manoukian
"There’s nothing better than when the photographer you break your back and slave for says just a simple thank you and smiles. But there is equally nothing worse than feeling like you’re being used as simply a pair of arms with no thanks ever given. How hard is it to say thank you?" - Jamey Price
"Working as an assistant is a pretty thankless job and no one expects you to rant and rave to your client about how your assistant saved your butt by seeing something you missed, that would make you look bad and my job is to make you look good. But if there was something I did particularly well or that was extremely helpful in a pinch… its just nice to give credit where credit is due." - Collin Chappelle
"Please for the love of God, stop saying "kid, keep your day job." It didnt work on you, and it wont work on me either. We all want to be out here doing this for a living so you might as well stop trying to talk me out of it and maybe have one less photographer for you to compete with." - Jamey Price
"The more you bad-mouth your old/other assistants to me, the more I wonder if you are going to do the same thing as soon as I’m not there. Also, comparing how I do things to other assistants is fine if it’s in your head. Hearing "my old assistant would…" every two minutes just sucks and reminds the client that you haven’t worked with this photographer for very long, just tell me how you would like me to do something differently." - Rob Weber
"Sometimes things go bad on a shoot and that is a bummer for everyone involved, but when the photographer loses their cool, it makes it that much worse." - Darcy Rogers
"Don’t be a jerk to me, especially in front of the client/subject: This is actually for your own benefit. No one wants to deal with a person who they see as abusive toward their employees. Behind the scenes, I don’t need kid-glove treatment, but if your criticisms are unfounded or unfair, expect some push-back." - Dominick Reuter
College Humor decided to make a followup to the successful Photoshop Rap video. Hey, CMYKilla, it looks like your skills are wack, your kitty extraction didn’t make sense. Filling in black on the kitty when the background was gray, doesn’t make it a silhouette. Fail.
In case you haven’t seen the first one - here it is:
This weekend has been incredible, to say the least. As many of you know, Quavondo and I had our first joint workshop this weekend in Portland. If you’re just reading out about it, here was the program: (link).
A highly extensive two day workshop featuring an intensive array of lighting scenarios and then transitioning to in depth post production.
I have been doing retouching seminars and one on one teaching for over a year now (http://solsticeretouch.tumblr.com/teaching) . It has been fantastic and so was the reception as you can see from the testimonials in the link. So naturally, I decided to go bigger, I wanted to make something epic, something no one is doing. I took a mental inventory of all the things every major seminar across the nation is doing and looked at what they weren’t. I would ask their attendees about the pros and cons and asked them what they really wanted and decided to make a program with what the public really wants and cannot get as the emphasis of the workshop. I decided to go in partnership with a photographer to do an entire all-encompassing workshop, from beginning to end, without holding anything back.
Without any hesitation, good friend and established photographer, Quavondo came to mind right away. If you don’t know who he is by now, check out his work at http://www.quavondo.com/ . His resume and list of credentials is spectacular, with work ranging from celebrities to huge ad campaigns. What makes Quavondo special is not just his ability to be multifaceted in producing both conceptual and commercial work independently, but also his unique talent to teach.
When I saw this video, I knew right away that he not just a talented person, but also had the ability to demonstrate, teach, and really be clear about what he is doing. He also is not shy and can clearly communicate what he wants to showcase while keeping it fun and fascinating. He is a leader. Working with him, I also knew how great he was at making things happen in the face of adversity and his ability to market himself as well. That is something 90% of people do not have, the entire package.
With that, I knew right away that I had to present the idea to him about the 2 day workshop. He agreed and immediately we began planning over the next 2 months. Finally the weekend arrived and I went there this past Friday (August 19th) to meet him and prep for the two days ahead. We got along great and I knew it was going to turn out fantastic. We booked solid as word got around that we joined forces for a seminar.
I found out Quavondo had put a solid team together, with some of the hardest working people I have ever met in the industry, from video, to marketing, to the makeup artist and models present. Everyone put in a tremendous time. The production value is amazing. The talented Darren Utt shot a wide array of footage from day one all the way to the moment I left, with such immaculate detail and artistic interpretation. He expressed the many elements of the promo video/behind the scenes video to me and I was blown away by the dedication in his directing. It far exceeds any behind the scenes video I have seen thus far and cannot wait to show everyone when it’s done. It is informative, entertaining, and has a clear and distinct story from start to end.
The First Day
The first day commenced bright and early in the morning. All the attendees came in and we introduced ourselves and got to know each other. There were high expectations of us, but we decided to go deliver even more. We initially felt that providing 3 unique lighting setups along with demonstration and personal interaction would be sufficient as it could be used in any type of shoot. We went above and beyond and provided 7 fully customized lighting setups. I have never seen a workshop do this. We covered everything from a full fashion, beauty, and commercial shoot. We changed everything entirely. Quavondo has a fantastic ability to see light in his head and setup on the fly. Working with ad agencies and art directors that want things done fast allowed him to get setups that came to his head and moments and make it happen. After each setup, he explained what he did, what the intention was, and why it works. Once all questions were answered, we would give everyone a good 5 minutes to work with each model in that setup and adjust anything they wanted or ask questions. Being able to interact on a personal level was so rewarding. At the end of the day at 5 p.m., it felt more like a group of friends rather than a student and teacher relationship. If photographers could put together a party, this is what it would have felt like. Everything just worked, it felt organic and so casual yet educational. We knew this was going to be big.
Day One Group
After day one had finished, and everything was packed, we went home and refreshed. We knew we couldn’t just go to bed even though it was exhausting going through 7 full setups, both setup and breakdown. We stayed up to the late morning hours working on the next day and editing shots from that day, getting as much as we could do. It was the first time retouching Quavondo’s shots while I was there in the room with him. It was great being able to go through the same dynamic I would online, in person. I would finish retouching everything and I would send it to him to finish his flawless finishing touches which is what produces our final piece of work.
It was my turn, day two started bright and early with most everyone arriving before 9 a.m. with anticipation. With everything setup, we started in the conference room. It felt so natural to be there, after the first day of getting to know everyone. I could not have a better set of people to show up. Everyone was so unique and incredibly talented. They felt so intrigued to learn, and so mentally invested about what was to transpire. We had people who just started using adjustment layers and layer masks to people who have been using Photoshop for years. The common bond was the fascination of learning and sharing. The program is designed with everyone in mind while still delivering brand new ground breaking information without being complex in delivery. This allows for everyone to walk away with completely new information that is both easy to understand and applicable right away.
I could see everyone’s faces, fixed on the projection. I would gaze now and then across the room after revealing a few more techniques, judging on how the day was going based on their expressions. You could see and feel the excitement in the room as things got interesting. As new techniques they’d never seen anywhere come up on the projection, I could see the excitement in their eyes illuminated only by the light coming from the projector. I can’t tell you more than that, and neither will anyone else, but what was delivered in that room won’t be seen anywhere else, and the feedback really shows it well (below). As the day progressed, it felt more like a group forum of discussion and dissection of information, we all contributed as a group and everyone felt more informed, including myself.
Day Two Group
As the day ended, it felt like I made a whole new set of friends and truly had one of the best experiences of the year. I thank everyone for making it possible and so glad it happened.
With the day finally over, it wasn’t over for us, we went home and retouched till 5 in the morning getting sample images done and writing about it from the day to show everyone who was interested.
The next day, we wrapped up with the final video segments and I headed back home. I know this is just the beginning, as we’re already getting tremendous request to take it on the road from coast to coast. Here’s the the start of a project that we know the world will be talking about.
To read more about the workshop and to see the samples from our workshop, feel free to visit Quavondo’s blog entries here:
Q, you put on the best workshops with the most amazing people! I was stunned when I saw that tool that Pratik was using. Like I said, it puts all of us on a level that will take the industry a year or two to catch up. It is a great marketing advantage to have this in my arsenal of tools. Like I said, this workshop would easily be worth $1500.00. The ROI is simply there for the taking.
- Hal Harrison
This weekends workshop was incredible.
From the instructors to the models to the methods -wow. My head is still buzzing. I’m really excited to continue to use the content that I learned from this workshop. Q and Pratik are amazing. The cost off class was nothing compared to the information they shared with us. Saving time- check. New and better methods of retouching- check. Killer course in lighting- check. Models, comrades, contacts.. It was all there.
A big thanks Q and Pratik and also to everybody I met in class, it was really cool. See ya on the flipside,
- Matte Hanna
Q and Pratik were just awesome. I used to think I was a decent retoucher but Pratik’s techniques set that straight! I’m really glad I was able to attend both days. The energy, inspiration, and amount of information was great. Well worth the price of admission
- Pete Springer
I can’t say enough about the workshop. I’ve been editing for almost 5 years and shooting for 2 and I was never interested in going to a workshop until I came across your work. I was under the impression that I would know most of the stuff already but I can’t begin to explain how much I’ve actually picked up. Lighting setups were simple and very nice to see that you can get fantastic shots from one light or 6. I’ve spent a TON of money on equipment/programs/lights and the list goes on but this was by far the single best thing I’ve spent my money on. I hit a plateau with my work recently and this was just the thing to push me over that hill and on to something I’d never thought I’d be able to produce.
For those interested, it’s worth the cost of the class and then some. Right after the first day of shooting I went home and did my usual workflow and I was stoked. Then I took Pratik’s class and went home and re edited the same shot and wow. It’s night and day. I learned more in these two days than I’ve learned in countless hours of shooting/editing. Thanks again guys!
Q and Pratik, thanks for the amazing workshop!
I learned so much, the lighting class was great and refreshing to see the way you do it Q. The lighting set ups were easier then I thought, and showed me that I have been over thinking it for too long. It help take away the magic, and showed me how Q does it. Well worth the time and cost! Pratik, that retouching class was mind blowing! I learned a similar work flow after hundreds of hours of digging through forums. Which you told me was the old version and the new version is faster and a ton better, which it was. Those new secret techniques made my work flow way more enjoyable and a few hours faster! Now I can actually spend the time and do it the good way instead of cheaping out for quick plug-in fixes that are not anywhere close to what you taught.
Q, and Pratik thanks for the amazing work shop worth much, much more then it cost.
I want to thank Q and Pratik for putting on such a good retouching workshop (I didn’t attend the photography workshop). It was so worthwhile. Pratik’s secret techniques will cut down my retouching time so much without sacrificing any quality. It’s hard to put a price on that. I thought his method of teaching was well thought out and enjoyable and he took so much time to patiently answer all questions. You guys rock!
- Sandi Gagne
I wasn’t going to go to the work shop this last weekend due to the fact that I didn’t really have the money for it. I had then put it out of my mind and went about my work. Days before the workshop started to got a message from Q asking me if I was going to sign up or not. I let him know I wasn’t really thinking about it nor had it off work. However, he warned me that I should come and it would be worth my time and money…he was right. I got myself there for both days and my brain is still mulling over what we learned and how I can apply it to my work! Though I am a little more broke…I know what I learned will improve my work and skill 100 times over…and its just money…nothing beats knowledge!