Meet the Masters: Wacom and Photoshop Pen Settings
Wacom goes over an array of settings based on tilt and pressure within the Wacom panel and Photoshop’s brush settings to give you precise control based on your needs. This is primarily for digital artists or if you’re interested in creating textures.
Our wonderful retouching contest has now ended (Link to the original contest: Contest Link).
I was surprised at the initial reaction and the amount of entries we received, well over 100 of them!
I want to thank everyone for entering. It was a very hard decision to make. I felt this way because each entry was quite moving.
It wasn’t simply about a ‘want’ to learn, but an absolute and legitimate ‘need’ to learn that was most showcased. They were often quite emotional, with stories that included people who have almost given up their entire lives to pursue photography. You can clearly see the will and determination they have.
If you would like to see this contest happen again, write in our comment section below and voice your thoughts!
[The Selection Process]
The way I decided on who deserved the prize was based on all of the above. I wanted to see who would really take what I’ve learned and get the most out of it. I received entries from people who are just starting out and have serious potential based on their work and dedication to people who are celebrity photographers who need to know a higher level of retouching in order to provide a better product to their clients and to excel their careers.
We’ve also received entries from people who have expressed that this is not just about learning retouching, but it’s about changing their lives around. Some of them were recently laid off and are starting to take their prior hobby of photography and make it their full time job. They’re able to make careers out of it in a time where our economy is in a downturn and need the knowledge to advance themselves. Then there are the entries from students who could not continue going to college anymore due to a lack of funds or information they really wanted to learn. So they turned to me to learn because they want to be full time retouchers.
This contest was a perfect opportunity for many people who could not afford the funds for it but need the knowledge.
So needless to say, it was very difficult to make the final decision. I turned to a panel of judges who aided me in the process of figuring out who deserved it the most. We spent the last day reading all the entries and coming up with a conclusive winner.
Our contest winner is photographer Jose Lopez, from Denver, Colorado! Congratulations Jose! I’ll be flying out to him at his convenience and meeting him hopefully soon.
This was his entry:
My name is Jose Lopez, and when I came across your opportunity to win a 2 day retouching session, I knew that it was something that I would absolutely love to win. I’m not much of a writer, but a chance like this would be foolish to ignore.
I am 20 years old, and at my age, most people find themselves confused and uncertain about which life path they would like to pursue. I, however, have found my passion.
I am a photographer, and that is what I dedicate myself to on a daily basis. My job is to see the beautiful in sometimes bland situations, and to appreciate details which others miss, and I find that absolutely intriguing. I would like to further myself and become a fashion photographer, but certain predicaments have made this road an extremely difficult one to pursue.
From the very beginning life seemed to be against me. My mother, whom at the time was pregnant with me, had a very domestically abusive relationship with my birth father. He would beat her, nearly to death on several occasions, while I was still in her womb. After I was born, my birth father attempted to burn her house down while I was still inside.
My mother fled Mexico, pursuing a better life for us both, and an opportunity for me to strive. Things here were much better but being undocumented, and having a family of six (including myself) I found my aspirations clouded, and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life, I just wanted to give up. That is, until I looked at my class schedule and found “Photography 1” as an elective. At the time I was definitely not happy with the fact that I would have to spend my already-dreadful day taking pictures, but once I looked through the lens for the very first time, I found it a completely different world; One where I could capture the emotions that I wanted. My pictures could express everything that I felt, for the first time I felt as though everyone could see what I saw and feel what I felt. My teachers saw a gift in me, something that I had never felt before. I felt like I could actually be good at something. I was convinced from an early point that photography was what I would do with my life.
Just the mere thought of not being able to fulfill my dream as a fashion photographer after all of my perseverance and determination against all of the odds I have surpassed, breaks my heart! I yearn to fill my brain with more knowledge as much as I yearn to make my dream come true. I know that winning your retouching lesson would get me many steps closer to my dream. I know not of the others participating in this contest, but I can honestly say that I am the prospect with the most heart, and desire to be a professional photographer, as it is not a hobby, but it is my life.
Thank you for this phenomenal opportunity you have presented to all of us hopefuls, and I hope you give my entry much consideration.
I can tell photography is Jose’s life and he lives it on a daily basis. Hopefully what I will teach Jose will allow him to progress his career. Education is a gift and I know he will put it to great use.
[For the Future]
With so many amazing entries, I really want to do this on a regular basis. Due to work and extensive costs associated with doing this on a regular basis, I found it’s not so feasible without outside help.
Ultimately, I would like to find sponsorship to be able to this on a regular basis (perhaps from Adobe or Wacom *smiles*).
Because I see how much of a difference it would make to the careers of individuals if they are empowered with the proper tools needed. There are people who can’t afford it otherwise, but would benefit greatly from it. Those are the people who I want to see receive this. If it was up to me and I had the sponsorship and backing, I would do this every single week at no cost to the recipient. There is no better feeling than teaching someone who takes what you have to offer and runs with it. It is those people who succeed tremendously and you see the product of their own determination start to take shape. Seeing their success bloom because of it is beautiful.
With that in mind, it was definitely a great contest and this inspired me to find ways to make this happen more often.
I want to thank everyone who entered, it wasn’t easy and everyone truly deserved to win. I did not receive one entry that I felt did not deserve it. Out of over 100 entries, it was a tough call but I believe we made the right decision. Congratulations to Jose for being our winner and I hope to do this contest again in the near future, perhaps even opening it to international destinations!
Be sure to comment below and let us know if you would like to see more in the future! The more support we get, the better the potential for making it happen.
I recently had the opportunity to do the official review for the Art of Dodge and Burn, which is the third DVD in the High End Retouching series. It is taught by the incredibly knowledgeable and talented, Krunoslav Stifter.
After doing the official pre-release review of the 2nd DVD in the series, Beauty & Hair Retouching High End Techniques by Natalia Taffarel, I felt reviewing the 3rd DVD would be a perfect continuation as I had a basis for comparison between the two.
You can read the review below, or on the site directly (past the table of contents) at
With the recent launch of, The Art of Dodge and Burn, I was excited to hear that the talented Krunoslav Stifter was the presenter in the third DVD of the High End Retouching series. He has always been a guy with tremendous amounts of knowledge and also a very good teacher. So this was a perfect continuation in the series with Krunoslav leading the way.
However, does it translate into a great DVD and is it worth your time and money? Also, how useful is it to you? After all, the price is $249, so you want to be sure you are really getting your money’s worth. I also want to be sure this review not only goes over the DVD, but really allows you to have your questions answered on how valuable it is as a consumer based on varying experience levels.
Often DVD’s are great in the trailer but sometimes don’t really showcase or teach very much. They just show without explaining on what is going on. It takes someone who is both knowledgeable and a great teacher to make a DVD like this work. There is so much misinformation out there that it is very important I recommend the right set of materials as I am putting my name behind it.
With that in mind, this will strictly be a review of the DVD, rather than an explanation of each section. This will allow me to emphasize the sheer quality and value of this DVD.
So who am I? My name is Pratik Naik of Solstice Retouch. I am a full time high-end photo retoucher who specializes in editorial and commercial work. I previously did the official review for the second DVD in the series, “Beauty & Hair Retouching High End Techniques by Natalia Taffarel.”
The first thing that really caught my interest in the DVD was the trailer and table of contents, which are both shown above this review. Although the title is referring to the Art of Dodge and Burn, it seems that there is much more information presented! The DVD itself is 10 hours long and includes all the working files with the layers in tact for you to follow along with.
If you look under the ‘Sample Clips’ section above, you will see the video for the trailer. It shows an overview of what he goes over in the DVD. You can also see the table of contents above which gives you an detailed look about what to expect.
After getting a chance to see the entire DVD, I was pleasantly surprised. I had high expectations going into it. Not only did it meet them but it surprisingly exceeded them. It is quite hard to have that happen after all these years of looking at material. In the end, I also picked up a few things of my own that I was not aware of prior. It’s amazing how Photoshop can keep on surprising you after years of working with it. Since the second part of the series, I haven’t seen a DVD as good as this one.
The way Krunoslav presents his information is very clever. He designed it in a way where it’s not hard to follow along if you’re a novice, yet still very exciting even if you’re a seasoned professional. He always provides examples of what he goes over so it’s not a foreign concept when you hear it for the first time.
Another great aspect about the DVD is that he doesn’t only go over the techniques but also explains the range of use each technique can be put toward. Learning a technique on its own is useless if you don’t know exactly when and where to apply it. Krunoslav doesn’t just teach the techniques, but also expresses the principles about when and why to use each of them. The end result is that the information isn’t just applicable to just beauty or fashion but to anything at all!
Vocabulary and terminology is also very important to understand. He takes some time to go over these specific terms so you aren’t lost. Essentially, he makes sure you understand the basics before actually getting into retouching to help you follow along easily.
You can tell he doesn’t hold back in his knowledge. I am surprised it was simply called, The Art of Dodge and Burn. In reality, it should have been called, the Principles of Retouching, because he divulges so much information that you come out it with much more than you bargained for.
I’m sure you’ve sat through tutorials where it all goes over your head. As you keep watching, all you see is a cursor fly across the screen without understanding what is going on or what the presenter is pressing to be able to achieve the end result. This is not the case here. I’ve always said, that the magic of retouching goes beyond just understanding these tools but knowing when and how to apply them. He really delves into an important element, which are the preferences, setup, and keyboard shortcuts that really allow for optimal efficiency. Often, the reason why people have a hard time putting new techniques into motion is a lack of understanding what preferences to apply before going forward with them. With this DVD, he goes over all of it so you can follow along very easily.
What I appreciate, above all else, is the time he took to organize all the information presented, which makes it completely clear and very visually engaging. He doesn’t leave you guessing anywhere. For example, there was a section in the DVD that talks about keyboard shortcuts. He took into consideration what keyboard you have based on what part of the world you live in. Usually, when people talk about shortcuts, they will talk about mac or pc shortcuts options, but not the type of keyboard you have based on where you live. That’s just a small example of the level of detail that he goes into.
As you can tell by now, this DVD is strictly not just about dodging and burning, I would call this essential learning material for Photoshop in general. As you can see by the table of contents, it really does cover all your bases. Believe it or not, even the table of contents is like a teaser. For example, the sectioned titled, Brush Settings, is almost 30 minutes long with each second being squeezed with pertinent and comprehensive material.
You get to go inside his mind and go along with him as he goes through every step of the process. The DVD’s title undersells the entire curriculum of what it offers. Even though it goes over dodging and burning in complete detail, it also goes over his entire retouching workflow as a whole.
A fantastic aspect is that he includes optimal ways to assess perfect working conditions to get the best results from your image. Being able to express how to get great results is a very difficult thing to do as it encompasses all these unique elements that most people never explain.
For example: How often should you step away from the screen? How often should you be taking a break? Are you setting up a plan of attack before actually retouching? What is your posture like to gain optimal comfort when retouching? How do you prevent eye strain during retouching?
Seeing first hand, these tips being put into words, is just an added bonus on why I really feel strongly about recommending this DVD to anyone. Because retouching is more physically strenuous than most people think, and they need a plan on how to become efficient and equally comfortable. You can’t put a price on these tips from someone who spends hours a day working in front of a computer. That is the other dimension I am referring to and there are a lot more things to be taken into consideration that he goes over.
In my opinion, you could use this DVD and have it replace one class entirely.
So regardless of how experienced you are, put down your ego and grab this DVD! You’ll be impressed and will learn something new. As I mentioned earlier, even I picked up a few new things that I was surprised I didn’t know.
Here are a few questions I received from others as I was reviewing the DVD:
Is he easy to follow? I tried to follow the DVD in the eyes of both a professional and a beginner. I felt that with the information provided, it was relatively easy to follow regardless of your level of experience. If you ever do get stuck anywhere, remember that this is a DVD and you can always go back to it over and over again.
Is he clear? The way Krunoslav teaches, clarity was the biggest strong point about the DVD. Although English is not his first language, he slows down and takes his time explaining every topic with examples.
Is it comprehensive? It was more than comprehensive regarding the dodge and burn portion because it goes into more than that, which is reflected by the the topics in the table of contents. It’s safe to say, that if you’ve been stuck anywhere with dodging and burning effectively, it will answer every question you’ve had. Consider this an essential part of your training library.
What does the DVD include? It includes over 10 hours worth tutorials and every single working file that the tutorials go over. This allows you to follow along perfectly.
How valuable is it (cost vs benefit ratio)? With the cost being so low in relativity with the information being provided, it’s highly valuable. If you’re also a beginner, it could take place of an entire semester’s worth of knowledge.
Do professionals learn anything? Yes, especially if you’re very artistic based. I find that in the realm of Photoshop and retouching in specific, we’re either very visual and artistically based or technically based. It’s rare you get both sides converging. It was very technical yet applicable to both sides. I learned a lot more than I bargained for. I can see that a majority of people will walk away with something useful that they can apply right away.
Does it clear up misinformation found on the internet? Youtube and online tutorials have plenty of bad information. If you’ve been frustrated with dodging and burning, this will make sense of it all.
In Conclusion I could go on forever writing about the details of this DVD but I do not want to spoil it. At the end of this DVD you will have a better understanding of Photoshop, the tools provided, as well as the techniques and process of dodging and burning as a whole. It really demystifies all the bad information out there, and also accumulates all the good information into one source that you can revisit at any time. The information surpasses just dodging and burning and is an invaluable asset to your collection of knowledge. I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t benefit from this DVD. Krunoslav is a wealth of information and he will surprise you with what he has to offer. To say this is comprehensive is a little bit of an understatement, as grand as that claim seems.
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.
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!
Just recently, I had the opportunity to visit and teach a retouching course on the beautiful islands that make up Bermuda, all thanks to photographer, Jevaughn Simons for making it happen. Take a look out the amazing experience here: (link)
What really struck me about Bermudians, is that not only are they incredibly hospitable, but they share an insatiable urge for knowledge and a showcased a level of talent that I did not expect. I was amazed at how many talented photographers there were on the island. Not only talented in photography, but also in retouching. When our course was over, I was amazed at how gifted out entire group was.
Jevaughn, surprisingly was the best student I ever had. He grasped and executed everything with complete precision. Color me impressed, he had the potential to hang with some of the World’s best. So this fascinated me to no end, considering I have been to many cities and have mentored many talented people. You really can’t always judge someone’s talent, from their perceived body of work, without seeing their work first hand, especially in retouching. And after seeing him work right in front of me, I knew I was looking at talent.
But with the small size of the island (only 21 square miles), I was curious on how they were differentiating themselves with such a limited clientele on the photography end.
On the end of our second day of teaching, I stood outside with a few of my newly found friends and colleagues, and began talking about progressing not only on the island but putting Bermuda on the map globally. I was inspired to interview Jevaughn and Ivan to give everyone an overview about the industry on the island and their plans for growing their name outside of it. They both had great plans.
Thus, commenced my interview with Jevaughn and Ivan.
What is primary source of revenue with photography?
- (Ivan) It would be with the local businesses to do commercial ad work, annual reports, and a few local magazines, then there is the weddings which have been for the most part done by more well known photographers marketing for just that genre. Due to the size of Bermuda and the fact that word of mouth is gold here, many people tend to stick with the photographer with the best reputation. Thus, getting that reputation is the biggest challenge for up and coming pro photographers. For me my
revenue is limited to portraits for identification programs. I do also do model portfolios but that rarely pays here in Bermuda. There are too many up and coming photographers that are doing it for free.
- (Jevaughn) For myself my primary source of revenue is commercial ad work a few local magazines and a wedding here and there. With myself being a young photographer like Ivan said you need to build a reputation and I am in the process of doing that right now.
What do you like to shoot primarily?
- (I) I primarily like the fashion and beauty photography, I am drawn to the creative looks and expressions of the models, and the concepts. I like to develop the concept and work through the kinks to see it through to finish. Learning about what to do better and refining the process. I occasionally do landscapes as well but find it harder to make photographs from locations that have not been shot before, and /or shooting those same locations from different perspectives. (We are only 21 miles long)
- (J) When I first started I would shoot any and everything but as time progressed on I refined my craft of shooting to just fashion and beauty photography. I have found that this is my calling even tho I still shoot other genres.
How is the fashion scene in Bermuda?
- (I,J) There is not much of one here, but we do try. Lately there has been good efforts to create one, with fashion shows and the few meet ups, and those same models posing for individual fashion shoots. But it is relatively small and the quality of both models, stylist and thus photographers in that area can do a lot to improve it. (myself included).
When did you both start photography?
- (I) I started photography in 2002, initially doing headshots for identification programs which I was installing within local businesses. In 2004 I decided to really make photography a major focus (as to not have a more experienced photographer take away part of my business that I was making for myself). I then started to host workshops whilst on my journey to becoming better and improving myself, and thought to help along other like-minded photographers. Previously the pro photographers that were/are here went to photography school (with the exception of a few), came back and started their photography business. They were for the most part not very forthcoming with passing on information to other photographers or even mentoring or allowing assistants. So I started hosting workshops. My first was with a friend of mine from Toronto named Glenn Specht, he was really passionate about light and photography. I learned a lot from him, which fueled my photographic
fire. I Have also learned from and hosted workshops here in Bermuda for Don Giannatti and Steven Eastwood. lately (the past two years) I have also focued on retouching. I have met (online) many really really good retouchers, Pratik, C. A. Lanenga, Krunoslav & Natalia Taffarel being the main one for inspiring me. She has been like a mentor to me and I was honored to host
a retouching workshop for her as well.
- (J) I started photography in Nov 2008 my insertion came from a picture that was taken of me wining my sec US National Championship the month before. When looking at that picture I thought to myself hey I can make something else look that good in hopes they would have the same feelings that I had. About a year and a half ago I decide I wanted to really get into Photoshop and learned the post production side of photography “retouching,” and it has been history from there.
Is there plenty of competition in Bermuda?
- (I) Now there is starting to be. Before I took photography seriously there was only 10 in the yellow pages. Although now there are a few more, there is a large jump in photographers that are advanced amateurs or semi pro photographers. Meaning they do photography work at times, but they have a full time job (sometimes two), like myself. I am a graphic designer (http://www.eye-designz.com/web/?id=home ) and have injected my photography into my business model so I do more of it. I would love to do even more.
- (J) I would say that each genre has it own competition but with in each genre there is only a few. With fashion I do not find too much competition do to the fact that the fashion industry here is so small so the majority of us fly to different locations around the world to shoot.
How did you both meet?What brought you two together?
- (I,J) Bermuda is a small place. I have know his sister for years. I only recently met Jevaughn about a year ago. I believe we were shooting the same fashion show.
Tell me about the joint website you guys have?How did it come about and what is it about?
- (I,J) Jeavaughn and I quickly realized that we were on similar paths. And during a conversation the idea of a collaboration came about. It was while talking to Pratik right after his retouching workshop that the idea of the possibility of working together came about. We have the same ambition for both photography and retouching so it seemed only logical to link up and make a really good go at it. I think we both have bigger goals of getting out of Bermuda, without having to step on each other to do it.
Who else is a part of the team?
- (I,J) right now it is work in progress, as we build and map out the direction we are to go there are two other photographers that we work with Kenneth Fox Jr. and Steve Darrell.
What are you looking to change? (the fashion industry? or putting Bermuda on the map?)
- (I) I personally am hoping to change the mindset of local photographers (huge right…) The whole crab in a bucket mentality has really stifled the quality and opportunities for many, allowing only the select few to really prosper.
- (J) “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” this is what comes to mind when I think of how I would like to make a change. What I have noticed is that a lot of people here in Bermuda are stuck in there old ways which is really holding a lot of people back. I try not to get caught in that thought
process. With the drive that I have not to be apart of the norm has allowed me to reach out to many different photographer and retouchers from around the world. The knowledge that they have passed on to me has allowed me to keep away and see the world in a new light. Now with this new found
knowledge that I have I want to pass bring it to Bermuda and help bring up an industry that is hardly known here on the island.
Have there been any other famous Bermudian shooters that left the island?
(I) I do martial arts. I have a 2nd degree black belt in Shotokan Karate and Sanuces Jujitsu. I also hold belts in Arnis
(stick & knife fighting) and Capoeira. I also loved dance but gave that up after my son was born.
(J) Right now I am a motorcycle sales rep. I also work on motorcycles on the side for customers. Also on the weekends when I have the free time I go to the track and mentor some of the up and coming riders.
What is your ultimate goal with photography and retouching?
- (I) I would love to be making a good living off of my photography/retouching for international magazines and clients. I would love to hold an endorsement for a camera brand to shoot with very talented teams for large clients. I would love to be traveling to locations to make the shoots really come off well. I would really love to be involved with talented photographers, stylist, directors that really inspire me to create or be involved in the creation.
- (J) My final goal is to have high end clients from all over the world asking for assistance/work to be done for them by a team that has come from and island that is only 21sq miles. I have started this process as well as Ivan in meeting new people host workshops and trying to start something from nothing. Having the same drive I had in racing as I do now for photography and retouching has led me to meet some great people. Pratik has already opened up so many doors for me that I thank him each time I get the chance because he has help me a great deal in getting closer to my goal. So this I know will not be the last time I say it but Thank you.
- (I) I want to thank you Pratik for this opportunity, and can say that after meeting and talking to you I have been rejuvenated at the possibilities that lie ahead of me and the association/partnership with Jeavaughn.
Thank you to Jevaughn and Ivan for showcasing and giving us some insight on the island!
Good friend of mine, Krunoslav Stifter, is taking healm of the third series in the High End Retouching series. This will focus, in great detail, on the elegant dodge and burn process which has eluded many for so long. I will be providing an official pre-release review before it launches, so stay tuned. This is merely a heads up to sign up for updates.
Go to their site and check out the DVD Trailer on the top left of the 4 presented to see how much he has packed into this DVD.
“People don’t to want to die, but everyone wants to go to Heaven.”
A quote uttered in college Algebra years ago by my professor. It was hot inside the class and no one was really paying attention. We all, of course just laughed it off as random garble. I could still remember looking around the room seeing everyone laugh, assuming he was joking like he always does. He was trying to invigorate us to study for our final. He was insisting that we had to pay our dues before we reached where we wanted. That moment I realized he wasn’t joking anymore.
For some reason, what he said that day in class stuck in my mind. In fact, I could argue that, that was the most memorable line that I remember any of my professors say. The fact that it was probably dismissed and forgotten by everyone else, makes me wonder who else may have remembered that.
When I first began in my career, I would learn first hand what it took to make it. I knew it was sacrifice and dedication, but after a while, those cliche statements tend to become watered down in their true potency of how much effort they require.
The main question people still ask me is how I became a retoucher, and what does it entail? People don’t realize that it’s more than sheer skill.
Although I have not made it to my ultimate goal, I can say that I have gone through enough to realize what it takes to become a successful retoucher. I wanted to briefly share with you regarding some traits I feel are absolutely necessary. This is not only to educate, but also shed a light on what you need to posses to make it.
Keep in mind, all of this is based on personal reflections and opinions. All everything is, is opinion, really. Everyone has a different viewpoint of the truth and what is accurate. Take it for what you will.
Business and Marketing Personality Photography Anatomy Drawing Manipulation Talent Education
Business and Marketing
This is the most important aspect about being a retoucher, it trumps skillset and everything that follows. In the beginning, there is only you. You without help, just an idea of where you want to go in your mind. You won’t have an agent or business partner, at least for the most of us. Being able to understand that you will play many roles, primarily that of a salesman and a marketer. You will have go out there and make sales and market yourself.
The one major advantage I have found from people who do not make it to the ones that do, is that the ones that make it are agressive with their business and know how to market themselves. This is why these two go hand in hand. If you cannot maintain a presence, and book jobs, you will be cut out by people who do. Now, with the internet, remember that anyone can pick up retouching - it costs nothing. You have to not only get jobs, but market yourself in a way that makes you stand out from the rest of the crowd. Having a business plan, and executing it step by step is the vitality in your business.
As Joel Grimes said, if you cannot pick up the phone, and make cold calls, you just won’t make it. Now, in this day, cold calls are probably equivalent to cold e-mails.
I consider this a subset of marketing. In this day, it’s absolutely vital to establish an online presence. The most succesful up and coming people are engaged in networking to a degree that made me realize how serious it was. Blogging and social networking has given people a way to be found. You can’t expect people to know you exist unless you let them know you’re here! Facebook, Twitter, Wordpress, Tumblr, Google+, and these other sites are here so we can take full advantage of them. Having and making connections is the key. It’s often who you know that can really get you to new heights.
Think of everyone you admire, look up to, or is succesful. They are all characters. They have something about them that really makes them stand out. My friend, Natalia Taffarel for example, has a unique and distinct personality about her. If you know her and see what she posts or writes about, you can clearly make out how she differs from the rest. She is not just a person, she has become a brand. And part of a brand, is personality. Yes, even though you’re behind a screen, part of your personality seeps into the the online realm as they get to know you.
The other aspect of personality, is in regards to how well you get along with your clients and maintain relationships. When you work with your clients, it helps to have a great personality when working with them, one that reflects commitment, enthusiasm, and professionalism. No one wants to work with someone who is always negative and possesses terrible traits. You have to be approachable and personable.
When you’re working with photographers, it helps to know photography and lighting. Why? Let’s say you receive a set of files for a shoot, and you want to reshape lighting slightly in post. It helps to understand how it would look in real life before you guess at it. Another exmaple, you’re retouching a set for a submission and your client tells you that the file is not as sharp as you intended. You can look at the exif and see that one of the reasons is that they were not on the sweet spot of the lens they were using, or perhaps that their SS was too low. These are very negligable examples, of course, and it can go on forever. A lot of the times, when you can communicate in lingo and understand exactly what the photographer is saying, and actually tell him how to save money in post production just based on lighting suggestions or what to do on set physically, it really puts an added advantage to you. Also, many retoucher (I know I do) help on set, I can now double as an assistant and setup and tear down as needed. I can also help on set showing the photographer a few things on how to cut down time in post. You instantely become more valuable. There are countless examples, really. You should be able to think of many more.
It really helps to understand how a body should look based on the way it bends, because you will know exactly what is going too far.
Drawing and Art
The principles of art and drawing become a staple of talented retouchers. Their awareness of how light should be shaped, and how to execute the retouching process becomes vital. Studying art, allows you to get a grasp of studying the execution of retouching. In art, you’re forced to draw shadow and light around complex forms, and learn color values and how color and light differ and relate to each other. You study more than that, of course, but this is primarily a mere example. Many of us have a background in fine art or some form of education on the basic principles of drawing and form. Shifting color and light is essentially what retouching is.
Now, more than ever, retouchers are not only expected to perfect skin and hair, but also manipulate images to an entirely new level which requires an advanced range of Photoshop skills. If you do not posess at least a basic understanding of Photoshop manipulation, you will lose jobs especially when they request for you to do basic things like adjust clothing or remove items all the way to compositing faces and new expressions from other files. It can get pretty intense, and more involved than described.
The word in itself is so abstract, defining the ability of aptitute or skill.
Of course, learning everything means nothing, without the ability to execute your knowledge in the real world. Everything I have described till now has been just characteristics of knowledge, primarily. in the end you have to have talent. I consider talent to be the level of detail in which you execute the knowledge given (by studying or by nature) to the task at hand. You must have some talent to make it. Even if it is a little. I say this, because I have seen people who are talent-less with a great business and marketing sense make it. On tht other side, I have seem people with all the talent in the world and no business sense make it. But usually those that make it are people with more business skills coupled with at least a little bit of talent.
Education and Innovation
Aside from knowing how to retouch, you need to constantly set aside time to educate what new tools and techniques are available on the market to help you stay ahead of the compeition. You also need to be innovative and use these tools to come up with your own unique solutions that no one else knows. Setting yourself ahead of the competition in one way or another is key.
There is also a lot more included that are subsets of these items, such as accounting, time management, organization, cost of equipment, customer service, and so forth. You are essentially an entire office in one. There is a lot that meets the eye, spend time in doing more than honing your skills, but honing your business.
And finally, keep in mind that this is all based on personal opinion and what I felt was important. You may agree, disagree, or feel there is even more, and that is completely fine. As long as you’re prepared, that is the most important part of all.