Posts by David Max

Retouching corporate and executive portraits in San Diego, CA

With every corporate or business portrait comes the question, “How much should I retouch?”. It is not uncommon for photographers today to include a certain minimum amount of retouching even before presenting proofs to the client. So how do we determine what is a reasonable amount of retouching?

There are many variables, from gender, to age, to perceived vanity and/or self-consciousness. This is when listening to your client and asking questions becomes very important. I make a point of asking clients to share previous portraits that they have either been very happy with, or very disappointed with.

By looking at images together, a lot of important information comes through. I will usually hear a candid evaluation of their experience with their previous photographer, and I learn a great deal by paying attention. It is much easier for a customer to talk objectively about their appearance when looking at photograph, and I will often discover a number of helpful things that will improve our sitting together.

Comments about their  “best side (of face)”, anxieties about hair, or weight, or default expressions they go to when nervous — all very useful stuff for a portrait photographer. Most importantly, it breaks the ice. Meeting a customer just minutes before a shoot puts a burden of awkwardness on both photographer and subject.

Ultimately, a portrait speaks to the level of comfort you can create for your client in a very unnatural environment. If they are relaxed and happy, 99% of the time you will have a very successful shoot.

Unretouched

Unretouched

 

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Retouched

Corporate Headshots & Retouching | San Diego, CA

Thomas Medvetz is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of California, San Diego. His research focuses on the role of experts, professionals, and intellectuals in modern societies.

Tom came to the studio last year for a publicity head shot for new his book, “Think Tanks in America”, which I just discovered is now available through Amazon.com.

This book jacket portrait makes a good example of the importance of good image editing and retouching. Below is the original publicity image taken, at Studio 326 in La Jolla, CA:

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Unretouched/orig. background

  • Tom’s photo needed all the usual components of a “head retouch”, i.e.,  skin smoothing blemish removal, eye whitening teeth brightening, etc.
  • Additionally, I felt the chosen background was too close in color and tone to Tom’s wardrobe choice for the day.
  • So we opted to do an electronic background replacement with a more neutral gray and a gradient “glow” around the contours of body.
  • The end result is perhaps a little stronger than I’d like but the client was quite happy. I think the photo appeared “as is” on the book jacket.

This is the result —-

Retouched/background replacement

Retouched/background replacement

 

About the Author:

In Thomas’s book, “Think Tanks in America”, UCSD sociologist Tom Medvetz argues that the unsettling ambiguity of the think tank is less an accidental feature of its existence than the very key to its impact. By combining elements of more established sources of public knowledge—universities, government agencies, businesses, and the media—think tanks exert a tremendous amount of influence on the way citizens and lawmakers perceive the world, unbound by the more clearly defined roles of those other institutions.

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I took these pictures yesterday and they make a pretty good example of using a “tilt/shift” lens to correct distortions in perspective when photographing architecture. The tilt/shift lens allows the relationship between the lens and the film plane to be manipulated, like a traditional view camera. The lens and film plane are “locked” perpendicular to one another on all other cameras. The chief use is to straighten converging lines appearance and the appearance that buildings are “leaning backwards”.

The first image is taken with conventional lens.

The first image is taken with conventional lens.

The second image shows the corrections made with the tilt/shift lens.

The second image shows the corrections made with the tilt/shift lens.

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I was enlisted by Warner Communications PR to photograph Matt Guthmiller, a young MIT student and pilot, at San Diego’s Gillespie Field. Matt will be the youngest person to ever attempt to circumnavigate the globe. He will be doing so in a small single engine/single prop craft leaving San Diego mid-March. We arrived on a Sunday afternoon around 4 pm to a capture a handful of images to be used by WarnerPR for publicity.

Matt will be working with the charity organization, “CORE.ORG” to raise money to get computer science and technology courses into public schools. Working one reflector and the L series 85mm T 1.2 and 24 – 70mm T 2.8, we were fortunate to be shooting in the late afternoon. After a short while, a thin cloud layer came in over the western sky creating a much more manageable and softer light. Constant aperture of 2.8 in AV mode.

(No post-production enhancements – just straight photography and a good rapport with Matt ;-)”

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Last month we posted images from a CD cover shoot for vocalist Sarah Ingraham and jazz pianist Kamao Kenyatta.

Here are a few of their selections, along with two examples to see “before and after” the image editing and retouching. Skin softening, blemish removal, and teeth/eye-whitening. We also removed a small crack in the plaster wall on the left behind Kamao.

Example 1

Before Editing

Before Editing

After Editing

After Editing

Example 2

Before Editing

Before Editing

After Editing

After Editing