It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Regina Pagles!
Hello every one! My name is Regina Pagles, aka ‘shineylewis’ and I am a hobbyist photographer living in Springdale, Utah.
I am honored to be writing a post for this blog. Thank you Scott Kelby and Brad Moore for providing me this opportunity. Dreams really do come true!
It was roughly 20 years ago that my dad purchased the first version of Photoshop and installed it on his Apple 2e computer. We had no idea how to use the software and it was clearly above our skill level. In spite of this, we managed to figure out how to place my dad’s head onto Arnold Schwarzenegger’s body. To this day, I remember our laughter!
I was fascinated with the program, but never found the time to devote to learning all of it’s intricacies. I always said to myself, “One day…”
Fast forward 20 years: that day has come. I am obsessed with learning Photoshop and have finally decided in earnest to master the program to the best of my ability.
I considered myself primarily a landscape photographer until I was first introduced to studio lighting and portraiture at Photoshop World 2010. Westcott had a ‘Shoot Out’ booth on the Expo floor with professional lighting, sets and models. I was instantly hooked and spent hours taking hundreds of photographs. Upon returning home, I entered Westcott’s Flickr Photoshop World Shoot Out contest and amazingly, won first place. Shortly after, a truck pulled up to my front door and delivered a bunch of lighting equipment. Luckily, my husband and I had the space and we set up a small 400 sq. ft. studio. I can’t imagine ever going back to landscapes!
Even though it has been 2 years, studio lighting is still a mystery to me. I approach each photo shoot as an experiment. Sometimes the experiment goes well and sometimes not as well as I had hoped – but it’s all a learning experience. It’s the same when it comes to retouching. Some images are winners and quite a few end up in the trash can. I need to constantly remind myself: “Every shot does not have to be a masterpiece.”
I would like to make it clear that I am not a naturally gifted artist or photographer. In fact, I consider myself to be quite a hack. My theory is that if you throw enough mud against the wall, some of it is bound to stick. I just persevere.
A huge inspiration of mine is Joel Grimes, and my favorite quote from him is that “Hard work will out perform talent any day of the week.” That quote resonates with me because I am just a rather boring and realtively unimaginative person with a lot of patience and drive.
Early on, I worried about what others thought about my style of processing. Will THEY like it? I didn’t even know who THEY were, but their opinions were very, very important to me. Thankfully, I stopped caring and that’s when I started improving. The only approval I seek now is my own.
I realize that my style of retouching is not for everyone. It is not important to me that my images remain ‘natural.’ I view the face of the person that I am photographing as a blank canvas, and I have no idea what the result will look like in the end. Sometimes the resemblance to the subject is similar in the finished version, sometimes they don’t look anything like themselves. I don’t like blemishes, wrinkles, uneven skin tones or defects on myself and I have a tendency to obliterate them on any portrait I retouch. Up until very recently, I would apologize for this fact, however now I have decided to make it a disclaimer.
Photography and retouching are just a hobby and I do not accept paid assignments. I made a promise to myself not to turn my passion into a career and I am proud to consider myself an amateur. It is and always will be just a hobby, albeit one that I eat, breath, sleep and dream about. It is liberating to pursue something just for the sheer love of it. For me, it doesn’t always have to be about money.
This is a subject that I feel very strongly about and have actually gotten into serious arguments over. It amazes me how many people that I come across who feel that if a person doesn’t charge money, then their work or art has no value. Worse still, some feel that I devalue their work because I ‘work for free’. I have ruined many hobbies in the past, turning them into jobs. It may sound silly and possibly extreme, but I am of the opinion that once a person hands you money, they own your creative vision. It becomes all about the clients’ wants and needs and I want it to be all about me! I am perfectly fine with no deadlines, no do-overs, no unsatisfied clients and no stress!
I know that there will probably be quite a few photographers reading this that support themselves and their families with the income that they derive from providing photographic services. It is not my intent to diminish what they do or suggest in any way that they pursue photography just for money. I have chosen to keep photography and retouching a hobby and not a career.
Many have asked if HDR is involved, but I do not incorporate HDR into my portraits. The dynamic range is brought out many ways, but the ‘Tonal Contrast’ filter in the Color Efex bundle by Nik Software does a great job. I also use Perfect Photo Effects by onOne Software and on every photo I process. I will experiment with a variety of their filters. Finally, I love the filters from Topaz and don’t know what I’d do without them!
I get a few inquiries on how I retouch skin. First, I remove the imperfections with the healing brush. Then I will dodge the darker areas and pores and burn the lighter areas. Recently, I have begun experimenting with Imagenomics ‘Portraiture’ plug-in for skin. With the right settings, I am able to get decent results, while still retaining the pore structure. But my “go-to” skin retouching technique comes from retoucher Natalia Taffarel. On average, a portrait takes me about 10 hours to complete, but a lot of that time is devoted to trying out new techniques and experimenting. I work at a high resolution, but because I only display my images on the web and have never printed any, a lot of that detail is wasted.
I wish there was an easy answer to the questions I receive regarding my retouching techniques. Learning Photoshop for me has been painfully difficult and tedious to say the least. I want to throw in the towel on a regular basis (almost every photo). Unfortunately, there is no magic button. But with hard work, patience and perseverance, it is possible to realize your personal or professional goals.
The most important piece of advice I can offer is to impress yourself and stay true to your own vision. Don’t worry what THEY think!
I have a long way to go in defining my style and still rely heavily on my heroes for inspiration. Here are some links that I hope you will find useful:
Calvin Hollywood – German digital artist and photographer
I first discovered Calvin when he appeared as a guest poster on Scott Kelby’s Blog.
His English DVD training ‘Calvinize’ is amazing and I credit a lot of my techniques to him. He includes the skin retouching technique learned from Natalia Taffarel in this ‘Calvinize’ training. You can also find his classes offered on Kelby Training as well as his YouTube Channel. Most of his videos on YouTube are in German, but there are some in English as well, and they are worth seeking out!
I love Joel Grimes. I devour every word that comes from his mouth. He is such an inspiration and is so generous with his knowledge. [Framed] Network teamed up with Joel and aired weekly videos on the lighting set ups Joel uses to attain his images. There is so much information packed into those 20 minute videos. Joel also has classes offered on Kelby Training and amazing videos on YouTube.
‘Lit Up’ on the [Framed Network]
Joel Grimes – BEHIND THE SCENES – Dorion
Joel Grimes – BEHIND THE SCENES – Hope Solo
Joel Grimes – BEHIND THE SCENES – Lauren
Joel Grimes – BEHIND THE SCENES – Aimee
You have to experience Peter in action to truly appreciate him and what he has to offer. He will drill home the importance of interacting with the person in front of your camera and he is a true master, so you learn from the best. I love this guy and you will, too!
Natalia Taffarel – High end digital retoucher from Argentina
A real pro. I have her DVD, it’s 11.5 hours of advanced beauty retouching techniques. A little over my head, but worth it for the stuff that’s not. This is where I learned how to retouch skin. Her technique is awesome, especially at retaining pore structure.
What can I say about Sue Bryce. Watch her on CreativeLIVE and see for yourself. A master at posing, she transforms average Janes into supermodels before your eyes, with just a simple pose. If only I could remember to apply a fraction of the advice I’ve learned from her…
An amazing digital retoucher, famous for her retouching on images by Jill Greenberg. I learned quite a bit from watching her ‘Pointy Man’ tutorial on RetouchPRO. Worth the $15.00 if you have 2.5 hrs. to spend in front of the computer. You only have 3 days to watch it before it expires. Covers her ‘Carve’ technique that is a big part of her style.
Scott Kelby, whom I have learned so much from over the years. He has generously offered so much of his knowledge, in the form of books, tutorials, workshops, seminars, etc. If you’ve never been to Photoshop World, I can’t recommend it highly enough. It was there that I won that contest, sponsored by Westcott, that got me started in Portraiture.
Thank you, Scott!
My sincerest thanks to all those who have generously offered their time and energy to assist me in my endeavor to improve my skills, especially my husband, Fred.
You can see more of Regina’s work and follow her here: