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.

Retouching Info:
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 â˜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 â˜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!


Guest Blog Post on Scott Kelby's â˜Photoshop Insider'

Calvin Hollywood Photoshop Tutorial Part 1 (YouTube)

Calvin Hollywood Photoshop Tutorial Part 2 (YouTube)

Calvin Hollywood Photoshop Tutorial Part 3 (YouTube)

Calvin Hollywood Photoshop Tutorial Part 4 (YouTube)

Joel Grimes
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.

â˜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

Peter Hurley
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!

â˜Art Behind The Headshot' Trailer

Guest Blog Post on Scott Kelby's â˜Photoshop Insider'

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.

â˜Beauty and Hair Retouching High End Techniques' DVD

Sue Bryce
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…

â˜Glamour Photography' Course on CreativeLIVE

â˜Inside The Glamour Studio' Course on CreativeLIVE

Amy Dresser
An amazing digital retoucher, famous for her retouching on images by Jill Greenberg. I learned quite a bit from watching her â˜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 â˜Carve' technique that is a big part of her style.

Amy Dresser Rentals Page on RetouchPro
Amy Dresser's retouching on Jill Greenbergs' images

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:

Portfolio Website

  1. Regina, awesome work, I love that style. You definately should stick to this, it’s a great look. I also do not pay the bills by photography and I’ve been shooting a long time, but that is changing quickly. After listening to RC on the Photofocus Podcast last week I made the big decision to start “paying for the addiction”! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve turned down jobs cause “it’s my passion and if I’m getting paid I may not like it as much”. I’ve always had the exact thought you have and I respect that and know where you are coming from. Last week I was approached by a large corporation about doing some out of town photography for them, a traveling job, and more jobs ahead. Well, I went for it! I came to the conclusion that if they were seeking me out then I must be doing something right. The money is awesome and my thought is if I start doing this more then the next camera/gear upgrades will be easier. This is such a big topic and I’m sure you will get lots of response. It touches close to home for me! Good luck, Ken

    1. Hi Ken,
      That is a wonderful opportunity and I am glad that you had the guts that I lack to pursue it! In addition to the inability to work under stress, I am sure that fear of failure plays into it for me.
      You are doing something right… keep it up!
      Look forward to your updates.

  2. Regina, what a fantastic post…so refreshing to read. You shoot better than any pro that I know of, and I love your attitude/position about the pro vs amateur argument! Rock on! Thanks so much for the links at the end of your post….

    1. Thank you so much for the compliment, Scotty. I am really glad that you find the post refreshing. I don’t want to offend anyone!
      I learned so much from my idols that I shared links to and I hope you do to!

  3. No doubt “Hard work will out perform talent any day of the week.” but make no mistake, you bring a lot of talent to the table.
    And for what its worth “they” like it.

  4. Regina, what a great eye! You say you’re a hack, but no m’am you are not! I’m so excited for your future work and loved reading your well written post! Good luck to you, keep it up :)

    1. Thank you, Linda!
      I actually had most of this post written a year ago, when I first fantasized about being a guest blogger. Never in a million years did I ever imagine it becoming a reality.
      I still can’t believe it…

  5. She
    is my MAIN inspiration. I hope to become half as talented as her. What I
    love most is that it’s her hobby and she does her work for free. As an
    amateur photographer myself, I have always felt somehow unsettled
    getting paid for a photo shoot. I love to shoot and edit, but not for the money.

    hope to get financially stable one day so I can provide beautiful works
    of art without worrying about what the client demands. As Regina said,

    “once a person hands you money, they own your creative vision. It becomes all about the clients’ wants and needs.”

    I couldn’t agree more.

    1. Francisco, I am so happy that there are others out there that share these thoughts.
      It doesn’t always have to be about money!

      It is amazing to me that I inspire others, but I will make every effort and try to continue and hopefully I won’t choke :)

  6. Calvin would be proud !

    You have taken his style, added a slight twist and have probably the very best portrait retouching I have ever seen. At least the results coming through on web based images. You have the softness of Calvin’s work. but the 3D depth of something I’ve not seen before.

    I too have followed Calvin for as long as he’s been around (wish he would do more English content) as it’s a remarkable ride to watch the DVDs he’s produced.. Job Well Done !

    1. Thank you, John – your comment puts a big smile on my face!
      I owe SO much to Calvin Hollywood. But my absolute FAVORITE thing about him is his willingness to share his knowledge. I aspire to be so generous. Unfortunately, he seems to have a great deal more energy than me… I can be a bit lazy :)

  7. hey, watcha ! you made it to Scotts Blog…nice one! you know I´ve been following you some time and I really must say your “experiments” would blow lots of the “pros” away :) keep up your style… all the best!


  8. Thanks a lot!!!!
    Your images a great and everybody can see that you have a lot of fun creating images like that.
    And THATS the reason why your images are so good and why you are posting on one of the best blogs.

    (the guy who have to do more in english*g*)

    1. What can I say, Calvin… I doubt I would be posting on this blog today… or ever, if it weren’t for the inspiration that you provided me and the wonderful ability you have to teach your methods. You are a selfless educator.

      I continuously suggest you as a presenter on CreativeLIVE.
      I CANNOT wait to see you on there, hopefully one day :)

      My sincerest ‘Thank You’.

  9. Regina, I dont always read right through on the guest blogs, but today I was really impressed with your dedication to learning, your commitment to experimenting and being the best you can be. I think that is a tremendous example to all of us, who are tempted to take a shortcut. Photoshop is still a bit of a mystery to me, being more passionate about the photography, but I will certainly take the time to follow your links through and try to learn some more skills. Thankyou for your inspiration this morning! :)

  10. Just read through many of the comments here and I agree with others, Regina, you do have a good eye as well as technical talent–however, what I really notice is what you have gotten out of your models! They are exuding sparkle and personality–which is a talent all to itself, and one I wish I had more confidence in, especially as an amateur. So–question: if they are not paying you for portraiture, where do you find your models?

    1. Hello Deborah,
      I am so fortunate to live in a very small town, (pop. 450) where all the people know each other and they are all so beautiful :) I am positive that this would not be the case if I still lived in New York, as I didn’t even know my neighbors’ name after 36 yrs. of living next door!

      As for the models’ personality, it is SO difficult for me to extract expression from them and it is indeed a talent all unto itself. Some, of course, are easier than others. I struggle with that more than anything else. Purchasing the ‘Art Behind The Headshot’ DVD by Peter Hurley was the game changer. What I learned from watching him really opened my eyes to the fact that, left to their own devices, a person in front of your camera will just sit there and lack expression. It is our job to direct them and this takes a lot of practice. I relate it to pulling teeth, it can be painful for me, as I MUCH prefer to be sitting behind the computer retouching and not having to talk to anyone :)Another major help in working with people was watching Sue Bryce on CreativeLIVE. Both Peter and Sue DEMAND something special in the eyes of the person being photographed. Just being able to look at 50 images and spotting the ONE where the person has that ‘twinkle’ in the eye is also a talent unto itself. I am getting better, but still have a long way to go!

      1. Thanks for that thoughtful and very helpful reply! You and I sound a lot alike in many regards–working with people in front of a camera is indeed my weakness, as I am a bit shy, and much prefer just hiding behind the lens and working with landscape, macro, even sports, where it’s just me and the camera. Even with family photos, I find myself not wanting to tell people what to do…even though afterward, I am always kicking myself for missed opportunities! I will take a look at those resources you mentioned, and perhaps they’ll give me the spark of inspiration they gave you. I’d love to do more portraits of friends and family, but lack the confidence do take it forward. Loved your post! Deb Scally/

  11. Regina…thank you for sharing your story! I must now think of another way to describe myself when someone asks about my photography…you’ve raised the bar on “hobbyist”!! I love the editing process and realize I have so much more to learn…your blog has given me the spark of courage I needed to focus on what I want to do with my photographs (oh, and I made a joke!) Thank you for your vision and inspiration!

  12. Bless you, Regina, for putting a capital “H” on Hobbyist!!! That is my title, too, and I agree that it can be difficult to get others to put value on what I do because I am not paid. Fortunately, like you, I have learned not to listen. :-) Your story is wonderful and I wish you continued passion and success!

  13. Regina—I don’t have to repeat to you that I love and admire your work. But in this huge family of Photoshop acolytes, you are truly a breath of fresh air. Hope to see you again in Summerdale or at a Photoshop World.

  14. Awesome Post, Regina! What an inspiration you are! Your work is just beautiful and you are full of talent! Way to go! Hard work is the only way to go, and a good lesson to us all! Keep up the Great work!


  15. Regina, This post is perfect timing for me. My Photoshop class is working on their final semester project. I always tell them to worry about what “They” like. I will make sure they see this blog post this morning in my class. Thanks for such an inspiring and timely post.
    Brad, You Rock My Friend!!!

  16. Hey Regina! It seems like just yesterday when I was sending you a Flickr message about Photography Served and your work that was posted on there – and now you’re a guest blogger on!!! AMAZING!! I really like your style of post-processing. I love the new poses for your models as well. It’s a very natural and elegant look, esp. for the ladies. Keep up the amazing work! I’m always excited to see new stuff posted on Flickr from shineylewis. Here’s to hobbyist!

  17. The student becomes a teacher – thank you for your candid take on photography and post-processing pro bono (if you will) as you are a true artist at heart. I believe you do your best work when you do it for yourself, for your own passion, which is evident in your work.
    Now you also inspire for simply bring you.
    May you have even more success in your passionate endeavors with photography and post-processing but your true gift will be the many that you have and will inspire with your ‘free’ works of art.

    1. ‘He who teaches, learns twice’.
      I am no teacher, but I like that quote, too :)
      I have to continually be reminded to impress only myself. It’s not easy.

      Thank you so much for your comment, Edwardson!

  18. Great job Regina! As a stay at home father with 3 boys and a career wife I took the plunge to earn some money with my talents as a second source for our family. It’s working. But I do yearn for the days when I had more time to play and experiment through photoshop. Its a tough balance for sure. I am most happy when I create for myself.

    Regina your work is fabulous. I aspire to most of the same mentors/photographers you do (having met Joel and Calvin at PSW) and will check out the others. I am especially in awe of your hair selections!! I’m getting better but still room to improve. Keep ’em coming. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Thanks for sharing your work, Regina. I really love what you’ve done in the retouching. I especially love your attitude about your work and not apologizing for how you feel about it. You said it well.

  20. Regina,
    A lot of your comments resonated with me. I’m a native of Utah (Welcome to Happy Valley!) and I’m very passionate about photography, but I refuse to charge money for it or spoil the fun by turning it into a job. I’ve had sort of an unrequited love of photoshop for years. Your comments are an inspiration, because your fantastic work makes it plain that hard work pays off. Your images are brilliant! Don’t ever let anyone (including yourself) tell you otherwise.

  21. Great post, lot’s of great info and fabulous images.

    Let me tell you, whether you charge money or not, you are a PRO!

    You could surely teach if you wanted to, and I for one would be honored to have a portrait taken and processed by you. Just a fabulous portfolio. Regina!

    Great work and thanks for sharing…

  22. Thank you for being an inspiration to those of us who do photography (and Photoshop) for the sheer pleasure of it! Also for mentioning that you “approach each photo shoot as an experiment”. No matter how carefully I set up my lights, the result is still a big surprise when it works out. When it doesn’t, I reset and shoot again! Your work is amazing! Thanks for sharing.

  23. Hey Regina, Your post today gives a whole new meaning to the term
    “hobbyist”. I often describe myself as a “serious hobbyist” – got to
    rethink that after viewing your work!! Thank you for sharing your
    personal philosophy and vision with such clarity. That clarity of
    purpose shows in your work. Your portraits have (to my eye) such
    emotional depth; I’m just quite speechless. Carry on – and thanks for
    sharing your story and describing your heroes.

  24. Regina – I’m another resident of Utah, would-be photoshop maven and amateur photographer. Love your work and attitude. Clearly, you are NOT a “hack.” Though I get that this is not false modesty on your part. I too have spent many hours on an individual image – simply for the joy of doing it. Thanks for your excellent post and for sharing your work

    1. Utah in da House!

      We have a lot in common, Mark…
      My modesty stems from my SEVERE dislike of braggers.
      I will bend over backwards to be the opposite, if possible.
      I also don’t like it when a person suggests that I am too modest (my brother, you know who you are),
      so get off my back :) I don’t believe that there is such a thing as being too modest.

      Thank you for your comment!

  25. Hey Regina, I have been following you on Google plus and thinks you are simply wonderful. I am an amateur photographer too, and what you wrote in your blog can all be applied to how I feel too. I love doing portraiture, for the love of it. All the best and I hope you never get sick of doing it simply cause you enjoy it.

  26. I first saw your unique style on the NAPP website, great to meet you and thank you for the answer to the question “why do you give your pictures away?”. Best of everything.

  27. Regina, Thank you so much for your sharing. You have no idea how your post hit home with me. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Your articulation of ‘art for the sake of joy’ – resonated deeply with me. Your philosophy, your work and your style all are admirable and motivate me to do more with my photography.

  28. An insightful and inspiring post Regina that gives confidence to all us ‘hacks’ out there. Ive been following your journey on 500px and Google+ ever since I saw you mentioned in my NAPP magazine as the winner of the Westscott contest, that catwoman shot was very cool. I liked your landscapes from Zion it is your portraits that really captured my interest.

    I will also second the comments about Sue Bryce, Calvin Hollywood and Joel Grimes stuff on [Framed] (especially as its free) and of course the Kelby guys. As a wholly self-taught Photoshop guy I find their work invaluable.

    Congratulations on the guest blog feature.

  29. Regina, I came across your work a couple weeks ago, and I have been addicted! Very inspiring. I hope that you will have tutorials soon! I do thank you for the Wonderful sharing of all those whose work you follow. Love!

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Dawn.Doubtful on the tutorials… that’s a job! I do appreciate the fact that there are some folks out there that would possibly watch them, though! That is very flattering.

      Sorry I haven’t responded to your question over at my Facebook Page. I believe that the soft box size I use is a medium. I’m just not 100% sure, as I wanted to measure. I’m doing some small renovations in the studio right now, so everything is put away :(

  30. Regina you are such a breath of fresh air. Thank you so much for this – I needed to hear what you had to say about the balance of passion and career. I’m so looking forward to finding your other images – which I’m sure will be just as fantastic and mesmerizing as those that you’ve included in this guest post. Again, thank you.

    1. Hi Greg,
      I wasn’t sure how my post would be received, but I sure am glad it was positively!
      I envisioned arguments and me having to defend my opinions. Phew!
      Thank you for taking the time to comment… really appreciated!

  31. Love your work! I too am struggling with photoshop and lighting. I just purchased both. I think it is great that you are able to keep it a hobby, for some it is too expensive to be a hobby or they may need to prove the value of their equipment to a spouse or partner so they start trying to be profitable. I know that I am happier when I work on something just for me without the pressure of trying to produce what THEY want. Stay true to yourself!

  32. You are truly a gifted and talented artist with great vision and have the ability through hard work to manipulate the software to make stunningly unique images.
    You may wish to consider yourself an amateur but what you deliver is without doubt a very polished and professional result.
    Hats off to you, I love seeing your work and wish i could even come within a smidgen of your style.
    Best wishes for 2013.

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