Are you a Photographer, Retoucher or Graphic Artist?

This article was inspired by an interaction I had with a member of a Facebook photography group I belong to. A member posted an image of a bride standing in front of a jungle gym on a playground. He removed the jungle gym and was looking for praise in the form of asking for critiques. When he didn’t get the positive feedback he was hoping for, he proceeded to argue why he felt the image was his best work. I simply asked him if he is a photographer, retoucher, or graphic artist. His reply set the tone for my advice.

Proper Advice For The Proper Level

As an educator, my job is to inspire and help others, not tear them down. Before I give advice I ask what level the person wants me to critique their work — beginner, intermediate, advanced, or professional making a living — then I give proper advice for the proper level. So when I asked him, “Are you a photographer, retoucher, or graphic artist and at what level?” he proclaimed he is proficient in all three. Here is a sample of the interaction.

Guy on Facebook: Art, art, art. You know what I’m saying. That’s why you see Rihanna in the movies while she’s a singer.

Vanelli: You can be all three. BUT, for each discipline, you need to do it right. Unless there was no other way to get the shot of the bride, and I mean zero chance of moving her to a different location, then you move to plan B and use Photoshop to FIX and REPAIR. Think how long it took you to take the shot and then to edit it. Sometimes it’s quicker to fix it in post or for the sake of “ART,” you get the quick shot then manipulate it after. Again, decide which one you are IN THAT MOMENT. I hope this helps.

This statement didn’t help him and he continued to comment why everyone is wrong and he is right. I ended my participation in the conversation. I want to show his image, but out of respect I can’t. Instead, I’ll continue by using a bad image I took early on in my career when I thought I knew lighting.

Photographers Strive To Get It Right Before They Take The Shot

I was excited after I took this image. I had just learned how to use a light meter and didn’t have to guess at achieving proper exposure. I was even excited that I got the model to strike an interesting pose. I received praise from friends, local photographers, and even the model — who proclaimed I was the best photographer she had ever worked with. I was feeling pretty full of myself, until I asked the late great Jim DiVitale to review my portfolio at Photoshop World. Looking back, I realized how kind he was in choosing the right words to teach me about feathering the light, using grids, and how sometimes, to light a scene, you need to remove or redirect light. That was one of the best Photoshop Worlds I attended.

Retouching Should Enhance The Image, Not Repair It

Over the years I’ve developed my editing and retouching skills. I rose through the ranks while creating presets, looks, and creating educational content for a variety of photography-related companies. This skill set landed me a position with Skylum Software as a member of their Education Development Team. I still consider myself a photographer first. If I want to remove a blemish on a subject or ensure they have perfect skin, I hire a makeup artist. If there isn’t room in the budget for a makeup artist, THEN I fix it in post.

Recently I was asked to create a tutorial on how to develop a dramatic portrait using Luminar. This was a perfect opportunity to once again share the knowledge Jimmy D gave me many years ago. In this short 3-minute video, I show how to use Luminar to develop a dramatic portrait, and what photographers can do to achieve the same look as they take the photo.

A Graphic Artist Has The Ability To Transport Us To A Different Reality

Software such as Luminar was designed with photographers in mind and has some graphic tools — layers, masking, blending modes — to help their artistic efforts. Photoshop, on the other hand, was designed with graphic artists in mind and has tools photographers can use, making it a perfect choice to augment or change reality. I am by no means a Bert Monroy, Corey Barker, or Brooke Shaden. The graphic skills I’ve achieved came from the many years of attending Photoshop World and learning from some of the greats. When something inspires me, I do my best to be able to achieve it in camera. When that’s not possible, I enhance it in Luminar and then take it Photoshop to complete the vision.

For the image below, from my Assassin series, I didn’t have access to a rooftop with the New York skyline. So, instead, I found a rooftop image on Adobe Stock and photographed my assassin on a dark background to match the scene.

For this next image, “Shipwreck,”  I used my photography skills to achieve a beautiful blue sky by cross filtering. I set the white balance in the camera to Tungsten to make everything blue, then applied a CTO (color temperature orange) gel to color correct the light illuminating the model. Once again, I searched Adobe Stock for images of stars and the moon.

For the image below, from my Aviator series, I took images of vintage planes at an air show, then photographed the aviator on a white background to make it easier to extract her and to match the scene.

So ask yourself, are you a Photographer, Retoucher, or Graphic Artist? With discipline, you can achieve all three! But decide which one you are IN THAT MOMENT and use that skill to the best of your ability.

You can see Vanelli in person at Photoshop World Orlando from May 30 – June 1! You can also find more of his work at VanelliAndFriends.com, and keep up with him over at PhotoFocus and on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Photoshop World is coming up soon, and with two events this year it’s set to be amazing! I’ve said of Photoshop World before: –

You should never underestimate the power of networking provided by Photoshop World, as well as the learning, inspiration, motivation, and everything else on offer! You never know who you might be talking to and everyone there is your friend.

Dave, last year

It’s because of the people at KelbyOne and Photoshop World that I have gotten where I am today. I started my journey as a travel photographer a few years ago and developed my skills as a writer and instructor as well, partly due to what I’ve learned and experienced at Photoshop world.  I’m proud to be a KelbyOne instructor, a writer for Photoshop User magazine, the editor of Layers Magazine, and the dude who writes for you every Tuesday for #TravelTuesday on ScottKelby.com.


Photoshop World is the best place in the industry to make and maintain connections, bar none. It’s funny because when you learn to write for editorial there are a whole bunch of rules, one of which is that when you want to emphasise something you put it in italics—you don’t make it bold and underline it, but I just can’t make this point strongly enough! 

Photoshop World is much, much more than a conference! Aside from the fact that you can attend a ton of classes on a range of tracks led by the cream of the crop from the creative industry. Here’s the real deal, let’s go!

First off, you know all those names you see on the KelbyOne Facebook Page? The members’ images shared on the KelbyOne Instagram feed? The names you hear mentioned when the comments are read out during The Grid? The names you see commenting on your Instagram posts because you’re both members of the KelbyOne community? You get to put faces to those names!

So, what else?! I mean, surely life-long friendships alone are a pretty good reason to look forward to the other side of Photoshop World, but what else?

The Partner Pavilion’s pretty sweet. You know that there’s a huge gathering of awesome creatives showing their wares there too, right? So, the likes of B&H Photo and Platypod Tripods are joined by so many other awesome companies that we all love right in one place, waiting to meet you too! That’s a pretty “mainstream” thing about Photoshop World though, and that’s not the point of this post. It’s meant to be the other things!

And then there are all the extra-curricular activities! There is a whole load of things going on in the evenings. When you hear about a party being announced or “tickets being released tomorrow morning” or anything like that, jump on it!

So, there’s all that, there’s the t-shirt toss, there’s the shipment of the biggest pile of Krispy Kreme donuts you’ve ever seen at Midnight Madness, and I feel like I’m laying down a sales pitch now, but there’s good reason for that—Photoshop World is the creative event of all creative events!

Kirk marsh, matt divine, mark Rodriguez, brad Moore, Gilmar smith, Scott Kelby, Dave Williams, jr Maddox, Larry Becker, Doug young, Kaylee Greer, dalton Hamm, group shot selfie at photoshop world conference east Orlando

Live events, in general, provide unique learning and career building opportunities that aren’t matched anywhere else. Taking a break from your day job, particularly when in our creative and ever-evolving industry, to sharpen your skills and pick up new tips and techniques will always make us more effective and efficient. Not only is it an opportunity to meet your business idols, making connections can lead to finding your next mentor and your chances of learning are greatly improved among an actively engaged and like-minded crowd. Hands-on demos and workshops afford an opportunity to ask the questions you want to ask. Breaking out of your comfort zone, albeit in comfortable surrounds, engages different parts of our minds and that’s exactly what we sometimes need to break out of old ways of thinking and step into new ones. There are just so many reasons to attend Photoshop World, which I have personally experienced and benefited from, that I could make this list last forever, but ultimately, if you want to improve yourself, invest in yourself at Photoshop World!

Much love

Dave


Alright, which do you want first? 

The bad news? OK.

I had just boarded my flight to Minneapolis last week when I got a call from my editor at Rocky Nook to let me know that they received the first copies of The Landscape Photography Book and about 30% of the book had a serious printing issue. The company that printed the book admitted the mistake and agreed it was unacceptable, so this past weekend they were back on press reprinting the entire print over from scratch.

Unfortunately, (for my readers who pre-ordered the book, and my editors, and my publisher, and me) that means instead of the book being delivered to readers and bookstores this past week as expected, it will now be delayed a few more weeks as the books have to be bound, finished and shipped. Ugh. :(

Wow, that is bad news. What’s the good news?

Well, if there is a bright spot here, it’s that my publisher made the right call to have the book reprinted. Not every publisher would have done that because this is a decision that adversely affects their business, their author, and their relationships with the booksellers as well (especially seeing as this book had my biggest pre-sales numbers in years).

The folks at Rocky Nook felt that the printing for a photography book like this had to be “on the money” and I totally agree. They have always been absolutely committed to the reader, so I’m not surprised they made the call to pull all the copies already in print and go back to press. It’s one of the things that makes me proud to be one of their authors. My hats off to them.

So, to sum it all up:

The good news is — when you see The Landscape Photography Book, the printing will look great. The bad news is, we have to wait a bit longer to see it look great.  

Needless to say, I was (a) upset (b) heartbroken (c) upset and heartbroken, and just generally bummed out, but I would have been embarrassed to have delivered a book that didn’t live up our standards, so I understand and agree it’s the right call, even if it’s a painful one. 

Thanks everybody for your patience a few weeks more. Thanks to Rocky Nook for caring so much about our readers, and to the printer for owning up to the error.

Here’s to a week of better printing! :-)

-Scott


Greetings from 31,000 feet. I’m on my Delta flight home from Minneapolis, where this week between Indy and Minne I kicked off my new full-day seminar “The Ultimate Photography Crash Course” to more than 450 photographers (and some really incredibly nice folks. I love the Midwest!). I had such a great time, and I was thrilled at how well the new seminar was received.

I met so many great folks — people really into photography and Photoshop and Lightroom — my kinda folks. Thank you all for the warm welcome and gracious hospitality.

Yesterday I got to take a day off to go shooting

I spent the day with my new buddy, Minnesotan photographer Jay Grammond, and despite the cold (Brrrr!) and wind (Brrrrr!) and rain (Brrrr!), we still had a fun day shooting everything from the nation’s third-largest cathedral to the gorgeous Minnesota State Captial building; from a classic old research Library to just an incredible little chapel whose architecture was inspired by the Hagia Sofia Mosque (now a museum) in Istanbul, Turkey. Just amazing!

My Playpod sure got a workout that day, and nobody batted an eye at it. Security guard after a security guard saw me using it, and none of them ever said a word. I was able to put it in all sorts of places. Thanks, Jay for a really fun day! I haven’t had a chance to edit the images yet, but I’ll share ’em as soon as I get ’em done.

Had a great dinner with some friends from Adobe

A lot of Adobe’s Lightroom engineering folks are based in Minneapolis, and I had literally my best dinner of the year. The food was amazing and the company even better. Shout out to Jeff, Jon, and Julie — just awesome folks.

OK, we’ve been cleared for landing.

This weekend we’re having a graduation party for my son Jordan — super psyched about that! Gonna work a bit on my new book (it’s a natural light portrait book), and watch another big episode of Game of Thrones. It’s gonna be a great weekend! Hope yours is, too! Gotta run — wheels down, flaps down — it’s good to be home! :)

Cheers,

Scott


Making Beautiful Photo Books in Lightroom Classic with Scott Kelby

Get ready to fall in love with making photo books in Lightroom Classic! Join Scott Kelby for a close up look at what’s new, how to get started on the right foot, and how to make your photo book look amazing. Adobe has added new features to the Book module that take the experience of customizing a photo book to a whole new level. Whether you are making books for a gift, for sale, or for yourself, you will come away with the skills to create an absolutely beautiful book that will knock your socks off.



In Case You Missed It

Learn how to create beautiful wedding albums in Lightroom CC! Join Scott Kelby as he shares his favorite design tips, tricks, and techniques for creating wedding photo books with high impact. Scott takes you through the process, from beginning to end, showing you how to get started with your book, maximize the Lightroom interface for an efficient workflow, how to add photos, customize pages, work with text, and all the while sharing his insights into how to design your layouts like a pro. You’re going to fall in love with the process once you realize how much control you have over the design, and your clients will fall in love with your albums.

SHAKE IT UP!

Over and over again, we are told to create a personal style. As we find our personal style, it starts to become recognizable and that is fantastic. What do we do when the bookings start to come in more and more and the work starts to become, well…work? Many people relish this thought, but coming to terms with the reality of creating the same type of image day in and day out for clients can become a grind.

Several photographers whom I highly respect have had this happen to them in my chosen field of compositing. I find myself struggling with this as well. It can sometimes be a long slog for an image, sometimes up to 40 hours for some of my projects, and it’s not always easy to complete them in a timely manner. Your vision doesn’t always align with the client’s vision, and it can make for images you don’t always find to be your best work.

This composite was shot in two different states. My model Jason Barnes (who incidentally just landed the ‘Earth: Shot on iPhone’ campaign-look for his lizard photo on a billboard near you!) was photographed in San Antonio and the Venardos Circus tent was photographed in Florida. Then I had to rent a bicycle and overlay leaves.
Working time: 6 hours

Another possibility is you become restless in your creativity and want to try other things, but the time isn’t there because you’re creating work for other people and for goodness sake, you’re an artist! You need to experiment and ‘art!’

So, I’m encouraging you to shake it up! If you do epic composite work, try some natural light portraiture (terrifying to me, but I do it every once in awhile). If you make natural light photographs, push your boundaries and try a strobe. If you like landscapes, mix in a human. If you only shoot studio portraits, try some street photography.

Well over 8 hours of work as well as combing through countless stock photos to match what is on the pinball machine or what this performer uses in his magic performances. Take a look at the pinball machine image and we recreated it basically in this guy’s house. This is The Amazing Arthur. Omaha, Nebraska

Make a simple personal project. For you and only you. What would you like to create? Start doing that thing now. Do it little by little, so you are creating more of what you love. If there is any way that it will make you money in the future, fantastic. If it won’t, that is fine as well. This is for you. Your own personal creativity. Getting you out of the box of other people’s ideas or what other people expect you to post on IG. The expansion of your mind, your eye and possibly even create a new portfolio are great excuses to experiment while creating new content.

What I have been doing for the past several years is to shake up my composite work with portraits and environmental portraits with one or two strobes. Simple work with simple backgrounds, and the editing must be quick. It’s about the opposite of creating a composited image. For me it almost feels like I’m cheating. There is very little pre-planning, and I use some simple umbrella boxes I made that pack really small. For me it’s almost improv photography.

Two hours worth of work plus a photo shoot with the model and capturing the moon in my friend’s amazing telescope.
Model: Bethany Bond

Most of the time it is men I’m photographing for this respite from my work as they are so much easier to photograph for me. I am not trying to recreate the portrait world in these moments. I’m simply trying to capture a moment of time, a beautiful image, and their personality in one simple click of the shutter.

This work is faster, simpler, and different than what I am known for, and on Instagram it doesn’t get as much love most of the time. That’s okay! I’m completely fine with that because it makes me look more broadly at my photography. There is less PS in these images, but there is still some because I don’t feel any shot is complete straight out of camera. Some kind of dodging/burning, color correction, sharpening, etc. is usually needed.

Suggestions For A Photo Shake-Up

Here are some suggestions for you to shake up your photography and create something new:

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