Skip to main content

photo & video

Boudoir Photography

Lesson 16 of 28

Retouching: Longhand vs Actions Part 2

Rachel Stephens

Boudoir Photography

Rachel Stephens

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

16. Retouching: Longhand vs Actions Part 2

Lesson Info

Retouching: Longhand vs Actions Part 2

I'm gonna do my skin clean action, Which just gonna press play, cause I I work on a PC at home, so I'm messing up my function keys here. Okay, so right now what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna address the texture here. Sometimes you can you can play around on the texture layer and you can do a harder brush. So I just brought my brush up to make a harder brush. But I always always use a soft brush when I'm doing color. So I'm just going to keep making my brush smaller and larger as we go as I sample because I don't want Teoh smooth out all the texture. I just kind of want to smooth out the distracting texture that I'm finding. We kind of have a lot going on here, so I'm just gonna do little areas. You see the difference there. So we still have that. We still do have the texture, and we still do have, like, the color right there. But we're not. It's it's not so dominant in the image. Just want downplayed of it. So I'm gonna go ahead and run this again. And now I'm gonna work on my caller layer...

. And as you get comfortable with these texts techniques that it's it really goes by really fast. As I'm demonstrating and talking. Of course, that slows down the process. But, um, you can see how much faster using actions, Um, how much faster it is and I'm all about efficiency. I don't want to sit here and do it all longhand. While you know, my kids air moping in the back because they want to go the park. I want to be taken to park. I was gonna take care of this texture in here. Clean this up. She does have really nice skin. So we get to the smooth ings part. I probably won't do too much as I'm cleaning it here with this kind of skin you can get by just using the skin clean action and not having to do any kind of smoothing. So, um, you want you want to keep that in mind, Go out there and I'll just show you really quickly. You can also for this kind of stuff. I mentioned it yesterday, But if the spot healing tool remember, I said for like, little things, you can grab the spot hearing to let me just show you that real quick. And this works nicely as well for, like, these little dots. But this is the only time I ever use the spot healing brush. Otherwise, I'm like a patch tool girl. So you can see there's preserving realism. And I see ideo. I mean, I get into it with photo shop. You know, when I polish an image, I mean it. So it's all about keeping it, um, realistic. And of course, I want to be in and out so I can spend time with my family. But that does not mean that I'm gonna do a bad job and rush it. I will never rush my work. So giving that carry your client in their session and getting that care to you to your client in post it's important, and your client deserves it. Okay, so I am good right there. So what I'm gonna do is I'm just gonna take this back just a little bit so we can see where we started. We're just gonna go through the steps. So you see how subtle that iss. So even though when you go from here to here. You're like, Whoa. And then when we get to the end of the imagery like, Whoa, that's a lot. But as you see through the steps were not changing her. We're not changing who she is. You know, this is just all about polishing. This is the same thing that foundation does. Concealer. We're just lucky enough to be in a profession where we get to give this magic to them digitally. Okay, so I'm gonna go ahead and just pull back here, and I'm gonna go ahead. And is it okay if I use the skin? Clean action from you guys. Want to see it longhand again? We have I love Nina Campbell's as I've been trying and watching videos on frequency separation for weeks Never can get it to work. Thanks for sharing the basics. I think it might just work for me next time. So I think we're going to get sweets. Okay, Good. Go ahead. Thank you. And Angie says I totally understand why she made actions for what she does. This is a very labor intensive thinking on that's was about but good to have the info for yes, because I might get cranky if I have to keep doing it, Just the new ones. Okay, Cool. Okay, so there's this was kind of making a harsh line. And the reason for that is because I have my clone stamp tool, but it's right now. I didn't change it back to a soft brush. So remember I said on color, I'm always keep my brush on soft. I still had it on a hard brush from my texture layer. So, like I said, it's always user error when it's not working the way you want it. So just one of my favorite sayings is K. I s s keep it simple, stupid. So you if something's not working, is it plugged in? Always check for the basic thing. First, I was gonna clean up this little area here. So this is the actual technique that's used for, um, high end pro beauty retouching. And like I said yesterday, this, um, you know, they I had There's artists that I love their work and I look at an image and I'm like, Oh, my goodness, how they do that. And then you you, you know well, that took me 4.5 hours on a portrait of a face, which is admirable. Absolutely. But I don't have four hours to spend on an image. So I'm just gonna go in down here and clean up down here a bit clean and cleaning, Still cleaning about right there. And now I'm going to go in, and I'm gonna clean on the texture layer and just the little areas that I kind of want to smooth down a bit. So I may clean the face a little bit more on her, um, and then not do any skin smoothing it all on her face. But I may do a skin smoothing on her body, and we'll see. We'll see how that looks if it balances. I reckon it will kind of not my first rodeo. Okay. And again, you know, as your as your going and you got your hot keys and you just f six f six. This goes really fast. So, you know, I don't want anyone to feel like Oh, jeez, that takes forever. I don't want to do that. Like I said before, I don't spend more than 10 minutes on an image. Oops. Okay, so let me just look in here. real quick. I think I'm just gonna do a little bit of work right in here. It just kind of wanna bring some more color balance in around here and just around lips. And I'm gonna go ahead and do the oap a city here. See where I like that. I don't want it too high because I don't want Teoh get rid of the, um, the shadows, which would destroy the natural curves in her face. So I'm just gonna touch up around here a little bit here. Kind of hard to see every time I sample that thing comes up, okay, Just around the shin area around here, under the lip. I'm just going Teoh, check the okay city here so you can see it's super subtle. I'm gonna keep this on the high end, and then I'm just gonna go ahead and I'm gonna grab my spot healing tool again. And this work over here a little bit, and I'm not looking for absolute perfect flawless skin. I mean, if you're like a baby, you have perfect flawless skin. But we don't want to be absolutely not really looking. Okay, so I'm gonna go ahead and, um I'm gonna touch up the makeup a little bit in here. I'm gonna see which way I want to do that. Let's do that by duplicating a layer and let's multiply it and let's go ahead and mask that out. So I'm going to grab a brush and bring it down. I'm gonna go about 50%. And I'm just going to kind of fill in the eyeliner here, right along the lashes with with a small brush and I'm going to do a bigger brush. And I'm just gonna kind of dab and spot to fill because we don't want to Defined of a line. We want to kind of preserve that kind of smoky blend with the makeup. I'm doing this longhand, but I have an entire makeup kit set in my action so you guys don't have toe figure out how to do it if you don't want to. I'm just stretching a little Like what? One? Our chicken. Because now I'm into it. I don't want to stop, but we will start for questions in a little bit. So just filling that in and then into a bigger brush and again, Dad, because her face is turned a little bit sometimes because I shoot wide open, that side will be a little more blurry. That kind of stuff doesn't bother me. And because I shoot wide open, I don't always get tax sharp images. That doesn't bother me either. Like I don't need it to be super tack sharp. We go closer. So you guys, you see that? So it just kind of defines the I'm. Or then I'm gonna go in here just these little just a few little things, but I'm gonna take care of with my handy dandy patch tool. So when you're patching an area that has an edge like an eyebrow or maybe like the side of the face, you want to grab above and below that edge and sample over, Otherwise it's gonna just be a blurry mess. It's gonna clean that little guy right there. Okay. And there's just this little hair here that's bugging me, so I'm gonna get rid of that, too. Use my patch tool and again I'm gonna go over the edge on both sides. And when I'm still doing my selection, I'm trying to make the selection the shape of what I want to cover. It's gonna go in here and as far as like, stray hair goes unless it's like, really crazy. Like like a a real big twang hanging out. I don't I don't feel the need with, you know, to make it like, perfect and get all the straight edges like you see in, like, glamour magazine. Like I don't look like that when I ever I always see a little bit of hair. You know, to me, it just looks a little weird. I mean, I can appreciate it artistically for when people do those really incredible retouched beauty Portrait's. But for a boudoir, I don't do that. Okay, so now we're going to go ahead and we're gonna, um, smooth the skin a little bit. I'm just gonna manipulate this just a little bit down here. And you have to be careful, because when you have patterns in like the lingerie, that can start to be difficult. When you start, Teoh manipulate. So you want to be really careful? So let's just let's play around just a little bit and see how it looks. If we pull from this side and over, this might totally suck, but we'll see what happens better to me, That doesn't look like it's not riel. I mean, I know that the bend of her arms right here. But this right here is distracting me. And because I'm limited in terms of what I can do to manipulate this, I'm just gonna do this. It still doesn't really change the shape of her arm. It just makes the lines more fluid. So now that I'm not, I'm not my I what I want. When someone looks at a portrait, I want their eyes to go right to the eyes in the image of the eyes to catch him and then the eyes to trail down the rest of the body. I don't want there to be eyes and then this over here. So that's why it's so important to remove distraction in an image. Okay, so as far as the skin goes here, we're gonna go ahead. I'm just gonna patched Tool, that little bugger and we're gonna go ahead and we're gonna smooth skin. So I'm gonna show you how I do that. Let's get rid of this little I hooked to. That's bugging me. Okay, Okay. I think I need to do a little stretch. Does anyone have any questions? Go ahead and stretch all the way. Do have a question from John Cornyn Cello? Sure video using an export instead of editing. Is that because you're going to a different size psd you being when export out? Like yeah, Uhm, I'm going from raw to PST right now. You're doing an export instead of just added in from like, Oh, I see what you mean. Yeah, I keep all my files, my raw files just in their folder. So when I'm done doing my adjustments because I like to kind of take it to one place where it kind of flatten things out a little bit when you're in working in your, um your raw files and, you know, getting that contrast and playing with blacks and stuff inside light room or camera raw. Then you're also killed. The more you have contrast or blacks in your image the more like, especially if someone has light brown eyes or blue eyes. Your your toning down those colors. So we want to kind of keep the colors. We keep those kind of tones flat, then you preserve the color. So then I can I know that I can take care of my contrast and adding more dark in and Photoshopped, But I can still just kind of mask away and keep that original color. That's personally how I like to do it, Um, And then, if anything happens that say, for example, the client sees the image and she just really wanted all the rows Asia there, then all I have to do is go to my raw file, pull it, lay it over and then blend it in. Just a quick question for you, Rachel from Reds Smile. Is there a different process when you're turning a photo into black and white? Um, from sort of the process that you go through? Well, of course, I'll polish it all the way to the end and color, and then we'll clients when they see their images, they see everything color and black and white. But when I'm I have just like a kind of go to basic default black and white action that I use. But when they choose the black and white like you guys can see the black and whites on the wall, I I like Teoh make it a little bit more intense and bold and striking. So I do have one client orders a black and white image. I do kind of have a few different techniques that I'm happy to show you guys. Once we get to the end of the image just behind me, I'm sure I'll forget. Okay. Keller first and then black and white. Yep. Process. And with this image, some Hey, Jude was no saying that the necklace is a little bit off center. Does that bother you at all? And if so, would you fix that or just use a different image entirely? It doesn't bother me. I mean, I'm not shooting for Cosmo, So you know, if if a client wants it moved, Aiken, see what that's going to entail. If it's really if it is there really hating it, um, then all suggest they order a different image. Yeah, but you know, when they have necklaces on, if you guys remember when we were shooting or asked is a sentimental to you, just like, Well, I really love it. So then you know you're letting them. They know they're wearing it when they're moving around, it's gonna move. So I kind of see it, you know, not to sound crass, but I don't really kind of like a not my problem problem if it's moved. If you'd like the image order, it means, you know, I don't think it would. To me, it's not ruining the image.

Class Description

Becoming a successful boudoir photographer is all about making your client feel confident and beautiful. How else can you expect them to relax, overcome any shyness about their body, and follow your specific posing directions? Boudoir photography is a delicate, intimate art that takes time to hone. Join Rachel Stephens for a three-day course that will cover everything from gear to lighting to posing — and show you how to build a thriving boudoir business in any market.

Drawing on over a decade of experience as a boudoir photographer, Rachel will share the shooting, marketing, and communication techniques that she used to to build a luxury boudoir business from scratch. Rachel will start by showing you step-by-step how to create an amazing high-end experience for your client — from the first contact to the final portfolio. Rachel will also arm you with a plan to efficiently scale your customer service into a national outreach program including strategic multi-city tours.

If you are new to boudoir photography, or want to learn how to make an existing glamour or boudoir business thrive, you won’t want to miss this hands-on, comprehensive course.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Client Policy

Example: 2 Day Schedule

Lightroom Presets

Lightroom Presets Installation Instructions

Client Session Information

Full Edit & Longhand Retouch Partt 1

Full Edit & Longhand Retouch Part 2

Full Edit & Longhand Retouch Part 3

Longhand Retouch Part 1

Longhand Retouch Part 2


Facebook Ad Creation

Full Edit in Lightroom

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


a Creativelive Student

Let me first start off by saying that Rachel puts her subject first. She has a passion for empowering the everyday woman, showing them that Boudoir photography by no means only belongs to the "supermodels". She shows them that they're amazing and beautiful, and it was so comforting and heartwarming to see this in action in her Creative Live course! When Rachel's shooting with a client it's almost like no-one's in the room but the two of them. Rachel gives her undivided attention to the client's safety and well-being and general comfort. I was so glad I tuned in for the course as I learnt countless tips and techniques about lighting, angles, posing, different settings for the different types of shots you'd want to grab. Another reason that watching the class was such a pleasure for me is that Rachel comes across as that awesome, down to earth, lovely friend you might have in your life, who just happens to be one of the BEST Boudoir photogs on the planet! This was an excellent workshop, top to bottom, and I'd recommend purchasing it to anyone who wants to learn everything about this type of photography, including the business side of things which her husband, Sean, explained thoroughly. I have absolutely no idea what a couple reviewers were "disappointed with" but take it from me - this is a STELLAR course and if you're looking to get into the business, or just even honing your skills on photographing the ladies, this is most definitely the course for you! Tons of info - great guidelines on how to handle your models, great info on lighting, lenses and settings! Rachel will make you fall in love with Boudoir photography like your life depended on it! She's just THAT good! So go on, purchase the course and have her invaluable instruction at your fingertips whenever you need it!


I mainly photograph landscapes but I'm interested in learning other types of photography. Being introverted it's a challenge for me to photograph people but I it's a barrier I want to get over. I purchased this course and some others on portraiture and boudoir photography. While Rachel and her husband aren't polished speakers I thought they were honest and straightforward. The "clients" being photographed seemed a bit nervous but I imagine that had a lot to do with the fact they were doing the boudoir session live in front of thousands if not millions of viewers. Rachel also had to keep in mind she was tethered and the recording of the session while photographing her client so I don't think this was optimal and Rachel's back began to bother her so I'm sure she was in some physical pain. Regardless, the resulting pictures were beautiful so Rachel was able to make her clients feel "safe" enough to get through the session. Also it seems part of the audience were women who had been photographed by Rachael so it says something that they came to learn from and support Rachel. I appreciated Rachel was photographing real women, not models. What I liked most about this course is it made me feel like little 'ol ordinary me could be a boudoir photographer too If I am ever inclined to do so. Her style of photography isn't quite mine, but the session was still useful and instructive especially with regard to her lighting set up. I wish Rachel had talked a bit more about setting up the support team that goes around with her like her make up and hair artists, how she finds and decides on houses to rent and what cities she goes to, etc. but I guess you can't go over every single thing in a single course or maybe that can be a future course. Rachel and her husband seemed like a nice down to earth couple who put their family first and they were quite honest about some of the difficulties and their concerns over safety for themselves and their clients. I was touched that Rachel photographs women who have gone through cancer treatment for free as I do volunteer work in a hospital. I thought the bonus and included materials which had Rachel's Lightroom presets and her client info packet was very generous. Some of the other photographers charge for getting a copy of their client documents and presets. I purchased Rachel's eBook off Amazon and wanted to purchase Rachel's Photoshop actions but in searching for the purchase links I read Rachel is going through some health issues, I think it was spinal fusion, and it seems has suspended her business until she recovers. It looks like she plans to still make her "return" sessions starting with Hawaii during April 2017. I wish her and her family the best and will say a prayer for her quick and complete recovery. Thank you Rachel and Sean for coming to Creative Live and I hope you will teach another class or at least participate in a critique of boudoir photographs.


Warning: You are about to encounter a large number of exclamation points. ;-) This was such a great course! It was great to learn boudoir with such a caring, generous, and knowledgeable pair! Rachel really brought it with her posing, shooting, and building rapport with her clients. She even kept going while in intense pain! Also, the sections on retouching were EXCELLENT! I had trouble following the first retouching segment where she used her actions, but then she came back to retouching later and showed us how to do each step "longhand". Knowing what each action is designed for makes such a difference! I feel like Rachel read the audience and saw that we were floundering, and tailored her presentation to just what we needed! Sean was also very thorough in his presentation of the "business" side. It is hard, as an artist, for me to run my business like a business. Sean showed how it can be done. He also showed the need for a strong "why" to focus on when telling others about policies. "It's a business. I need to feed my kids." I need to reach down and find my "why" that will keep me strong enough to stand behind my policies and pricing. I haven't gotten a chance to sit down and go through all of the bonus materials yet, but I am so excited to see what's in there! I saw that Rachel had posted a longhand version of the "little hug," and I watched it, and I have been trying it out on some of my older images. Just that one little tweak makes such a difference! Thank you, Rachel and Sean, for giving us SO MUCH usable content! I'm so glad I decided to watch and then purchase this course! And I can't wait to see the two of you again for your next creativeLIVE!