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Capturing Authentic Photos of Children & Families

Lesson 18 of 19

Photoshop and Lightroom Processing & Workflow

Chris Orwig

Capturing Authentic Photos of Children & Families

Chris Orwig

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Lesson Info

18. Photoshop and Lightroom Processing & Workflow

Lesson Info

Photoshop and Lightroom Processing & Workflow

I'm in Bridge just because I have a couple images I want to show here. I'll show Lightroom as well. The reason I want to show here, I just grabbed one of these from the one with my mom to talk about what I might do with a photograph like this. And Jim, can you help me out real quick? Does the audience at home see a screen this bright or do they see a screen like mine? They're seeing, what they're seeing is beginning of Ped. But it comes from yours, but it looks different from this. Is it bright or dark? It's calibrated for our cameras. Okay, well what I'll do is I'm gonna try to do it for, in the middle what I see is much darker. This is a lot brighter and a lot more saturated. But let's just work with what we have. You're gonna color-correct based on your screen in front of you. Okay, that's what I need. Don't worry about this monitor here at all. And then just to do this, I'm gonna say, let me just, hang on for a second. This is really over-exaggerated. Aw, turn that ...

off. I'm in Camera Raw things. That's kind of what I see on my monitor, just so you guys know, and then this is what you're seeing. Does that make sense? So just keep that in mind that it's a little bit different. It's no biggie. So with this photograph of Mom, you notice that I had a lot of head room, thanks man, in the shots. And I'm shooting with the 50. And so I actually don't like vertical images to be so long and tall because our world has a lot of times gone horizontal. So with most of my, oops, I forgot I'm in Camera Raw here. But with most of my verticals, I take some of the height out of them. This one I'm gonna take a lot out of it. The reason is is now it's a little bit more, sorry, I'm like mixing up my Lightroom and my shortcuts. It's a little bit more about her there. Then I would drop drop it down and again, well, you guys just imagine you're seeing what I'm seeing. It looks too bright there for me. This is so confusing to me. Who do I pay attention to, the people at home or you guys? I'm just gonna cheat for a second. Imagine it's a little bit darker a little bit more contrast. Anyway, at home you can hopefully see this. It's dark, it's moody, there's good contrast. So all I'm doing is touching the contrast, cropping it. And then when there's a big thing like that over there where I have a backdrop issue, we could try to deal with that inside of Lightroom or Camera Raw, but it's so much easier to do it here. And so with big areas, you can make a selection. If you're on the background layer, you hit delete, which opens up Content Aware. And then basically it will fill over that area with good background. So it's making a selection over a problem and then opening up Content Aware to fix that. You can also do that on a separate layer. So I could duplicate this layer. And I'll do this time with the lasso tool, because maybe your shape isn't a perfect edge of a b-flat. And then this time you go to Edit and you choose Fill. Choose Content Aware and it does that same thing. So that's just a really good trick to know when you have background issues. Lastly what we could do is if I want this to be maybe a little bit more of a square, with the crop tool, there's something called Content Aware Cropping. And basically what that means is if I drag this crop out here, past the sides of my canvas, so you can see my mom's kind of centered, like I'm going for a square and there's nothing over there, it's gonna invent content by analyzing what's in the surrounding area. Because I have an even-toned background, I'm able to just basically create more background. So the only reason I'm showing that is that it's kind of a nice tip when you have more of a clean situation. Are all family and kids like this? No, maybe it's a brick wall, it'd still work. Maybe it's that painter drop cloth that it could work. It's a little more complicated because we have shadows and lines, but it's nice to know. And I wouldn't need to do a lot with Mom here. I think as far as processing, I'm done. Because we have nice light. And again, this is just for the audience in here, I'm gonna try to simulate, it's near impossible to simulate what it is. It looks more like this, not quite so saturated. Does that look kind of nice to you guys? At home you're gonna say, "That looks horrible." Anyway, you kind of get the idea, don't you? Okay, let's keep going. So there's Mom, and that was fun to have her here with my (mumbles). Let's hit Lightroom. Oh wait, take that back. I wanna do one more thing. This is, I just want to show a little bit of workflow from this image that we looked at in the class a number of times because I showed it so much I thought it would be worthwhile. So if I remove the settings, you can see how this was a capture. And I was underexposed, unfortunately. And you saw that basically what I did here was Exposure up, Contrast up, Shadows up. So it's not rocket science. When you're shooting into the sun, it's hard to nail the exposure because you're catching some of the light, not too much of the light, and you're moving your lens around in order to figure out how much of the spill of the light is coming into the frame. Typically you need to overexpose way more than you would think. I didn't nail it on this one, so I had to just bring up that, this, and then something like that. And that's first step for this one. The second step for this one was I went to Photoshop and zoom in as well, so you can see what's happening here. And just a couple layers. I want to get rid of all those people in the background. Let me zoom in. You see our little beach people. And all this is is a new layer. And I'm grabbing a tool. I know some people this is gonna be a little redundant, but some people this is new, so let me show it. I'm grabbing a tool like the healing brush or the clone stamp tool, and I'm just painting over the problem area. And what that's allowing me to do is kind of go piece-by-piece, bringing good content over bad content, and then eventually get to something like this where I have less people there. And the only reason this image, I feel like that was helpful is because I liked it so much. And that's where it goes back to you've gotta photograph stuff you love. I love this family, I love this beach, I love this moment. So that, I'm not like, well, I should probably do Photoshop. It's like oh my gosh, I can't wait to do Photoshop. Maybe backs that honey analogy. Oh, that one didn't really work, did it? But it's like oh my gosh, I love this. This is not a problem right now, this is a joy. And then from there, the family was still a little dark. So what I'm doing in this case is a really slight curve adjustment. I don't think I have anything else yet. Which means I have this little curve. I bring this up, you know, brighten it up, and I have a mask. And so the mask is saying rather than everywhere, I just want it on the people. And so I have that there. And then I created another version of that with a little more warmth. Can you see how there's some red coming into that area as well? I can't necessarily teach all the ins and outs of Photoshop right now. You're gonna notice this segment is a little bit more of a survey, which hopefully triggers you to say, oh yeah, I want to spend some time taking a Photoshop class. And there's a lot in the catalog, right Jim? I mean, there's a lot on Photoshop and Lightroom we can do. There's a ton of it. We have bootcamps, 30 days-- Photoshop weeks. And you're gonna show a lot of Lightroom, as well, correct? I am, yes, I'll show Lightroom. Great, cool. But is that helpful, to see kind of at least a couple of those? All right, let's hit Lightroom. So let's go to that family and if we go to the family shoot, let me arrange my monitor here a little bit so it's a touch better. If we go to that family shoot, almost there, the first few shots, I was just trying to do something, like get connected with the family. I don't know, it was a hard moment for me. Getting the mom in there, like this kind of stuff was great. My exposure, and I'm not actually even super sharp yet. I think this is the first one that I get where it's there. I like a lot of the elements of this shot. And so when I get to an image where I like it, I typically will mark it with a star or a flag or something and then keep going. And then I'll come back and do post-production. Otherwise, you never get through the images. And let's say, so I've started this one. And just for the sake of speed, I'm now coming back to it. And I say what do I do? Well, cropping for me is really important. And so I need to crop in. So I press the R key in Lightroom and I'm just bringing in my crop there. And the family is starting to fill the frame. When you have something in the frame, isn't that better all of a sudden? If the, remember the girl in the leaves laying down? And the leaves are filling the frame? Just outside of the frame there's bare patches of grass, because there really weren't that many trees. But your imagination says there's leaves everywhere, and they just go on and on and on forever. So while the family doesn't go on and on, they're filling it up, and it just has this full feeling right to the edge. And that's what I'm going for here. This one, I want to go black and white, so I hit V. And V, I think V for victory. That gives you a quick black and white view. You can see I have, let me just reset this here, too. Let me reset all this stuff. Let me go back to that. I had already had Auto turned on. So this is the RAW capture. Then I hit Auto. I don't always hit Auto. But sometimes I'll hit it just to see if it does anything good. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it's a nice little starting point and say oh yeah, that's kind of cool. And maybe I'll fine-tune some of my sliders and do that. I think this color works in color. If it did, though, I would need to warm it up a little bit. Here's a great tip. With this slider, if I drag it, notice how it's like pretty dramatic? And I think it's like really slippery. But if you just hover over it and use your arrow keys, well, my computer isn't really responding. Let's see, there we go. See how it's going up in 50 increments? 400 and 450, 500. What that's doing is it's warming it up just subtly. I like to do that sometimes, so I'm just like tap, a little warmth on it. It's cool, it's overcast. That means everything is cool. I have a little bit of warmth there like that. Next, after doing that, I need to do some work on detail. And let me just reset this. And what that means is sharpening and noise reduction. Almost every digital file needs some kind of noise reduction. So I just hit a little bit of Luminance noise reduction and a little bit of Color. Am I totally getting into all of the details of this? Not necessarily, but I'm just gonna say quickly sharpening, detail slider, that goes low for people, high for landscapes or concrete walls. Is this too fast in Lightroom? Is this good in Lightroom? Is this interesting in Lightroom? Jim, what do you think? I'm liking it Chris. Hey, we have a question from Laurie who would like to know when you're doing your cropping, what dimensions do you usually deliver to clients? Yeah, that's a great question. Usually I like to keep them pretty true to the aspect ratio of what they were. We saw that one family where I broke that, I turned it into a square. We also saw sometimes I like to take off my verticals at the top of my verticals. It depends on the client a little bit. If I know they're really into 8 x 10s and 4 x 6s, I'll hit that because I know that's what they want to print, or they're gonna go a different size. If they're a little bit more loose, then I'll be a little bit more loose. Thank you. I flex. All right, so funny thing is, at least for me, it's not rocket science, right? So I did a little base panel, did a little sharpening. The only problem for me with the picture, and I'll do some black and white, is the kid's hand right here, kind of coming out of the leg. (people laughing) It just like, I looked at it, I was like, where is it coming from? You know, I saw it was weird. And so I have to go to Photoshop to fix that. And the bridge in the background isn't really doing a lot. And so I think I'm going to get rid of it, too. Even though it was there, they won't really know one way or the other. I'm just at such a low F-stop, it kind of becomes, I don't think it's adding to the picture. So I would get rid of that, too. So I'm going to hit Photoshop by going Command-E or Control-E if you're on Windows. And that will send the image over there. And I think of any time I need to do something specific or particular or a little bit more detailed, that's where you hit Photoshop. And this one, new layer. You can create a new layer, Shift-Command-N or Shift-Control-N or just click the New Layer icon. And then hit the easy stuff first. I love that guy, look at him, he's like ah! And then here, I don't think I'm going to retouch this whole thing away. But you could use a clone stamp tool or healing brush and basically you sample an area, and I think we've all seen stuff like this, and you start to remove objects. So you guys are with me on that. I don't need to get the whole bridge out. But that's how I get the hand, though. It's a little more tricky, right? And what you want to do with something like that is, let me make sure we can still see the kid right there, because, ah, is you sample and you want to have something that's similar. So you kinda see like I'm pulling from here and I'm going left to right. It's okay if it isn't really exact as I'm going, 'cause I'm going back and forth kind of sampling. And I would just do this a bunch of times till I get to the edge, make the brush nice and small in there. Make sure I'm sampling from nearby content. And then I would need to get really detailed with how I work on this little edge here. And I'm just gonna do a touch of that. I didn't get it all out. I could get it all out and zoom in, but enough for you guys to get the concept, right? And that does actually make for a better photograph in this case because you could just assume his hand is on the back of the tree and holding it there. And then I think this one is really all about Quinn in the middle and having some fun with that there. If I wanted to experiment a little bit with doing some other stuff, one of the ways that I'll have fun with color is with Nik Color Efex Pro. These are all free plugins. And this one has the ability to just test out different color ideas. Of course you can do your color a million ways. Let me just show you this one briefly, because it's one that time I'll use. And my computer's kind of acting a little weird. But in this one, what I'm in right now is something called Cross Processing, so you can kind of choose different things here. And with Cross Processing you can then select different looks. And if I choose a look I can then dial in the intensity of it, how much I want to go. And just see if I have one that looks cool. Maybe like that, kind of has a little bit of a warmy, little bit of a yellow-blue. I don't know if you guys can even see that from that far away, but let me just exaggerate and be way too high and click OK, and then we'll look at how we can take that back. Other tools that I'll use for color are curves, color balance, filters, presets in Lightroom. That whole world, I mean I think I've taught a whole 10-hour course on just color in Photoshop. So I'm skimming. But I'm skimming as a way to get you thinking about options. So this one, maybe I just want a little touch of that. And from here, I just now have a little bit of that warmth where it creates that aesthetic. And I'm done. So I'll save that one out and close it. That will bring me back to Lightroom with that file over there in that application. If I wanted to go black and white with the shot, let's see here. There's something called virtual copies in Lightroom which allow you to create a copy of the image so you can have multiple iterations of it or versions. So this one, I'll go back to that V for victory for black and white. And whenever I have people in black and white pictures, I go to the black and white panel and I make sure my reds and oranges are not low. That looks horrible. The opposite's gonna happen if I bring these up. It's a way to retouch skin without retouching skin, 'cause what that's doing is it's adding brightness to skin tones. Most skin types have a lot of red and orange in that, and there's also a lot of noise in those channels. So just knocking those up a little bit can add sort of a glow to the skin, which I just tend to like. And then of course we could go back into the basic panel and then add a little bit more to kind of punch and snap and even a touch of clarity, which gives the image the extra little bit of a look. So that would be a typical black and white workflow if I were doing that with a file from Photoshop, or maybe one just from Lightroom. Yeah, Tony, question? So when you see white, you use Silver Efex Pro? Do you apply that to all the images or do you just do that on selects? What do you show the client and what do you do? That is a super good question is showing them a cohesive set of photographs. And it also goes to your question about you have images in all this different light. I just make sure that the groups of images, so like if I applied it to one of those tree shots, I probably need to apply it to all of them. But I don't necessarily need to apply it to the shots where it's backlit, because that's gonna give me a little bit of a different color palette. But do I want to go from like Instagrammy cross-processed vintage to not, no. I try to stay away from that and make it, and that's where creating the sets and all that of images. That's a good question. But then, I occasionally break that rule. Sometimes I'll find an image where I'm like, oh this just looks cool this way. And so I'll do that. What about you Tony, what do you do? I was asking that question because I just did a little engagement shoot for a friend. Yeah, and how'd you do it? I'm having trouble, because I scan my own film. The scans are all a little bit off. And then I had trouble making them cohesive. So I was wondering if I make some of them look good and then some of them just look not as good, then if I deliver that, is that weird? And what do you think? I guess it just depends, you're saying it depends on the client, I guess? Yeah, and what are you gonna do, you think? I think I'm gonna try to balance them so. Tony's an amazing photographer and cinematographer, too. All right, so let me just go through some of these and see if I can't find another example. Let's see this one here. Kid jumping. And I'm not, also hopefully you'll get my vibe that all this stuff I'm showing isn't to show you how great I am or something, but it's to show you how do we go from mediocre to something more. And I miss a lot of shots as part of it. So this shot, it's underexposed. I would hit Auto, just to see if I could give me a little more boost in that. Remember I talked about vignetting? Because of the type of light, I have a little of that vignetting. That basically means this corner down here has this darkness to it. One of the things I do, which I didn't mention, is I will batch process, which means you select a bunch of images and you turn on something called Auto Sync. And I will apply a profile and a profile correction to all the images across the board. And that basically deals with any odd lens issues, vignetting, a little bit of distortion if it needs correction. So that is something that I'm going to do globally. Or, what happened in this shoot, I guess why I kind of came to this is I didn't see the vignetting until I got here, as I was working on the images yesterday. And I thought oh shoot, I need to do the whole thing, make sure they all have a good profile, and then I kept working from there. So I do that and then from here, inside of the Basic panel, I have that Auto Tone as a good starting point. And then I'm just sort of thinking stylistically how do I want to do this. The shoot was really cold. It didn't translate in the film, but we are freezing and it was raining. And so I know with cold, overcast, and gray, if we go yellow, it can actually almost feel like sunset. So I, with these type of images, I would warm them up quite a bit. And let me just exaggerate to make this look horrible for a second. When you go too high with that, you may need to come down and just take your vibrance down, which will take the most saturated colors and drop those back. You see how I sort of saved that, even though it was an exaggeration? So normally I would say warm it up a little bit, 'cause I want this overall golden glow. But then there's the colors that are sort of peaking, the reds and oranges, skin tones, things like that, and so vibrance is going to help save those. So that's gonna be my one, two approach, not quite so dramatic as we did here. But I definitely know I want to warm these images up. And just be careful that I'm not, it's sort of you want to be careful that you're not muddying them up with your color temperature. But it just kind adding a little bit there. Question? Yeah, when you're color correcting, and I see it looks like you're just doing it by eye, what looks good to you. You're not really paying attention to histograms or anything. Like some of your highlights were blown in sunsets right when you're backlighting. You're not worried about any of that which is, I'm guessing, that's one question. Are you worried about any of that? And then, too, is when you're looking at it, I always worry about differences in screens, if I'm doing digital versus print, and worry about the shadows and light. Yeah, so getting kind of in the specifics of all that. So one, calibrating your monitor and all those kind of things, which I know there are courses about. That's really important, of course. And that's one of the reasons why doing printing, because there's a difference between illuminated screen and printing and getting familiar with that. And so if you're printing for your clients, you're always thinking about your own print company and how the images will look. So considering all of that and kind of creating a system. There is a science to the system. But I've found with everyone who's even an expert in that space, there's also a little bit of guesswork. And what that means is as far as artifact uprising, they tend to have their reds and oranges go too high for me. Other print companies I've used don't. And so I now know that. And so then I actually uncomfortably desaturate my reds and oranges, but it makes that print look good. So if I'm giving the client that, or if I know the client might use that, that's where I lean. So it's contextual, if that makes sense. But it's really good to think about, as far as how that goes. There are also clients who are 100% digital, meaning they're not gonna print at all, and they just want digital files, and they're gonna post them that way and share them. And in that case, then I do lean a little bit more towards the screen. And I just double check. I email them to myself and look at them on my phone. I look at them on my wife's computer, on mine, and just broaden my perspective, so I'm not, you know, overly skewed one way. So Quinn was this fun wild spirit. So I get his mom to hold him, trying to connect with her. I wish I could show you guys all of these photographs, because you would crack up. There are some really fun ones. And so far, I'm not there, but you kind of get how I'm trying to get there. What if you lean against your mom? And then of course the next, it's like that to that. That's Quinn right there for us. And then what if you give him a kiss, and I like this. He kind of starts to soften and then he just grabs his mom, smooshes him into her, and then gives her a kiss. Okay, this is all happening, smashes her face like that. And then maybe we say this might be a fun shot here. And this might be a fun shot because of the shadow issue that you were mentioning earlier of the shadows that we can see around the eyes. So we find an image again that we want to work on. I'm just going to reset the image from scratch so that we go through the workflow a little bit again here. What that means is I've now turned on Profile Correction. My exposure was a little bit low in most of these shots. I was trying not to blow out the sky because it's white. And I know with the camera that I used, I can actually take my shadows up really far. So I'm just going to brighten, contrast, and things like that. I'm not going to try to do like a hero edit on this image, but I am going to show you one important thing. I'm cropping it, trying to find the right moment. Mom connected to the camera, little Quinn smashing his, you know, fun little kiss. So I hit Photoshop for this one. Shortcut for that is Command plus the letter, anyone know that? E, E. So I exit out of it. Think of E for exit. So we exit out of Lightroom, because this kind of detail work you just can't do by yourself here. Photo comes in, I've gotta get close. And this isn't about the mom, this is about the type of light we have. It's really, really bright overhead. It's soft, but it's gonna get caught in shadows underneath. So new layer, and I'm gonna grab a tool like a healing brush. And healing brush fine over here. Change our brush size, tons of ways to do that. Bracket keys one way. So I just make the brush smaller. Option or Alt, click underneath the eyes there. This will look a little bit weird at first, but just give me a second. And so I basically am healing away that shadow. And then I'll decrease its opacity. I need to make my brush a little bit smaller. Probably should zoom in a touch more, but you're getting the vibe. And I'm gonna do this on both sides to be quick. I'm not totally concerned about how it looks initially because, except I'm trying to hide any repeating pattern, because with stuff like this, I'm gonna have to take a two-step approach. One step is just what happens if that goes out. Next, what if I just take it back? Because you can't obliterate shape altogether. So I need a little bit of that in there. And then this one is going to be a teaser for more advanced folks, which is we have this shadow right here, and we have the color that's a problem. So more advanced folks, Curves, if you've never used it, it's good to know it exists. I can go into a channel in a curve and say I'm gonna make something a little more red. I'm gonna go in the blue channel, drag down, make something a little more yellow. I don't know if I'm getting it right, it's okay. RGB, that's the one where you just change overall brightness and different things. So when I do that, it's affecting everything, which isn't what I want. Go to the Mask tab, hit Invert. Jim, you didn't know we were going into Photoshop this much, did you? I love the Photoshop. So then I'm on my little mask. And what I want to do is I'm gonna need to work on the color, but it doesn't really matter. I'm just gonna start to paint over these little shadows here. It's looking way too red to me, but too yellow to you. And I'm trying to get into my little shadows that are deep and dark. And basically, you kind of see it where I'm starting at, how I'm starting to get into those? And what they need is more yellow. I need to go to this blue channel. I get a little more yellow. I need to take out some of that red. So I'm bringing that point down a little bit. And there's just something kind of funky about the overall. Oh I know, I should just lift up my shadow point here a little bit. And this is not a perfect edit. I would probably need to perfect this a little bit more. This is more of a concept edit. And you get the concept, two steps? One, okay, let's take that down. But then once you take something down in one area, all of a sudden you notice like, oh, there's actually a shadow over there, too. And that's the nature of retouching. It helps you reveal things. I never would have noticed that. And then I'm going to employ some other techniques which might help me. Does Mom look a little better there? Yeah, and if I'm gonna retouch that, I probably should retouch a couple of these little spots and wrinkles up here with a spot healing tool, as well. I don't think we totally need to see all of that, but just to at least show you a little bit. All that that means is that this kind of stuff, I'm gonna hit. And I have this on a layer, so if I take too much of it away I can always decrease the opacity of this and just make this a little bit more subtle. These kind of things you don't see in real life. You would never notice any of this stuff. But we're just noticing it because we're in a photograph kind of like this. Would I do this to each and every shot of the family? Probably not. Would I do it to some images that I think they might actually keep, yeah. I just want to keep her, I'm kind of on the fence about it. But it was a good demo file at least. Yeah, Bill? I just wanted to ask you about workflow maybe, kind of obviously from the files I saw you were in Bridge. You brought it into Lightroom and now working in Photoshop. So all the way out to your finished file that you put in (mumbles). So yeah, workflow, which is a great question. So workflow for me is you have the images off the card. I use Lightroom to import them. And on that import, I'm gonna convert them to DNG as well. So I have them imported. I have a new folder with a new name. And then I have the files all renamed as well. And that's essential. Otherwise, if you're not renaming your files, eventually you can have files of the same name and Lightroom can't handle that. So custom name, custom location, bring them in. Step one. Step two is to do a pass, which is almost like a sweeping pass, almost like they're small, I'm just scanning. Here's where the shoot started. Here's a couple things. Here's the end. I'm trying not to judge it. I'm just getting a sense of how much is there. This might be the equivalent to bringing the laundry basket from the laundry machine out to the family room and dumping it on the floor. Oh my gosh, kids, this is how much laundry we have to fold right now. There it is. Then I need to make sense of that mess a little bit. And when I make sense of that mess, one of the things I have to do is I have to be strong, because you're gonna feel really deflated when you go through it. You're gonna be like oh, I missed that one. Oh, I missed that one. I missed that one. And I saw, you know what, this isn't about that right now. This is just about finding. This isn't about what's wrong or the problem of what's bad. This is about finding what's good. I'm on a search, I'm on a quest. And I'm searching and then I'm tagging the images pretty broadly into the ones that I like. Then once I have that broad group turned into a collection, then I make another collection that's a little bit smaller and then one more. So I go through it three times. I only allow myself that. I have to be that decisive. If I'm a little wishy-washy, then it's done. Then I actually leave the computer and I come back and I go through my second set, if that makes sense, because there's certain images that I abandoned just because I'm sick of looking at images. And here's what I mean. If I showed you 6,000 of the best images in the entire world that have ever been captured, after image 1,001, you would just be like stop. Your brain can't handle it. Even if like the best, best, best, best, the best work, visually it's too much information for us to process. So I need a break and I need to revisit. And then I revisit. A couple of them I'll be like, oh yeah, I overlooked that one or misjudged that one. Then from there, the workflow is the Lightroom, batch processing in general, and I batch process in groups, if that makes sense. So I batch process the tree photos. I batch process the beach photos. I batch process the kids jumping. And so I do that in groups. And then occasionally, if I find one that's special, I hit Photoshop. But I try to hold back from doing that. 'Cause if I hit Photoshop too quick, I don't get through it. Which gets back to your question as well. I need to be, it's like Jim does a great job with me. We'll be walking around CreativeLive and we'll see people and I'll stop to talk to them, even though I need to get going somewhere. And Jim's like, "Come on, Chris, let's get going." And so I kind of think of having Jim in my mind when I edit. Like oh, I would love to work on this image, and Jim's like, "Chris, gotta get the job done." I'm like, all right thanks. So that's the workflow. Is that helpful to kind of see that picture? Any other questions? Big or small? This is more for when you're out on shoot, I guess? When you are, do you have like a picture profile that you have in your camera? Yeah, like a custom profile? Yeah. You know, a lot of people I know do use a custom profile. And if you aren't familiar with that, it's basically something you can set up on your camera. And then that ensures that you have color accuracy to that lighting situation. What I've found with me is that I move so much and the light changes so much, I've tried to use those, because all my friends are like, you've going to use these. These are amazing. And the times I use them, I'm like yeah, they were great for the first 15 shots. Then the sun burst through the clouds, and then the kid ran up in the tree, and then he was on the lawn and it was green and there was green light bouncing back at him. And there's no way, at least for my style, I'm gonna be like hold on, kid. Let me do another custom profile in the grass. I know there are some people who are more meticulous and do that, and my hat's off to them. I think they're rock stars. I just haven't found it effective for me. But this class isn't really about me, it's about you. So then the question is maybe your style is a little bit more, you know, I always photograph in this one park, it's always dusk. I'm gonna do six shoots and it's fall, and fall leaves and fall colors. The light's a little bit subdued with a little bit of gold to it. Yeah, I mean if you're, or I have one friend who always photographs at this one barn. And it's a beautiful barn, beautiful field next to the barn. You know, it's just a perfect kind of setup. So yeah, do a profile. I'm a little bit, as Jim would say, "Squirrel!" You know, I'm like (mumbles). All right, do a touch more. I just want to get to one more shot. Actually, I know it's kind of hard to watch when I'm scrolling, but I want to scroll through these to find one photograph here just for, two photographs just for fun. Let me see if I can find this one, give me a second. Do, do, do, where is it? I need to make this a touch bigger here. Well, I'll just go to the end. So when I set, when I was at the shoot and I said I have no idea if I've gotten any photographs, I legitimately meant that. I've never had that happen to me on a family shoot. I always feel like I know at least a few things that I got that were good. And what I was working towards, as you know sort of my shot list was something like this where the family is connected in this way. So meaning they're not just random things. They're in one spot. Finding something for people to sit or stand on is helpful because it does that, it kinds of anchors them. I like the idea of trees. I like the idea of trees having roots. I like that connectedness. So in this case, this was for me where I feel like there's something that's good and just sort of going through these quickly. Basically you can see I'm putting the family over on the left. I have the bridge in the background. I changed my f-stop, so I'm at f/4 right now, 50 millimeter lens. And I did that because I think I made a mistake earlier of, and I hadn't really realized, of going too shallow. 'Cause usually for me, backgrounds don't matter. If you look at all my other photographs, the background's a blur. But then I was like I gotta get a little more bridge in here. And I just had that gut that I needed a little more bridge. So I'm getting a little bit more bridge and you can kind of see where we're going with all these. And there's some fun moments. He's maybe singing. But I love his dad smiling, so that's a good moment. So with any of these shots, the composition is a little bit big. And let me see if there's one in particular. I know there's one that I ended up really liking. There's some stuff we ended up not showing. But we did some, okay, sorry, I'm multitasking. In the footage, we didn't show the very end of the shoot. So there's a couple of others. But where we were kind of sitting on a log and we're up close like this. But what I found is with the up-close stuff, like this, it wasn't quite, I mean there is a moment or two in here if we really dig into it. But it worked a little bit better before when you're looking at those ones where they were off to the side like this. And the bridge is over there. So I can't remember which one, because, oh maybe this one here, let me open this one up. Or actually, let's just start with it. Is it there? Okay, there we go. This is the RAW file. Okay, so when you get to that point where you find the image maybe you like, I need to crop it. And I'll just go through a little bit of a workflow. It think this is gonna be the last thing which we'll do here. But for me, if I have a shot that's my favorite, it's probably this one. So I'm making sure the bridge is straight. I have to honor that, as you have to honor horizons typically. So when I shoot with the ocean in the background, I need to do that. If there's nothing identifiable, it doesn't really matter. But if you have sort of a strange tilt like this, it can be fun. Actually, that's not that bad, tell you the truth. But sometimes a viewer won't know why, but they'll just feel like there's something a little off. And so feeling's really important. So I'm just going to say I have to keep the bridge nice and tall. I also want the family a little bit more front and center. So I'm going in like that. So that's gonna get me going to a decent start. From there, I know it needs to go warm. I go over the temperature slider, and what do I tap on the keyboard? Little up arrow key, right? Just kind of incrementally giving me a little warmth. Because I don't wanna be careful that I'm not like doing this, you know, where it's like, ugh, I just kinda went too far. Sometimes I'll slide it around. I just know with temperature on foggy days, it can get out of control. I have that Auto Tone on, so you can kind of see how Auto did. I realize with these, when I first batch processed them, they just all needed a little help, because my exposure was a little under and needed a little bit of work on that. And I tend to find that family photographs, let me go really far, overexposing family photographs, like maybe that's a little bit overdone, it works. It brightens things up. I wouldn't do this if it were a different type of shoot, but with family we like this light, airy type of feel to them. Contrast, let's bring a little bit, boost my shadows a little touch more. So I think an image like this can almost be done, minus a little detail work, some sharpening, or some noise reduction. It could also be fun to reduce a couple distractions. In Lightroom, a great tool for that is the spot removal tool. What I mean by that is you can go down here and say, even though this isn't a huge problem, I can just hit that little area of sand, because your eye will always hit areas of contrast, areas of focus, areas of darkness. And so I can go through and just click or click and drag over a couple of these spots. Because having the sand before the family cleaned up a touch is going to help. And I'm gonna do a little bit of that here. This over here. And the reason why we have to do this, and what this teaches us, too, remember I said when you compose, you look and look around? What most people do when they look at an image is they just look at a family. But as photographers, we have to realize the family counts, and so does everything in the frame. And so in post-production, this is actually teaching me how to shoot. And if there's things you find that, I don't know, there's shoots I've done, I'm sure you've done this too, where you get back, you're like oh my gosh. I have to retouch out this telephone pole a hundred times. I swear next time I shoot, telephone pole's gone. It will never be in my frame again. And those people who take those lessons go really far. So anyway, you get a little gist of just some clean-up work on that. Doesn't that look a little bit nicer, just sort of adds to it. Has a nice natural feel. I love that the dad's smiling. As I mentioned, he was a bit more stoic. And so to get him smiling, Quinn up there crazy, the mom's good, the kids are there. And it's not, I feel like this shot is not overdone. And my deepest hope with the photographs that are the keepers are their friends or their family say, "Oh, that's so you guys." And that it is them.

Class Description

  We love photography because it helps us celebrate and savor life. Capturing those images can be difficult, especially when it’s your own family or friends. Photographer and artist Chris Orwig walks through all the techniques that go into capturing a photo quickly so that you can focus on your subject while relaxed and confident. He’ll discuss tips for working with available light as well as how to develop your own creative style. He’ll discuss gear recommendations and location scouting tips to set your photo shoot up for success. 

He’ll also cover: 
  • How to connect with children and capture real emotion 
  • Finding moments that photograph well and how to set them up naturally 
  • Wardrobe tips that make your photos timeless 
  • When and how you should turn your passion into a profit 
  • Essential Lightroom workflows for quick processing of your photos 
  • How to deliver your images or prints and share them for all to enjoy 
Start improving your photographs of your family with this course and learn the essential skills you need to make photographs that last a lifetime. 

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Family Resources

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


Meredith Zinner Photography

Chris is a FANTASTIC teacher (and photographer). He is so very very authentic, warm, REAL, talented, knowledgeable, honest, open and true to his wonderful self. This class, in addition to endless nuggets of knowledge and insights, highlights how being true to your own self makes you a better photographer- emphasizing connection, authenticity, fun and easy relaxed simple joy. A refreshing take on children's photography for sure! Thank you Chris and CreativeLive!

lisa james

Wow, I have been in search of my style. I've been reading and researching and listening to inspiring speakers and from each one I've gathered pieces of information that help guide me. This class, however, has been the most successful for me. Chris's approach to teaching and his material that he provides is Spot On for me. Thank you, Chris. I am so inspired and eager to move forward now that I can see my vision more clearly. I highly recommend this class.

Neeraj Arora

Oh my god!!!! What a class. I couldn't stop watching. Chris you are an inspiration, loved every word you said, loved how you said it. I am in the process of getting a plan together for doing photography professionally on the side, on top of my research career, and you just hit a home run in getting me motivated and excited in taking the plunge. My photography of people gives me a lot of satisfaction and meaning and you just validated what I have been thinking of doing lately. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.