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Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography

Lesson 5 of 60

Communicate with Your Team


Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography

Lesson 5 of 60

Communicate with Your Team


Lesson Info

Communicate with Your Team

Communicating with your team is so important. So all this stuff that we just did, all this pre-work, is all gonna go into communicating with your team. If you're like, "Dear model, I want you to pose like this." "Dear designer, can we bring clothes like this?" Or "Dear friend who has cool clothes, "can we bring clothes like this?" "Dear makeup artist, "I am going to be photographing somebody "full-length, from a long ways away. "I want dark, heavy eye makeup. "Don't spend a ton of time on it. "Don't spend a ton of time doing details "because nobody is gonna see it." Or, if you're gonna be shooting beauty head shots with someone close up in the studio, you're like, "Dear makeup artist, "We're gonna spend a lot of time "photographing really close up shots. "Can you spend a little bit of extra time "making those little lines perfect? "Let's amplify your skill, "let's show everyone what you can do." If you can talk your team and communicate with them, very clearly, then all of a sudden eve...

rything's gonna make a lot more sense. One of the things, by the way, I know we'll talk about this going forward again, but has anybody here taken a makeup class? If you retouch faces, have you taken a makeup class? Yeah! They're awesome. They're so interesting. If you photograph faces, take a makeup class. Take a crappy one on the weekends, or get a makeup artist that you know to come and hang out and explain makeup to you. I used to run a course that was makeup for photographers. It wasn't photographers learning to install makeup, but how do you talk to your makeup artist? How do you get what you need from your makeup artist? And then how do you retouch the makeup from the makeup artist? Because lots of makeup artists I talk to were heartbroken because they do such incredible work on the face and the photographer just burned it all out and made black, and they're like "But all the details!" Then they can't use the images because it doesn't show their work off very accurately. One of the things I learned that was extremely helpful that I didn't know, that when you put makeup on a face, and then you send them outside to where it's hot, or outside to where it's cold, the color of the makeup on the face changes. I noticed this in some of my earlier work, where I was like "Why does she have a line? "She didn't have a line in the studio! "And now there's a line on her face, when did this happen?" And it's just because the temperature changed. So if you can tell a makeup artist and say, "Hey, we're gonna be photographing outdoors, natural light, "it's gonna be hot, it's gonna be a little bit sweaty "but we're shooting far away. "Don't spend tons of time on detail. "Make sure the color is gonna work for her skin "once her temperature warms up, "because you're going from air conditioning to hot, "and then make sure it's not gonna run when she sweats." Something to think about. And that's assuming, of course, you're photographing women, men, if you're putting makeup on them, same thing. Skin is skin. Well, it's not skin if you take a makeup course. (chuckles) In other case, these things, going forward, are extremely helpful, even if you just get a makeup artist to sit down and be like, "Explain this witchcraft to me, "because I don't get it." It's going to help going forward. Same thing if you're communicating with your hair stylist. You're sitting there and you're like, "Okay, we're gonna be shooting stuff "that's front of the face only." Well, they can do whatever they want in the back. We photographed this one chick a few years ago, and we stuck a ton of stuff in her head. The hair stylist was like, "Do I have to worry "about making the back look nice?" I said, "We're not gonna see the back of her head." She's like, "Oh, thank God." (chuckles) So she brought all the hair forward into this headpiece thing, and the back of her head looked like straw bales, because there were feathery things sticking out, and they were poking her in the neck and everything. In other case, it was like, yeah, we don't have to worry about that. Don't spend time on stuff that we're not gonna see. When we were photographing our subject, which we're gonna edit today, as you'll see, it was really windy. So I told the hair stylist, "Loose curls, it's gonna get destroyed anyways. "It doesn't matter, it's fine." So then she knows to put a ton of hair spray in it, to do the best that she's gonna do, and understand that the wind is gonna make a mess of it all. But all I wanted was that little bit of texture. So being able to tell her that, she wasn't trying to make perfect ringlets that were gonna last. Being able to tell your team that, hey, this is what's going on. And then tell your model, "Hey, it's winter out. "You're gonna be freezing, please put leggings on." (chuckles) Or what works really nicely, you know those little hot packs? We're in Seattle, people, do you guys use those? It doesn't get that cold here. (chuckles) But those little hot packs, if you're out in the cold, what I used to do a lot when I was modeling, is because you have these arteries on the insides of your thighs, tape those suckers to your leg. (chuckles) They keep you way warmer, so if you're wearing something that's long, or you're not gonna see the legs anyways, then you can keep somebody a little bit warmer in colder temperatures. If you're the type that likes to make people freeze, some ways to keep your team happy. Do we have any questions on that? I was just gonna jump over to the next patch slide. Let me take a peek. One question folks have is, do you have your team all over in different cities, how's the best way to communicate? Do you do Skype calls, or emails, what's your best practices for that? Skype calls are fun, for communicating with everybody, because I travel a lot, so I have different groups of people around the world. The nice thing about working with repeat people is they know your habits, and they're like "She likes lots of black stuff on the eyes, "that raccoon thing is fun." So they know that probably it's what I'm gonna ask for. But I love to send a ton of images, so that's gonna be in the mood boards going forward. I'll text them, I'll email them, whatever. I'll be like, "This is kind of loosely "what I'm looking for." But I also like to give people enough creative room to do what they do best. So if I go to a designer and I'm like, "Hey, I want a big, poofy, fluffy thing, "roughly this color, that'd be cool. "But what would you do, "if you could do anything you wanted?" And every now and then they come up with something, I'm like, "I never thought of that! "That is so awesome!" Because I'm not a designer. I don't design clothes, I don't know how that stuff works. It's magic to me, it's witchcraft, it's totally like, how do you take something that's a bolt of fabric and make something awesome? I don't work that way. I like to be able to give them, like I do with my stories, the general guidelines. The previous sketch, the color palette, whatever. Then I'm like, "Okay, do your thing." Same thing with makeup and hair people. I'm like, "Okay, this is our blank slate. "Our model is our blank slate. "What can we do with her that looks really cool? "Within these boundaries, "because I want to do a really badass military chick. "What makes sense for that?" Okay, well, if we're gonna do a military chick, generally there's certain rules that have to be for makeup and hair in the military. Different countries have different rules. Okay, we take that into consideration, then we play within those rules. Then it's like, "Okay, makeup artist, do your thing." And all of a sudden they contour their face and I'm like, "Wow, I never thought of that, that's great." Still giving them enough direction, because you're the one, if you're the creative director on the shoot, which is not always the case, but if you are, you want to hold enough of the reins on your team to keep them going the same way, but still let them do their thing. Does that make sense? Did I squirrel around on that way too much? That was good? Okay. Sometimes I get distracted. Squirrel moments happen. (man chuckling) What's up? So Renee, what do you use for mood boards? Right now I'm just using Pinterest, I'm trying to find something that will piece it together better. Do you have any ideas? This is actually a question that I knew was gonna come up, and I'm gonna show an example of one of my mood boards, but I'll honestly stitch things together into one PSD file, or a JPG, or flatten it all together. I'm like, this is it. Or, honestly, if I have their phone number, I just text them a whole bunch of images so it's in the text chat conversation and we can just scroll back. I probably should be more professional about it, but it works so far. (chuckles) Pinterest is great though, DeviantArt is great. You could make a Dropbox folder. If you use SmugMug, you can make private galleries for everyone, where everyone loads up their ideas and stuff like that. There's so many different ways, it's finding the way that works best for you. Pinterest, I think, works pretty well for people. What's up? One more question before we go off of this slide. There's a person in there that's an amateur, no team, how do I cope, what do you suggest? So no team, how do you cope? Yeah, you were there at one point, right? Oh yeah, totally, I think we were all there. Even sometimes I'm still there. (both chuckle) Show up somewhere, I'm like, "Everybody's sick." If you have no team, no nothing, the internet is your best friend. Finding subjects who are half decent at doing their makeup, and then learning to retouch it really well is always good. I know in certain countries you can't be a makeup artist without a license, I think the States is one of them. You can not apply makeup unless you have your cosmetology certification or something like that. I'm not American. (chuckles) Some countries, you can learn to apply the makeup on people, if that's something you're interested in. Otherwise, find people, even if you're in school. For example, when I was in high school, I always had that friend that was amazing at makeup. You're like, "What, how? "I'm screwing on eyeliner and it's just looking terrible, "but you look amazing." Generally, if we kind of reach out a little bit into our circle, that can help. Worst case scenario, absolutely worst case scenario, you can get really good at retouching and do your own makeup on them in digital art. It adds a lot of time, and it's a lot nicer to have a team. There's lots of places to meet people as well. Of course, this is the world of social media and the internet. Really, we have no excuse for ignorance anymore. Ignorance is just a temporary state on the slide through to education and expanding our minds. So we all started in that "We don't know what we don't know" category, and then we start going on that. If you're totally stuck and you have no skills and there's nobody around you, understand that, okay, I'm gonna have to talk to people. Maybe somebody's mom used to be a cosmetologist and maybe she can help out with this or whatever. It's getting out there, unfortunately being social, and photographers are not always the most social bunch. We're kind of like, leave me alone with my camera. But you've gotta do stuff that scares you if you want to get what you need done. I just wanted to add, you kind of mentioned this earlier, finding people that like to do cosplay. I found a friend at a renaissance festival, and she dresses up in like, everything, and has all these wigs, and can do her own makeup, and she is just like, "Hey, you wanna go shoot this today?" And I'm like, "Sure!" Somebody that's into dressing up and doing those things are great to do that too. Yeah, exactly, and that's something I'm gonna touch on here going forward, is on the next batch of nuclear bomb slides.

Class Description

With the right Adobe® Photoshop® know-how and studio shoot experience, you can merge fact and fiction into a reality that lives up to your imagination. Renee Robyn has made a career of turning everyday photos from her travels into eye-catching images. Robyn will teach you how to add people and other elements to your existing landscape photos using ethereal custom effects.

In this class you’ll learn:

  • How to choose or set up a shoot for your background image
  • How to direct posing during a shoot, and work with directional light in-studio to make your subject fit into the background image
  • How to composite your subject into your image using Photoshop

Photo compositing allows you to breathe interesting ideas into your photos. Open your hard drive, walk into your memory, and turn past experiences into fantastic new realities.


  1. Class Introduction
  2. Why You Should Sketch Your Composite
  3. What to Look for in Your Background
  4. Posing Your Model
  5. Communicate with Your Team
  6. Elements of Compositing
  7. Learning from Failure & Criticism
  8. On-Location Safety Tips
  9. How to Nail the Right Perspective for Your Composite Photo
  10. Gauging Light & Exposure On-Location
  11. On-Location Posing
  12. Cliff Shoot Location Final Thoughts
  13. Tips for Culling Images
  14. Culling Images Q&A
  15. Preparing Your Image for Composite
  16. Composite Image Cleanup
  17. Adding Background Image to Composite
  18. The Difference Between Flow & Opacity
  19. Composite Sky Elements
  20. Using Curves to Color Match
  21. Adding Atmospheric Depth to Image
  22. Using Color Efex Pro to Manipulate Color
  23. Using the Liquify Tool
  24. Color Theory & Monitor Calibration
  25. Adding Smoke Layer to Image
  26. Selective Sharpening
  27. Crop Your Image
  28. Goal Setting for Digital Artists
  29. Review of Location Composite
  30. Understand Angle & Height for Your Base Plate Image
  31. Base Plate Focus Point
  32. Base Plate Lighting Tips
  33. How to Use a Stand-In for Base Plate Image
  34. Capture On-Location Base Plate Image
  35. Student Positioning Demo
  36. Base Plate Sketching
  37. On-Location Sky Capture
  38. What to Look for in a Base Plate Model
  39. Building Composite Model Lighting
  40. Composite Model Test Shots for Angle Matching
  41. Composite Model Shoot: The Art of Fabric Throwing
  42. Composite Model Shoot: Working with Hair
  43. Composite Model Shoot: Posing Techniques
  44. Composite Test with Final Shot
  45. Lighting Setup Overview
  46. Culling Model Shoot Images
  47. Adjusting Skintone Colors
  48. Merging Background with Model
  49. How to Mask Hair
  50. Creating a Layer Mask with the Brush Tool
  51. Creating Shadow Layers
  52. Removing Visual Distractions with Stamp Tool
  53. Replacing Sky with Layer Mask
  54. Drawing Hair Strands and Atmospheric Depth
  55. Creating Contrast in Your Composite
  56. Adding Atmospheric Elements
  57. Using Particle Shop
  58. Selective Color Adjustments
  59. Cropping, Sharpening, & Final Touches
  60. Closing Thoughts


Dino Maez

i have to say, the class was AMAZING! in every way from the tricks and technique's of mastering this art form to the personalized attention given by Renee. through the class you are able to learn information that would normally take the average person years of trial and error. Renee gives you the gift of benefitting from her her experiences and what she has learned THE HARD WAY! Renee is an outstanding instructor full of passion for what she does, and with a strong desire to not only improve the art, but more importantly, pay it forward, by sharing her knowledge with others. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the event in person, truly a once in a lifetime experience for me, the staff at creative live were THE BEST! they are helpful in every way and really made this event something special, i can't say enough about the experience i had and would highly recommend that anyone who has the opportunity to go down for a class, it will be an experience that you will never forget. but the best part of creative live is that wether you are there in person or wether you are watching from the comfort of your own home, you are involved in the class in REAL TIME, you have the ear and attention of the skilled artist giving the instruction, being there myself i can tell you that Renee was regularly given questions and comments from the viewers via the creative live staff and she would respond to them as they came, in that way you are very much apart of the class you are never left without getting that personalized attention of an amazing artist or that specific question you have answered, and even better you have the option to purchase the class and have it as a constant resource in your tool kit that you can refer back to at any point that you need a refresher or want to recall that special technique that was demonstrated. thank you thank you to renee and all the staff at creative live you have a life long member in me. and i would recomend that everyone take advantage of this valuable resource dino maez

stephen lenman

I have completed many creative courses. This is by far the best so far. Quite the most amazing and inspiring presenter with a true passion for their craft. The core information is excellent, but the thing i liked most were her subtle tangents, dropping incredible information completely on the fly. A complete real world honest view of business and practical side of the industry. Especially her advice on how she started to her business. Saving up enough in her day job so she could pay the rent, and do photography for 3-6 months.

Sheldon Carvalho

Awesome class. I've been following Renee for a very long time. I love her work and to finally see her work and get an image done from start to finish was quite something.. I love the way she sees things and the way she treats her work and all fellow creative. I would recommend this to everyone interested in getting into composting. Looking forward to creating and making my own art work. But it now :) Have fun creating. :)