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Environmental Portrait Photography

Lesson 24 of 48

Retouch Images in Photoshop

Dan Brouillette

Environmental Portrait Photography

Dan Brouillette

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Lesson Info

24. Retouch Images in Photoshop
Moving into Adobe Photoshop, remove distracting elements like stray hairs and acne. Work with the patch tool and clone tool to clean up images in Photoshop.


Class Trailer
1 Class Introduction 06:15 2 Introduction to The Environmental Portrait 06:51 3 Environmental Portrait Purpose 13:06 4 Personal Work 18:36 5 Find Your Process 20:20 6 Tethering 18:35 7 Purpose For Action Editorial 05:19 8 Prepare for Shoot 06:10

Lesson Info

Retouch Images in Photoshop

The first thing I'd do is general cleanup, just because I like to get that out of the way and saved. For this image, we'll do a little bit of skin cleanup, not much, like I said, I'm just looking for anything that's really distracting. So I'd like to get a new background layer. Let me adjust the Photoshop window here. I guess I could just hit that. Okay, so what we can do, some of these fly away hairs, just little things. I'm gonna do that in a new background layer, in case I screw up I can mask it out or start over. So that's command J and I'm gonna use the patch tool, which I have set as a shortcut J and it goes to the patch tool. We're just gonna go in and I'm gonna get rid of some of the lighter colored hairs that are catching the specular highlight that are gonna annoy me later because they're slightly distracting. Sometimes you'll have to use a clone tool to get this if you have hairs that are too close together or are too close to a contrasting edge. For the most part, we can ge...

t rid of the vast majority of these by using the patch tool. Again, I'm not a professional retoucher, but I've done this for awhile and I know what works for me and I also know that, for the most part, I'm gonna look at these photos a lot closer than anybody else. So if I think it looks pretty good and I'm okay with it, that's about as far as I'm gonna take it. But I'm just getting rid of a few of those hairs. You can see just lining those back up. Just quick work of anything that is overly distracting or even mildly distracting really because I don't wanna look at the image later and have that bother me. This might be an area where you could clean it up with a clone tool instead of a patch tool, but it's okay. Just about done with that. There's some sort of bright spot there. So that's good with hair. We'll do some light blemish removal, anything that's overly distracting. Again, I'm not trying to make this into a beauty ad, but if there's things, you know, he's a basketball player. There's gonna be some nicks and cuts and bruises and bumps, that's fine. Just getting rid of anything that's too obvious. And any unwanted reflections, again, that's why I didn't wanna shoot with the backlight hitting his nose because then I have to come in and retouch it all later or I could spend eight seconds just moving the light ahead of time and not have to deal with that. This looks pretty good. Again, still using the patch tool. You could use the healing brush for this too, either way. I just like the patch tool 'cause it helps me in some other areas that we'll talk about momentarily. So anything that's overly bright. I'm okay with any of that. This reflection on his lip is a little much. That's good. Alright, this might be a challenge. I don't even know if I wanna tackle that. No, not right now. That's just the new brands, this gaff taped athletic wear. A couple things I would do if I were getting really picky and I'll just do it 'cause we're here is removing this blue cord especially. So that's one where I'd create a new background layer. We'd go in with the clone tool. Bracket left to make a smaller tool. Again, this is an area where if no one knows, if you never saw the before image, you would never think to look down here, but I'm gonna get rid of it because I don't like it. It's my picture and I can do that. And I'm gonna get rid of the shadow of that cord too 'cause without a cord, there won't be a shadow. We're just gonna do this not in the most thorough way. I gotta turn the opacity up on this brush. I'm not gonna spend a lot of time on this 'cause you guys get it, but I do want it to look good for the final image. Almost there. This could be a good time for any questions too. Anything? Do you always do your own retouching, someone asked, Yvonne asked. I do my own retouching unless somebody else wants to pay someone else to do it, so for the most part, yeah, it's me. There are occasions like for larger ad shoots and things like that where retouching is included, some editorial. I know the last shoot I did for ESPN, they handled retouching 'cause they wanted it a specific way. Things like that. But for the most part, I do it because I'm picky. I don't mind doing it. We could even move this whole thing altogether. Let's see if we can make that happen without spending an ungodly amount of time on this. So I just wanna see if we can do it quickly and make it look somewhat realistic. So we have to line up seams and all that good stuff. Thrilling work. And again, if you weren't here, you wouldn't know this was ever there. So that's one of those things that if you're getting super picky, you have to remember, why would anybody be looking at the bricks near the floor and I'm not even gonna tackle that right now because that'll be mind numbing. One thing I might do is just make it really dark so you can't even see the white, but whatever, that's fine. We'll call that good for now. So what we did was we cleaned up the blue cord. See, you can't even see what I did, so it's so far away, who cares. But I am picky enough that when we see it up close, I wanna make sure his face looks good. I want (mumbles) look at these pictures. Whatever client it is, it's a true collaboration, because I wanna take pictures of people where they look at 'em and they're like, oh yeah that looks pretty cool, I look good. And I wanna look at the pictures from a photo standpoint and be like, yeah that does look pretty good. It turned out how I wanted. I want everybody to be happy from the client to myself, mostly the client and that to work out. So as far as actual retouching, again, we planned out the rest of it by not having this thing come out of the top of his head. We thought about all these details up front, so now I don't have to remove that because it's coming out of his shoulder. I don't care so much about that. His head's framed up nicely. It's not anything distracting. That highlight on the window does not bother me much. I mean, that'd be natural from a light being back here. That haze is a happy accident. I didn't mean for that to happen, but it's kinda sweet. So I would then save this, level 10 JPEG and we'll call that good for right now.

Class Description


  • Confidently create environmental portraits
  • Light any portrait, indoors or outdoors
  • Compose strong environmental portraits
  • Cull and polish high-end images in post
  • Develop a portfolio and marketing tactics


Create dramatic images anywhere by mastering on-location scouting, planning, lighting, and composition. Join professional photographer Dan Brouillette in a start-to-finish course on the art of environmental portraits. From planning and scouting to post-processing and portfolio building, gain the skills to shoot high-end portraits, anywhere. While designed for environmental portrait work, this class is also for any photographer that wants to create better light, on location.

In this light-intensive course, learn how to craft environmental portraits using photographic lighting techniques working with both natural light and studio lighting equipment. Work with multi-light strobe set-ups and natural window light to turn difficult lighting conditions into beautiful light. Then, learn how to mix natural light and studio lights for dramatic effects that complement the scene. By incorporating light in new and inventive ways, Dan will help you push the boundaries of your portraits and improve your workflow.

Finally, work with culling and post-processing. Learn how to polish images using a combination of Capture One, Photoshop, and Alien Skin software. Then, gain insight into building a portfolio and marketing your work to work in editorial and commercial areas for environmental portraiture.


  • Budding portrait photographers
  • On-location portrait photographers
  • Photographers eager to learn on-location lighting
  • Photographers branching into commercial and editorial work


Capture One 11, Adobe Photoshop CC 2018, Alien Skin 2018


Dan Brouillette's high-end editorial style has lead to work with celebrities from Anne Hathaway to Scarlett Johansson. A commercial, editorial and senior photographer based in Nebraska, he's known for giving everyday people the Hollywood look. His previous work as a lighting technician helped him build his signature style using dramatic lighting techniques typically used for commercial work. With an insightful and easy listening teaching style, he helps photographers learn to craft with light.


Julie V

I had the chance to sit in the audience for this class and absolutely loved it. Watching Dan create amazing images from start to finish in front of us was so inspiring. I've learned so much from this class. It actually gave me the confidence to start playing with lights in my studio. It was really useful to see how he sets his lights and how he can easily mix ambient light with artificial. I also love how he focuses on getting the image right in the camera to only do light edits after. I recommend this class to anyone wanting to learn more about lighting, shooting tethered and editing efficiently!

a Creativelive Student

I love this guy! I so appreciate his honesty while he is explaining his thought process, admitting that his “shoulda/coulda/woulda’s” - which I experience ALL the time. I am now going to dust off my light meter and start using it on location as I’m convinced that it works now that I’ve seen Dan’s class. I enjoyed the detailed way he sets up each light individually, checking to make sure it adds the amount and quality of light he wants. Definitely recommend this class - especially for those people who have experience using studio lights and want to see how they can be used to get specific results. Dan’s clear, simple explanations, his unabashed humility, and his sense of humor made this a truly enjoyable way to spend my time learning his methods.

a Creativelive Student

Dan is an excellent instructor! He's completely transparent with his thought processes, from technical to creative. He doesn't waste time horsing around or getting off topic, but is structured and sticks to his outline. Every minute watched is on topic, and is understandable. He's sincere and likable. The course is great for anyone interested in this genre!