Incredible Engagement Photography


Lesson Info

Photoshop Editing for Print

Let's do this quick bit of post-production, I actually wanna take this into Photoshop and do a little bit. So let's do this. I wanna show you guys how we'd remove just some of the basic objects. I'm gonna brighten up the image. Okay. And then we're just gonna do our basic settings here, so let's just go ahead and just make some basic adjustments. Actually I wonder, we'll just do it manually. Kinda pull down the highlights, pull down the whites a little bit. I'm gonna add a bit of shadows. And I'm actually gonna pump this up quite a bit, so I'm gonna bring up the exposure. There we go. Okay, we're gonna bring it up quite a bit because what I'm gonna do is actually raise it up by like two. And then I'm gonna use this guy, my radial filter to bring back all the, ah, I clicked the filmstrip. There we go. Okay, we're gonna set this to a burn. I'm gonna pull this guy down. Now, the rule of thumb was the thumbnail view, right? Go back to thumbnail view. Does it look like this is vignetted? No...

t really. Is that weird because hey, we pulled this down, if you watch that. Oops, was that the right photo? There we go. We pulled it down by 1.4 stops. But it still did not look vignetted. Every scene is unique, right, so our 0.5 as a general rule of thumb but that applies to scenes that are very bright to begin with. This is a very dramatic scene to begin with, there's a lot of dark tones. So as we pull it back down, you'll notice that the reason this works is because we made a two stop adjustment to exposure, just for the couple. And then we pulled down the outside by around 1.4 stops. Does that make sense? That's kind of like, the rule on why it's okay is because of that adjustment that's being made. Okay, let me show you one other cool trick. Don't gotta tilt-shift. Actually, let's do a, we'll get there. Calm down, just calm your roll people. Just kidding, don't calm your roll. I feel like if I say calm the roll, they're just gonna stop talking in total. I'm gonna press J to look at my highlight and clipping alert and just bring a little bit of the shadows back out. I don't mind a little bit of clipping but I don't want too much. I think that looks great, I might even, yeah, what I might do is add back a little bit of the whites in the image. And just kind of target them. So I'm gonna do this. Let's go down, let's add a little bit of tone curve action, get a little bit more depth. Perfect. Cool. Let's go down here. And if we wanted to, if we wanted to tone down some of the blues in the shot, like maybe in his shirt and in the sky, we could always just grab our saturation and just throw it right on there and just pull it back a little bit. So see how we can tone it down a little bit, so it has more of a subtle look and feel to the shot. Versus if it's oversaturated, it kinda looks like it's a little bit too poppy. So, sometimes I like to just pull that back a little bit. We're gonna add our split toning back in. I'm gonna make it very subtle. Okay, I'm gonna go really rough and kinda quick with this. Let's just put this, if you wanna use this, you can just drop it right over, click this little button, and put it right over like their faces. And then you can just sharpen to your heart's content. Notice how when we don't make the masking adjustments, see how it's sharpening all the noise basically in the shot. So I'm gonna bring up the masking up to about 80, maybe 70. Bring up the noise reduction a little bit. Get a nice softness to it, looks good. Okay. I'm gonna grab a graduated brush, we're gonna go to a 0.5 negative burn, and pull it in from the left side. So now I'm just deepening that left side burn. And I can pull it in more. Isn't it cool what you can do to an image when you have all the information there? Look at how far we've gone with this. We're just kind of like choosing what we wanna reveal, what we wanna conceal in a shot, right? Nice. Okay, alright. And let's do this, I want one little bit of, I'm actually gonna do a little bit of a detail enhancement over the couple. Just to make them pop a little bit. So if you look at this, we're gonna boost contrast, boost the highlights, I wanna add a little bit of whites to it. We're gonna add a little bit of clarity. Just gonna paint this right over them. Okay, and what I'll do is hold down alt or option, I'm gonna paint it kinda off their pants 'cause their pants don't really need to be brighter or anything like that. I'm gonna make some tweaks to the brush, so I'm gonna whiten it actually and add some more whites and more highlights. Okay. And then once we get to a certain point, I'm gonna keep this feather there, so I'm just painting in a little bit more to keep a feather. Actually gonna reduce the clarity a bit. Let's reduce the clarity by 20. Okay, we can zoom in if we need to check out just close up. They're a tiny bit soft but that's alright. Okay, that looks good. Okay, so that little adjustment, it just helps them to kind of come out a little bit more. Do you guys see how it just kind of pops them out a little bit, we added some of the highlights and some of the detail back to them. So when you look at this, your eyes get naturally drawn in 'cause it's the brightest area of the frame on this. So at this point we just press Control + E or Command + E and that's gonna take us into Photoshop. We generally save all the Photoshop on our stuff, tool, tool, tool to the very last moment. Till the very last bit. So once we finish all the basic processing, maybe an hour, two hours tops. We're gonna go back and then we'll just grab some of the gray images that we know we want to do something on and we'll do a little bit of Photoshop work for just those images. And that's it. We try not to do it on like a typical engagement, we wouldn't do it on more than like three to five images. Okay so, I'm gonna go ahead and I would consider myself decent inside of Photoshop. I would not say I am an Aaron Nace so just bear with me a little bit. Aaron is like friggin' nuts. I don't know what that kid's... Never mind. (laughing) I do know. Okay. What we're gonna do is I'm gonna add a new layer, always add a new layer. And one thing that you can do too just as a good rule of thumb is press Control + J or Command + J to jump your layer to a new one, so that way you have a copy of your layer. If you're gonna make any adjustments directly on the layer, copy it, make a new layer first. So that way you can always get back. Now that we're in Photoshop, everything from here on is destructive. So whatever we're doing to our image, we wanna do on new layers, we wanna do on everything because we are now manipulating the image. And we can't go back after these points, unless we put them on new layers and we can go back into Photoshop and make those adjustments. So on this layer, you can label it if you like, I don't label my layers when I'm working but I will right now just so you guys can kind of keep up with what we're doing. We're just gonna go like background, I'll just say background retouch. And then the way that I would work through an image just this is this is where the mouse ends and the Wacom tablet comes in, okay. So, this is the mouse that I use for Lightroom, this is the Logitech G500. It's actually a gaming mouse, yeah, I do like to play some games every now and then. If you're into Starcraft, let me know. We'll play some Starcraft. Got a hand out there. We're gonna nerd out together, brother. I think we have played and you like destroyed me, didn't you? I was gonna say, I had a note here to get your tag after this. I'm not giving it to ya. It's gonna be depressing, man. Okay so, let's go over here. Zoom out. And by depressing I mean I'm gonna get destroyed 'cause I'm not that good, I just like to play every now and then. Alright, so what we do is, I generally, like anything that's blown up in a studio, my job in the studio is post-production, right. I'm the manager of post-production, so whenever a producer is gonna get something ready for canvas, I'm the final eye that goes to it to make sure that everything is good. So typically the way that I'm gonna work is I'm gonna zoom in on image. Hold down alt or option just to zoom in. And then what you can do is you can hold down the spacebar to bring up the little hand tool. And then I'm just gonna glance top to bottom, left to right through the entire photo. What I'm looking for is I'm looking for anything that's bright or dark that's gonna throw my attention off of the frame, okay. So here I'm finding certain things like these little scratches and scrapes on the wall that might be overly dark. I wouldn't do this if this was a eight by 12. But if it's gonna be a 20 by 30 frame, I don't mess around anymore, I've done a 20 by 30 and a 40 by 60, and I print it out and there's like little dark spots in certain place that bug the crap out of me or little bright spots that bug the heck outta me. So now I just remove them. Press J to bring up your healing brush. And we're gonna use just the regular spot healing brush and what I like to do is I use an oval shape. So if you look at the shape of this. We're gonna put the hardness down to zero. And then we just adjust the shape of this brush, so this is how it is usually. It's adjusted there and it's set to this 90 degree angle. I tilt the angle, and then I pull in this little edge to kinda create an oblong shape to it. Bring the hardness down to zero, keep the size roughly about the size of whatever you're editing. The reason for this is that if you create an odd shape to the brush, it creates a less obvious pattern, it's a little bit more randomized. As opposed to like a circular shape that's being dropped over the image, you know what I mean? So we're gonna do that. And then with stuff like this that's simple, it's clean, it just has a little bit of background, we're gonna go over. And if you notice that nothing is happening, it's probably because we're not sampling from all layers. So we need to sample from all layers, so that way it's picking up layers below. But we're only painting onto this background retouch. Okay, and then we just grab these little bits and pieces. And I'm just gonna scan. Cool thing about this brush is that you can go fairly quick, it's really easy. And often times like if there's a big chunk like this that you wanna remove, it actually works fairly well if there's like something like this on it. Pattern that you don't mind. Okay, so these like brown pieces where it looks like there's been graffiti, I'm gonna remove those. Just gonna work my way across the image. My screen is super bright by the way guys, so it's a little bit hard for me to see into this exactly. But I can see certain things like this. So if you guys are noticing things that I'm not it's because it's really bright in here. I like to usually recommend that you work in, the general rule of thumb is that when you edit, you edit in rooms where you don't have direct light falling onto your display. I can actually see my reflection which means there's a lotta light in here. Okay, go over that, go over this. The car is not something that would be easily clone out like this. Okay, neither is this little bottle over there. Let me grab some of these guys, grab those guys out. This little thing bugs me, I know if I printed it as a 40 by 60, I would be like, what is that black thing on the wall? Let's take that out. Okay, I know that this isn't gonna be easily removed because it's in an area where it's just, there's a lot of odd stuff there. And it actually does a fairly okay job. If you wanna do it and then just kind of paint back over it, you can. But either way, let's actually, we'll leave that adjustment that it made. So we'll just leave this in for a sec. Ah no, it's easier just to do it on our own, let's just do it on our own. Okay, so from there we just kinda scan through. Now generally when I get, when it gets to me, most of this stuff has already been done, right. So I'm just kinda glancing through to make sure and I'm circling things that need to get fixed and removed and what not. One thing that I like to do on flyaways as well. So let's go back to the couple. We're gonna clean up a little of the flyaways. We're also gonna work down here a little bit. So let's do this. We're gonna create a new layer, now we're doing object removal. It's for your benefit guys. Oh, speaking of misspellings. I don't know if you guys noticed but I was watching my, when I was doing the presentation yesterday I was like man I got some misspellings in here. So I was typing this thing in PowerPoint, and this is a note, this is part of my tutorial. If you're working in PowerPoint, I learned something. If you have words capitalized and you run the spellchecker, PowerPoint ignores it. Isn't that funky? And every word was capitalized. So I just thought I was like an amazing spellchecker, I kept running it over and over, I'm like, I'm friggin' awesome at this, I'm a good speller. And then I saw it yesterday. So, you can turn that function off. Now this, so for object removal like a brush like this, it's gonna be hit or miss, right? If we start painting over this area and then we get to his pants, Photoshop may sometimes be able to guess what you're trying to do. Which there it did an okay job. But especially at the area, the pants where there's contrast, it sometimes doesn't really work. So what you can do is like when you get in these areas where you're doing tight-knit stuff like this. I can probably guarantee you that this is not gonna do the right job, right. So, the easiest thing is to press S, switch over to a clone stamp tool and just shrink it down a little bit. Use a fairly soft brush, so hardness at zero, size at 15. And all you're gonna do is, alt or option click to sample. And we're gonna sample along a side area where we have that graduation and just pull it right over and then start painting right over this area. And this is where the brush comes in really handy because I can just feather off as I'm getting close to the pants. And it'll naturally thin out the brush, so that the area gets more defined. Okay, when I get back over here, oops, that was the Windows button. In case you didn't know. Okay, we're gonna undo whatever I just did. Press Control + Z, Control + Shift + Z, let's get back here. There we go. Okay, and then the cool thing is that you can flip back and forth between the spot removal tool as you have little oblong shapes. So this is kinda fun, watch this. If I do just a little bit of, if I give Photoshop just a bit of help, right. So what I'm gonna do is actually get in here, I'm gonna clean up this little edge right there. Just by going in and kinda painting, alt sampling. I'm clicking like all the wrong buttons 'cause this is not the PC that I generally do so FYI. I love how we all have these excuses. These are my excuses, guys. Okay, take that out. Now I've helped out Photoshop. So now if I take this and now I switch to my spot removal tool. It actually will do a good job now because now it knows kinda what I'm trying to fix. So when I go over this, it's good now and I just kinda bring it over and do it a couple times 'cause I've separated the two components from each other. Does that make sense? So it's a very easy way to kind of fix something is you just separate the two and then you can go in and quickly remove and clean it up. Okay, this is a little bit bothering me right here. I'm gonna do something cray cray. I like that word, cray cray. I'm just gonna go to a brush and I'm gonna alt sample right here. So, alt to sample a color. I'm gonna turn the flow to 1%. And these are such small changes that I'm gonna round out this piece 'cause it's bugging me. So I'm literally gonna just paint this. Do you guys ever just paint in Photoshop? It's kinda fun. Okay, if I wanted to I could add texture back to that. But I don't really need to, I just painted a very subtle amount over just to kinda smooth it out a little bit. I'm gonna do the same thing right here and just kinda paint right here just to kind of smooth out that little transition. And then I'm just moving around and alt sampling. Kinda just cleaning up some of this stuff, okay. Here's something weird over here that if it printed I feel like I would notice. So I'll just take that, oh, that was awesome. Let's go back to our brush. So again, these kind of like little things like this where I see some areas of transition that are a little bit odd. Do you notice how that just eliminates it? I'm just sampling and painting over it a very like, we're just going to 100% opacity but turning the flow all the way down. Let me just even out those edges. Cool. Come over here, we got some stand action. And by the way, I would not generally take this long on this photo. We're spending forever. There we go. Okay, alt sample. Okay, help out Photoshop a bit. Gosh dang it, it's not picking up my alt. You dang machine. There we go. Alt sample. Okay, we're gonna disconnect this line. While you're doing that. Sure, I'm gonna switch this brush. Regarding the light stand that you use. 'Cause I know a lot of us have different light stands, some of them are bigger than others. And this one has kind of a low profile, so can you tell us, I know it's in your equipment list, but while you're getting rid of it, can you tell us what it was? Yes, big is not always better, is it? Not in the cause of trying to Photoshop crap out of your frames. The Manfrotto Nano Stand is like our favorite lighting stand 'cause it's tiny, it's low profile, it fits into carry on luggage, it fits everywhere. It'll go to about seven feet, it weighs like two pounds, it's light, it's very durable. And they're fairly inexpensive, they're like 60, 70, maybe 80 bucks at any point in time depending on if you get a deal or what not. So they're really great and they last forever. By the way did you guys see that? So, I disconnected the two lines and then just healed over it. Does that make sense? Cool. Sometimes if I'm lazy I'll just try and see can Photoshop figure out what I'm trying to do. Hey, not too bad. Let's go back to the healing brush and then we'll just kind of help it out a little bit. Okay, let's go a little quicker. Sample up here. I'm clicking like 20 times because sometimes it's not registering my click for some reason. See, like right there. You stupid. It's okay to yell at your machine every now and then. (whispering) Is that what you do? Cool, get that out. I'm gonna do the same thing here, we're gonna disconnect. Okay, disconnect. Okay, press J to switch back to the other healing brush tool. Swipe it out. Alright, press Control + 0 or Command + just to jump back to your 100% view when you're inside of Photoshop. So, that's the exact same thing that we do over in the corner with that little bottle. But I know we're a little bit running short on time at the moment. But I just wanted to clean up that stand so you guys can see it's fairly simple, it'll take you, once you get decent at just disconnecting real quick and then removing it, two, three minutes per image. If you're gonna do that and you're gonna shoot 35 images with the stand showing, just don't do that. Like figure out a way to make the stand not show. I know I'm delivering maybe two of these to the client. So that's okay if I need to fix two of them. But don't do it where the stand is showing in like 40 shots, that'd be not so good. Any questions so far on the Photoshop side? I think, Pye we might just have time for one question before we get a break. And I know you mentioned that you wanted to talk about it, so how would you prepare this image to go to print? Since you're talking about printing large. Oh, great question, okay. So, when we go to print, this is why we save the RAW files for all the images that we deliver because if we wanna make any tweaks, you know, your style is gonna change a little bit over the course of a year, two years, three years, and so forth. And we'll get requests from two years ago to go back and deliver an image. So what we'll do is we'll reprocess the RAW file to whatever our standard is currently, and then we'll take it into Photoshop. And the easiest way to do this is when you get that image and you get it into Photoshop, let's just say that I'm gonna jump this all to a new layer by pressing Control + Alt + Option + J. So, we have it so, let's just say this was our Lightroom edit, we brought it now into Photoshop. What I would do is go up to the image. And don't do that by the way, where I flattened out all the layers, that flattening out process just made it so we can't go back and undo anything that we've already done. I'm just pretending like we just brought this from Lightroom right now. So the easiest way to do this is go to the image, and actually change the canvas size and change it to whatever you want prior to basically making your retouch options, okay. And the way that we're gonna do this is actually via image size. Okay, so we're gonna match and we're gonna go up to like say we're gonna go 60 inches. And then we're gonna have resample set to automatic. You can say preserve details but I keep it smoother, automatic generally does a good job by itself. So, let's say you wanna go to 60 inch. I probably shouldn't have done that, that might take a little while. (laughter) Alright, we're okay. There we go. Now from this point, this is where you're actually gonna start zooming in, retouching, do everything, the main thing that you do when you're at 60 inches, is this is when you sharpen, okay. So, the biggest issue that we run into when we're enlarging things is that when an image is smaller, you need less sharpening on the image. When an image is larger, you generally will need more sharpening. So you enlarge the image, do your retouching, and then the last step is to go up our image. We're gonna go right up to, to actually the Filters, and let's go to Sharpen, and let's do an Unsharp Mask. And then you do this the same way that you would basically inside of Lightroom. Where you're gonna basically sharpen for details and the easiest way to do it is actually to, I would probably do this. On this view, let's click cancel, let's go back to Control + 0. And I like to sharpen either, there we go. Zoom in to basically where, in my mind like I'm basically blowing it up on the screen to be about the size of their face would be when this was blown up. You don't have to get a ruler out and start measuring things. But you know if it goes to 60 inches, their faces in this large of an image, in an image like this, their faces at 60 inches would probably be about maybe like that. So again, this is, we have the benefit of not being commercial photographers where we have to get everything like extremely precise. So from this view, this is where I would start adding my sharpening effects. So I'd go here, adjust my amount up to wherever I need. Adjust my radius, hit OK, save this out. You can also sharpen with like, there's plenty of different ways to sharpen. You can sharpen with a sharpening mask, like you can basically create the unsharp mask. You can do it, there's a bajillion tutorial on how to sharpen but we teach our people in the studio just to keep it simple and go straightforward. Cool, and I know we have to wrap, real quick, just one last thing. I would do the same thing with her flyaways. So we go on a new layer and just alt sample. And then just kind of help clean up a little bit of her flyaways just with a soft healing brush. Or a soft, a cloning brush, okay. And the simplest way to do this is to turn down the opacity a little bit to bring this hardness all the way down. And then you're just gonna Alt + Option select. Just kinda how we did earlier and just kinda paint stuff. Making sure that you're following the natural graduations and as you go you'll just use a, probably easier on this one to do a retouching before we enlarged actually. And as you go you're just gonna even things out while you're going, okay. So you're gonna keep to that and then just kinda sample up here, paint things out. Like I try not to, I'll leave most of the hair intact, I just try to take away the flyaways that are blown up and they look kinda crazy. So we try and make the flyaways look a little bit more natural, look more even, as we go through. So, if you have on strand sticking out. Cool.

Couples want to capture their commitment to each other in high-quality, creatively shot photographs. They also expect their bliss to appear natural and evocative. Photographers who are trying to build their engagement photography portfolio need to be able to juggle both technical and creative expectations. Pye Jirsa’s 
Incredible Engagement Photography will teach students how to strike this balance with basic equipment.

In this course, you’ll discover how to:

  • Use simple on- and off-camera flash lighting
  • Communicate effectively to devise creative, meaningful poses
  • Develop post-processing and overall workflow 
Drawing on lessons taught in Pye’s other courses (Photography 101, Lighting 101, and Lighting 201), you will learn how to adapt to a variety of different lighting situations – indoor and outdoor, natural and urban. You’ll also gain a sense of the importance of storytelling and of developing a disarming interaction style for putting couples at ease during a shoot. 

Conducting an engagement photography shoot requires a delicate mix of technical and interpersonal skills – but not an abundance of expensive, demanding equipment.



  • I think Pye Jirsa is one of the best, if not the best, instructor for photography on Creative Live. He is very personable, smart and approachable. He has a perfect blend of personality (comments, laughs, tangents..) to the amount of instruction. He asks the questions for you, because he knows you are thinking those questions right then. He's very good about identifying settings, gear, etc.. and not leaving us in the dark about how he "got the shot". He goes into great detail. His instructions flow, but are linear, which is helpful. He's very organized, and you can tell that he really put a lot of work into his presentations (slides, video, test shoots, live teaching, graphics, etc..) I have been listening to him for like 10 hours straight, and still haven't gotten tired of him. He keeps things moving, He's very funny too. Nice job, I've learned so much. :)
  • This course was AMAZING. I'd say int he past year or two I've fallen into a slump. Uninspired by my surroundings and uninspired by my clients. As a result, it showed through my work. My posing suffered as well and more than a handful of times some of my shoots became more than awkward. Then I bought this course and watched most of it in the course of a day. I walked away inspired, blown away, and renewed. The next day I walked into an engagement session confident. I gave my couples a quick overview on posing and then we just had fun in front of the camera. Immediately afterwards they texted me about how amazing their shoot was and how relaxed I made them feel about posing. The photos turned out fantastic to say the least. I've since shot several more engagement sessions and each one of them has been amazing. If anything, this course should inspire photographers to think outside the box and provide you with the necessary skills to take incredible engagement photos. Thank you Pye and Creative Live! I cannot speak more highly of this course. I should also state I purchased Pye's Natural Light course on SLR Lounge: this course is a wonderful addition to that. If you already own the natural light course and are hesitant about purchasing this one, don't. Buy it and reap the benefits!
  • This is by far one of the best courses I have taken. Pye makes learning fun and easy to understand. I feel like I have learned so much throughout the course, that I have truly advanced my photography skills. I am so excited to get out there and try so many of the techniques that he showed. I would love to take another course of his. The pricing for the course doesn't even compare to how wonderful the education truly is, I really got more than my money's worth on this one.