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Photographing Challenging Features

Lesson 39 of 39

Retouching: Full Figured Subject

Lindsay Adler

Photographing Challenging Features

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

39. Retouching: Full Figured Subject

Lesson Info

Retouching: Full Figured Subject

Let's talk, I just wanted to show you a little bit about contouring and what I would actually retouch, so I'm going to open up in Photoshop. Okay, so if I'm photographing and trying to flatter a curvier subject or a fuller figure subject, I try not to overlook a file. I'm not trying to make them look skinnier, but what I would like to do instead is define the waist a little bit more, and she's actually wearing shapewear that defines a waist, and that's one of the things that I personally encourage my subjects to wear shapewear 'cause it smooths everything out. That's kinda my style of it. I don't have to. But, if I go to filer, liquefy, one of the things I would like to do is define the waist because we don't care if someone's a size two or a size 22, we like a defined waist. Just gives a little bit of that hourglass shape. However, one of the problems I find that I've run into when I try to define the waist is, I'm messing up the shape of the arm, right, because when I liquefy and do ...

the forward warp tool, it grabbed the whole arm. But then when I grab a little brush, then I often just get these bumps, like it doesn't look smooth for me. So the tool that you wanna check out is called the freeze mask tool and it's on the left-hand side. Looks like a rectangle with a circle and a brush. So I grab the freeze mask tool, what I can do is I can freeze whatever I want to not move, so in this case, when I was defining more of the waist, I don't want the arm to move. So I freeze that in place and then I can pop back to the forward warp tool, make it big again, pull the waist in, and improve the shape. The compliment to the freeze mask tool is the thaw mask tool, 'cause then I can click it again and allow myself to thaw it. Now I can move if I wanna liquefy her arm or change the shape. Same thing over here, I don't mean to make her skinnier, but I would just pull on the waist there a tiny bit, and I also like to lower people's shoulders. So and that's like a little bit of what I would do in liquefy, if you look, I would do something like that. My goal was not to be like okay, let me change your dress size, but just a little bit more of that curvy shape. For the arms, I might liquefy a tiny bit, but keep it pretty subtle, especially here, the time that I liquefy I when it's my fault that the arm looks like that. For example, if I pose somebody holding like this and it smooshes out against their body, I'm gonna liquefy 'cause that was my fault, not theirs. But, one of the things I can do is I can make the arms look a little bit more toned, and that tends to be when photographing women more what they're concerned about. It's like, oh my arms look flabby. But I don't have to make it look skinny, I can make it look a little firmer, so the tool that I was, or the technique that I've used a couple of times was creating two curves, adjustment layers, one lighter and darker. And you notice this is like the third or fourth time that I've done this, but because what I'm doing is I'm painting light after the fact, that's the idea, I'm using light during a photoshoot to lighten and darken things and I maybe just didn't quite get it to where I wanted it to be, so I'm enhancing it. So you're painting with light the same way as you paint with light when you're photographing, but just gives you a little more control after the fact. So what I'll do is the exact same thing. Create my curves. Go to lighten for one. Command I to hide it, so I did one that's lighter. That's not how you spell lighter. Okay, and then another one for darker. Half moon cookie. Curves, pre-set, darker, command I, to hide it so I can apply that effect, then change it to darker, so now I can go ahead and paint. So what I can do in this instance is, if I want the arms to look more toned, I want them to look round instead of flat, that's the idea behind it, so I can darken down the edges and lighten up the center. So if I, and I'm gonna apply this a little heavier than I actually would just so you guys can see it. If I darken down the edges, ooh. Here. A little less than that. Darken down the edges a bit. (mumbles) Here. Okay, and let's... Highlight down the center, okay so, just take a look. So the arm, it doesn't make it look as flat, it makes it look a little bit rounder, a little bit more toned. So I tend to do something like that. But, I do that everywhere, I will do that on the bust. Highlights on the top, shadows on the bottom. On the legs, on the arms, on the clavicle, if the clavicles are visible I'll do that. So basically it's like whatever I didn't achieve with my lighting beforehand, anything I wanna pump up or improve, I can paint with the lighting, and that's actually, if you look at a lot of people that composite, they completely change the lighting in a shot that they've taken so that it works better. Well I don't need to go that extreme, but I know that I can control lighting in my shots after the fact. All right so let's just show you this before after, 'cause with the liquefy, and the contouring. All right, let's see if there's anyone else that I was forgetting. Okay, so the idea behind that and kinda what I was, my goal for you guys was, all right, the main tools that I'm using most of the time are not completely changing this shot, they're just getting rid of distractions so that's what I wanna encourage you to do is if you're looking at somebody, whatever the challenging feature may be, whether it's skin or maybe it was yellow teeth or something that you find distracting, it's not let's totally get rid of this thing, let's just not allow the viewer's eye to be drawn there and focused on it, like that's more how you should think about it, so if there's wrinkles, yeah, they're there, they should be there but don't have the viewer's eye say, oh wow, those wrinkles are dark, they should be kinda filled in, or the same thing with someone who's fuller figured, I don't need to be like, oh, they're completely, I need to make them look more slender, no I just wanna smooth out the lines, I wanna get rid of any curves that, or any bumps that are unflattering. Think of it kind of in that vein. So let me see if there are any questions. Yeah we have a couple of final wrap up questions here. Diana49 had asked, you mentioned that compromises are inevitable, as you've been saying all day long, but as a relatively new photographer, she's wondering, which of these problem areas are easiest to fix in post processing, like trying to minimize any after the shot work, which are you trying to get right in camera and which can you kinda let go for post? Yeah I mean, I think that the larger forehead, easy to fix on camera. That's not a big deal to me. I would say, the wrinkles take more time. That's the problem, it's time consuming and it takes practice, so I would try to get that more right in camera, that's something where you're more likely to go wrong. For flattering the body, I would try to get it right in camera 'cause they're going to see that effect. Something else that's easier to change would be, the shiny skin, that's relatively easier to change. What else? You have to change the redness in post, so, I'd say things like the big forehead or big chin, you can kinda fix a little bit, but see how it's just easier to do it in camera. Okay, great. One more that brings us sort of back to the beginning. Are you talking with the people that you're photographing, would you recommend talking to the people that you're photographing, asking them if they have any problem features or things that they're most sensitive about before you even start this photoshoot. How would you recommend people approach that? Yeah, no, that's like, here's the thing. I don't wanna bring it up, I don't wanna be like, "Hey what's wrong with you?" That kinda thing. What I usually try to do, like some of the things I'll do for somebody, I will tell them what I like about them, but I will say, okay, "So what is your favorite thing "about you that you want me to feature, "what do you love about yourself?" 'Cause I want the person to like actually stop and think what they're proud of and that actually gives me an insight into how they think. I found that if you say that, is there something that they hate, they usually will bring it up, but that's also why I like to show someone a picture. So I show them a picture and I'll say, "What do you think?" And if they say, "Oh my gosh, my nose looks too big." That's their chance to say it. I don't really wanna be like, "Okay, tell me what "you're concerned about," I'll just show them and then they'll let me know their concern. Yeah. Do you shoot tethered in the studio and let the person see the results? Such a good question, so I personally do shoot tethered. Everything that I do, I shoot tethered, but most of the reason that I'm doing that is because I work as a fashion photographer with a creative team. And so everybody wants to see how their piece to the equation is looking, how's the hair looking, how's the makeup looking, how's it translating? That's one of the reasons I'm shooting tethered. Here's my approach, is when I am shooting tethered, I start with it turned away. Give me some time to work this out. Get close, and then, when I've got something I like, "What do you think about this? "I love it, you look great." And then that's their chance. One more question there. You're great, perfect time, it's good. You've talked a lot about a lot of challenging features, but I was wondering about the mouth because I feel like the mouth can be very difficult if they don't care for their lip size or smile. Yeah, sure. Okay so challenges of mouth. Most of the time there's not anything you can do with that in the camera, it's going to be something with retouching. What is a little bit more difficult would be the way they're smiling or nervous, and that has to do with coaching expression and things like that, but for the most part, nothing in camera you're going to do about that, it's gonna be a Photoshop kinda thing. So, ready for final thoughts? I am. Okay, great, so, what I talked about before was that we have all these different tools available to us, so we've got our posing, and our camera angle and lens choice. We have our lighting, we also have Photoshop, we have a lot of things and that's before we actually get to any of the creative stuff, like those things aren't creative like the core of flattering people. Here's what I want you to keep in mind, is these things are really good references, but don't be like, okay, this person, larger forehead, I have to keep low, chin up. I can't use light that's high, like, you can, everyone's going to be different. So think of it this way. Think first what can you do to flatter this person, and then what are you trying to say with your photograph, because I don't want you to think every photo has to look the same and I don't want you to think every photo needs to be a big soft box with lots of fill really close, 'cause that's not going to express your vision. So figure out what you wanna say and how you can flatter the person and it's problem solving. I've found that one of the reasons I think I like photography so much is that I am a problem solver. And I was a huge, huge, huge nerd in high school, like I really, I loved school, loved it. And part of the reasons I loved solutions and I loved problem solving and I loved working with other people, and I think that's what I've realized later on, that I love that translates into my photography. So from this class, I'm encouraging you to think of yourselves as problem solvers. Don't think of it as a checklist for X, Y, Z, think of everyone as an individual, but use this as a reference to see which different tools you have available to you to bring out the best in that person.

Class Description

Photographers are tasked with flattering every subject that steps in front of their lens. Typically, those subjects are everyday people, not professional models. This can mean working with some challenging features along with varying degrees of confidence. Canon Explorer of Light and well-known fashion photographer Lindsay Adler walks through understanding the face and body as well as the photographic tools available to you make your clients best side shine. These features could range from a pronounced nose, large forehead, glasses, asymmetrical features, or defined wrinkles. In this course Lindsay will walk you through: 

  • How to analyze a face and draw attention to the strengths within it 
  • Posing and lighting techniques for challenging facial features 
  • Posing and lighting techniques for the skin and body 
  • Retouching tips for skin, glasses or discolored teeth 
This course will cover many challenging features and show you how posing, camera angles, lens choice and lighting can work together to help you have confidence in every shoot.


Sharma Shari

This class was amazing! It was great seeing a demo class with real people. As a wedding photographer that specializes in offbeat/non traditional couples, it is always good to see how I can enhance all my clients beautiful features, and make them feel their best and confident when I am taking their photos!

a Creativelive Student

I was so excited to get the chance to learn from Lindsay live, and this course did not disappoint! The techniques she shared were insightful and straightforward. I felt like seeing them on different subjects throughout the day really helped to cement the concepts and grow my photography tools to bring out the best in those I'm photographing. I'm not a studio photographer, but the ideas apply in natural light as well.

maria manolaros

Great class! Impressive amount of tips on posing, lighting and photoshop techniques , a real good no nonsense approach by superb teacher. Numerous amounts of thumbs ups