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Retouching technique -- portraits and skin

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Old 05-23-2008, 09:12 AM
Ron Kramer Ron Kramer is offline
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Join Date: May 2008
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Re: Retouching technique -- portraits and skin

Carlo - why not ask the guy you want to replicate? =)
I found this thread while doing a search for comments.

I am honored that you used my work as examples... The reply you received was correct. You can't make crap into candies...

I've been asked about my retouching and "how do you"... for the past 20 years... LONG before the days of digital and photoshop. That in itself says... "it's not photoshop". Photographers asked the same about my film work.

You see PWC (people with cameras) who aren't skilled in fine portraiture feel they can be pro's because the know their way around the camera and can take good pictures. I meet them all the time as they enter my studio looking for a job or intern position. I ask them their level of knowledge regarding fine portraiture and they talk a bit about fstops and shutter speeds and my reply is... no what do you know about fine portraiture... the camera is only a tool that we use to record our work. Like a surgeon uses a x-ray machine or a electrocardiogram to record his work. Using those machines is moot... without their knowledge. Just like saying I can swing a hammer doesn't make one a skilled carpenter. In my 28 years in operating a studio, I have never once had anyone contact me about work or internship who has any skills or knowledge in fine portraiture.

The camera is so little of what fine portrait photographers do, that I don't even consider myself a photographer. That is only the medium that I use to record my work so that I might sell prints of my work.

Retouching or print enhancement is an important part of our work as well, but like it was stated, garbage in... garbage out. Before digital, photographers would email me asking my "scan tricks" to make our film images look so good on the web. (most of my images on my VERY OUTDATED WEBSITE are from my film days). I would tell them - start with a EXCELLENT PRINT and you'll get a good scan. Start with a poor print and you'll get a LOUSY scan. We'll always loose some quality... so the best thing is to start with the best quality possible to begin with. And that means SHOOT IT RIGHT.

Other info to note is - while we can fix things with retouching, retouching takes time... and time is money! If we can shoot it right in camera and not do any post processing work - we've just made a lot more money. If we need to spend 30+ minutes per session tweaking the proofs - we might as well be in another line of work. We make money creating images, not retouching.

I created a place where I teach what I do and how I do it - it's called If you check it out you'll see all my students learn my ways (one with the force Luke) = ) very quickly. If you really want to learn to produce great work - start with lighting, posing and composition. Then you can enhance with retouching briefly.. rather than spending lots of time trying to fix problems not done properly at time of exposure.

My goal on PortraNET is to make all my students far better than I could ever be. And many of them have done just that. Flora (post above mine) is a perfect example of what not to do.... all those steps and masks and processes are mind boggling! I don't teach any of that... because I don't do any of that.
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