Images ©Photography by Emanuele
Spontaneity is in. Some of the photos professional photographers were producing years ago look as dated as if they belong to a different era. The poses tend to look stiff or awkward, never mind the outdated clothing and hairstyles.
Many of brides tell me they don’t want to be posed, that it looks fake. I certainly appreciate that no one wishes to look like a store mannequin. “Just take photos when I’m not looking” is another bridal request. I will point to one of my prints on the wall and say, “I understand; perhaps something like this?” “Yes!” is the usual reply. Then I tell her that I did pose the people in the photo. They are posed correctly, and that’s why they look natural.
At seminars I meet up-and-coming photographers who are not as interested in posing as my generation was. They would rather go natural, let the subjects do their own thing. That is certainly appropriate at times. But then there are times when posing will make the difference between an okay photo and one in which the subject looks amazing.
Why pose anyone in the first place? Because one of my responsibilities as a photographer is to capture the subject at his or her absolute best. Posing goes a long way to achieve this, if it’s done correctly. You don’t have to spend the entire session over-posing your subject to the point where you lose their interest and spontaneity, especially when the subjects are children.
That’s why the photojournalism style caught on so well with the public. It seeks to capture that sparkle of life and uniqueness of personality. In the past I have been guilty of paying so much attention to getting the “perfect pose” that I sacrificed capturing the spirit of the subject. I had a perfectly posed but “lifeless” subject.
A friend of mine runs a successful high-end family portrait business from her home. She shoots mostly outdoors and conducts the majority of her preview/sales sessions in the client’s home. I’ve always admired the fact that about 80 percent of her portrait sales are wall art canvas arrangements, or clusters. With a higher than average sale, she’d consistently “move the wall” in these sessions. I absolutely love to sell fine art wall portraits to clients. It’s not just for their higher margins and a reduced production workflow, but more important it’s the best way to showcase my work. This said, wall art sales have always required a bit more client persuasion on my part. Clients always seemed to naturally gravitate toward my albums or image presentation boxes. Could this simply be a lack of “visualization”? While I owned several Photoshop wall templates, they were inefficient and could not be done in real-time. My friend kindly revealed the secret to her success… Preveal.
Preveal is a simple, intuitive iPad application that transforms the dynamics of both in-home, or even in-studio sales sessions. After watching a brief video tutorial, I downloaded Preveal onto my iPad and was set up in less than 10 minutes.
The beauty of this application lies in its simplicity. After configuring the app with your free Dropbox subscription, you can simply load your session’s images at the touch of a button in an organized fashion.
Wall images ©2013 Cate Scaglione
Preveal enables three options for your virtual room setup. You can pre-load a JPEG of the client’s wall space (before the viewing session) in your Dropbox, use one of the many available standard room templates, or take a photo of the client’s wall from your iPad. If you want to use the real-time iPad photo, you’ll need to have strong natural or artificial light, otherwise your presentation will appear grainy and muddy. Clients truly appreciate the effort that you are configuring a product—not simply selling a product—to fit their home environment. With the quick glide of your fingers, clients will be impressed with your design savvy and high-end customization. This app made me feel as prodigious with my iPad skills as the Geniuses at my local Apple store.
There’s not much work or preparation entailed with this application. Preveal contains pre-configured wall arrangements from top vendors like Bay Photo, Pro DPI, and Design Aglow so you don’t need to start from scratch. Although, you could choose to reconfigure any of these to your liking, by saving it as a favorite.
You can create unique and elegant imagery by adding textures to your photos in Photoshop. It can be quite time consuming to do it manually by opening the texture, draging and droping it into your image, and changing the layer blending mode. If you want to add another texture, you have to repeat the steps.
There is a much faster way to accomplish this, and that is by adding textures in an automated Photoshop action. This is how to do it.
Open a texture in Photoshop. Make certain the resolution is high, I make mine at least 4,500x3,600 pixels. In Photoshop go to Edit > Define Pattern. Name your new pattern and click OK.
Creating your texture action
Open an image and make certain your Actions palette is active. Click on Create New Action and name your action. Click Record.
Now you are recording your steps in Photoshop. The first step is to duplicate the image so that you're not working on an original photo. Go to Image > Duplicate.
Next, duplicate the background layer, ctrl/cmd-J. Click on Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer button at the bottom of your Layers palette. From the pop-up menu select Pattern, and select the pattern you just created. Now change the layer blending mode of the pattern layer to Soft Light.
The next step is to Rasterize the pattern layer. Make certain that your Pattern layer is selected, and click on Layer > Rasterize > Layer. The reason for doing this is so that you can use Photoshop’s Free Transform tool (ctrl/cmd-T) to resize the texture if you need to, after the action has finished.
Now go to your Actions tab and stop the action. Run the action on an image to test it.
I usually use two to five textures in an image. You can turn many of your favourite textures into Photoshop patterns using this technique, and then add them using this action. When a texture doesn't work with an image, you can simply delete that layer or turn it off.
Experiment with different texture combinations and layer blending modes
The layer blending mode I use most often is Soft Light, but I sometimes use Overlay or Hard Light, and reduce the opacity of the texture layer.
You can also have a duplicate of your photo on top of your textures in the layers palette and change the layer blending mode of the duplicate to soft light. This will give you a different effect.
Brush away, re-size, Gaussian Blur
You can easily brush on your textures layer mask to reduce its effect anywhere in the image. I usually brush away most of the texture from people in an image.
I use one of Photoshop’s standard soft brushes and set the opacity to about 60% then brush away the texture and/or reduce the opacity of the texture layer.
Sometimes it’s faster to drag part of the texture off of the image using the Free Transform tool.
If you apply Gaussian Blur (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur) to any of your texture layers when they are in the Soft Light or Overlay blending mode, it will nicely soften the texture and give your image a smooth look. I sometimes do this to one texture, while leaving other textures alone.
Add a black and white adjustment layer
By adding a black and white adjustment layer you will not only see if black and white suits your image. You can reduce the opacity of the layer and have some color showing through for an antique color effect.
Gavin Phillips has been developing complex Photoshop actions for photographers for over 12 years. Professional Photographer magazine readers receive a 60% discount on the latest set of 'Vintage Color' texture actions.