Comments welcomed and encouraged
How do you know when a picture is done?
This can be a tough question to answer. I've asked that of artists who paint on canvas, as well as photographers working in the digital darkroom. I don't think that there is a universally accepted answer to this question.
Personally, I tend to stop before I get frustrated with an image. If it gets to that point, then I will typically clear all my adjustments, take a break and come back at it fresh and new.
Working an image until I get angry or cranky tends to result in lacklustre results. However there is something to be said for taking the time to experiment. To find a number of ways of doing things that just don't work for that specific subject matter. I'm told that Edison tried over 3000 designs before settling on a satisfactory lightbulb. It's okay to try. That's exactly how we learn what doesn't work.
My work in portraiture tends to be subtle. Adding a bit of texture, altering colours and tones, bringing up the shadows or perhaps making them more intense as the project requires. I love shooting portraits of people. But they're not truly complete until I have worked them in retouching software.
My personal touch includes the lighting, pose and of course the retouching or as I like to call it, the treatment. The treatment stage typically is 30 minutes in length, but I have been known to stretch it out to a few hours when I just can't decide which path to take the image down. In times like these, I may even scrub the work and start over completely from the basic image. There are no hard and fast rules. I just do what feels right and what I feel the image calls for.
Many of the images are layered with custom shot backgrounds and textures that I shoot over the winter months. I also will walk the city in search of background materials such as rusty surfaces, scratched metal walls, rocks, clouds and who knows what else. There are thousands of potential options for random textures available. A road trip to the nearest big city would allow me to add even more textures. A great way to spend a day in the city.
Post production as a way to make a portrait into a signature piece is important to get attention for your work. It's with this extra effort that your work will stand alone in a sea of copycat "photographers". I intend to continue growing as an artist with my personal approach to portraiture. My post-shoot treatments will help me to gain that growth. I hope that you will also find techniques that work for you in your quest to stand apart from everybody else with a camera.
Photo-Artist working a personal vision.
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