One of the things that’s different about being a Clearwater Beach Photographer is that you typically are the busiest when everyone else is on vacation. Thanksgiving is no exception. The week of Thanksgiving we are working every day photographing families who have come to Clearwater, Indian Rocks Beach, Treasure Island and the other small beach towns to spend time with family. We met some great families this week and took a lot of portraits on the beach!
We always go the extra mile when creating your family portraits from Clearwater Beach. The whole vision Clearwater Beach Portraits was originally built upon was the concept of offering truly fantastic family portraits at the beach without sacrificing quality. We try our hardest to treat every single customer like a million bucks. Believe it or not, each and everyone of you are deeply valued by us. We literally work around the clock at this business. 7-days a week, 365 days a year. We love what we do so it doesn’t really feel like work. Honestly what a day looks like for us is from the moment we wake up after we drop our kids off at school, we are behind the computer editing, retouching, fielding phone calls, and preparing for new sessions. We take small breaks throughout the day for family time. But often editing goes on throughout the day till about midnight or 1am. We get a lot of questions from other photographers and customers about the work that goes into our portraiture. To put it simply there are no shortcuts. We work long hours.
Clearwater Beach Portraits was built around the simple belief that good old fashioned hard work, drive, determination, and a solid work ethic would bring us lots of customers. That simple foundation is what has made our business a success. So many photographers these days seem to want to “get rich quick”. It just doesn’t work that way. There are no shortcuts that will ever work, there is no big secret, besides just work hard and put out the best work you can possibly put out and the customers will follow. We never stop learning, we never stop growing, we never stop listening to our customers, and we never stop doing our very best to always over deliver to our customers and try to wow them every time! Really, we recognize it is our customers that have made Clearwater Beach Portraits such a success. We are so thankful for that.
So in this blog post we’d like to show you an example of one of the many little things that go on behind the scenes. Sometimes we have an amazing base for a portrait, but one of the elements is off. For instance in this image, we have a great looking family. It is a solid looking natural light base portrait photographed with the Leica M. Smiling kids and happy mom. However occasionally, everyone is not in sync. Sometimes the kids get distracted or even the adults do. The beach can be a stimulating environment with a lot going on. So it is easy to get distracted when having your picture taken at the beach. We over shoot a good amount frames for each set up. So if needed we can piece together the image later. We prefer to get it in one shot and 90% of the time that is the case. But in this example. It just wasn’t the case.
In all the other images in the series it was the kids that were distracted. We don’t know what was going on behind us. Perhaps a giant sea monster climbed out of the sea or something. Who knows… So in this case we had to do a face swap, otherwise known as a head swap. Swapping heads is never a good idea. So photographers with years of retouching experience often just swap faces. Not whole heads.
So who’s face did we swap from another image? Dad… We chose the frame for the base portrait where we only needed to correct one person instead of choosing the frame where both the children were looking away.
Many photographers make this seem like a very hard, long drawn out process. One which they should charge big bucks for. In reality it takes about 10 minutes or so. Not as big of a deal as what many portrait photographers make it out to be. Once you get really good at it. You can knock it out in 5 minutes or less.
Basically the process starts with “cutting” or “copying” out a sample area of the picture you want to borrow the corrected face from, to bring into your portrait.
Then you line it up over the master portrait. Making sure the head positions are similar and aligned right. It is critical that you have a similar shot with the correct proportions. Sometimes a bit of manipulation is required to make it work proportionately. No big deal.
Once you are all lined up. You create a layer mask for the layer you are sampling from.
Fill in the layer mask with black and paint back in with a white paint brush only the facial features you want to bring in and overlay.
Simple as that. Ok, well maybe not simple… We may have lost you. But you get the idea of how we take your portraits to the next level.
…. and that is how we take an amazing family portrait that another photographer may have otherwise discarded and turn it into a beautiful finished image.
We also did our famous finishing artistic touches to the image in order to liven it up and make it vivid. But we aren’t sharing that process. Because, that is our secret sauce… 😉
Here is the process we just outlined for you. Step by Step in Pictures.