“When most people think ‘Photoshop retouching’ they think pores, making eyes bright and hair shiny, but there are a lot of different things you can do.” That’s how Aaron Nace kicked off the conversation during his class, Perfecting Environmental Portraits in Photoshop. Environmental portraits place the subject in context – which lends meaning and adds interest but can easily distract from the primary subject.
In order to ensure your environmental portraits strike the right balance of keeping this interesting while keeping the viewer focused on the intended focal point, Aaron offered some simple tips that make your retouching process more streamlined and effective.
1. Mark it up.
“To start out, I like to identify everything that kind of bugs me about an image.”
“I get a red pin and I circle things that bug me. – it’s not adding to the image – it doesn’t need to be there.”
“Anything around the border that calls attention away from the subject, I really want to get rid of.”
2. Do a quick and dirty edit.
“I’m not always sure if I’m going to like it.”
“For anything that is complicated in Photoshop – do it rough and quick and see if you like it. It’s like doing a sketch first.”
3. Lighten and sharpen the eyes.
“In analyzing an environmental portrait you want to analyze where you want your viewer looking.”
“You can use blur to take your eye away or sharpening to draw your eye in.”
“Make it darker and your eye won’t want to spend as much time.”
And remember: “Everyone has an armpit that needs retouching.”