Speed Edit Perfect Heart Ballarina

This is a fine art photoshop speed edit. You can see in this video I do some basic color balancing, light manipulation, basic skin retouching, soft face contouring, color replacement, and texture overlay.

In this video I used Portraiture for the base skin retouching. I like how it does an overall light skin smooth. I will go back and remove any remaining blemishes afterwards. You will also see me to some soft face contouring. I refer to it as soft skin smoothing or contouring because I like to keep the essence of a model’s face. I can do more of an extreme version but I’m not a fan of the high fashion standards where everyone has a perfect jaw line or the perfect pout and they are no longer recognizable. I believe people are organic matters that have different features that make them beautiful.

I always use Jessica Drossin’s Textures exclusively. This particular edit I used one from the Illumination collection you can find it here. They are fun to use because it always transforms your photo and gives it interesting depth and texture.

Fun Fact: If you attended 2015 MAP Getaway with Chuck Arlund you’ll recognize the model. Gotta love Amy.

Dare to be Different

Do you remember the old 7-Up commercial? The one that said it was the Uncola? I’m giving my age away, but what a brilliant marketing campaign. They certainly were not the only non-cola soda on the market, but they were the only ones who promoted it so clearly. It was an easy to understand (and obvious) message and it was very successful for them.

Speaking of success, talking with successful photographers all over the country inspires me. Their ideas and creativity often seem endless and it can be in the form of photography, Photoshop techniques, Corel Painter skills, photography marketing or branding pieces that represent their business personality. Everyone is as unique as his or her own fingerprints, but how in the heck do you communicate that? How do you create your Uncola?

I was on the phone recently with one of our MAP members, Ramon Nayar, ISO Splash Photography, Naperville, IL. Besides being one of the most talented and versatile photographers I know, he is also what I call a “warm strategist”. A “warm strategist” is someone who thinks things through and prepares for future growth with the consumers experience in mind. He shared some things with me that I have included in this post.


ISO Splash Statement
– Nothing is standard in my studio, including crops and sizes.

Brilliant! It’s simple and easy to understand. This statement could be repeated during a conversation or added to any marketing piece. It hits you like a slap in the face, but in a good way. Can you imagine how refreshing that must be to the consumer? Nothing is standard. What? Where is the same old line I get from all those other photographers who talk about 8×10’s and 20×24’s? If nothing is standard then that means I won’t look average or standard either. I won’t have an average or standard experience when I come the studio. See where this is leading?


ISO Splash Statement
– I want people’s jaws to drop when they walk into my studio.

Regardless of where you meet with a potential client, a studio or on-location, wow them in every way. Tap into all the senses (there are actually more than the 5 senseshttp://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2010/07/humans-have-a-lot-more-than-five-senses) but make sure you tap into the main 5 – sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. Pleasant aromas, something tasty to snack on, fabulous press printed materials with interesting folds and textures to see and touch and pleasant music playing in the background. All of this adds up to little things making a big difference. Your work has to be visually stimulating and displayed in a way that inspires people similar to what a furniture showroom does at a furniture store. Inspiration for multiple products begins before the session, not after.


ISO Splash Statement
– I explain to my clients how we are going to change the whole atmosphere, environment and mood in a room with the prints they purchase from me.

Ramon observes space and people and he knows how and what to say naturally to build rapport and get the customer excited. When you are genuinely excited, it transfers over to the customer. An overall “room experience” is much more exciting than talking about print sizes or inches. People can’t relate to inches, to them it sounds like feet. If you put it in context of the emotional state of ownership, then it becomes more than paper and inches. It becomes more about the room and how that room is going to make you feel every time you walk into it.

In addition, most consumers don’t know how to decorate. Do you ever watch those HGTV shows where they transform a room from ugly to gorgeous? That’s what the right display of your images can do for the consumer’s room. I’ve always thought it would be cool to create a photography promotional piece showing a before and after room makeover using portraits. Anyone want to try it? Give me a call. How different would that be from what the competition promotes?

What are you doing to be different? You might take black and white photography, but how is your black and white photography different from your competition?  What products are you offering that are unique and exciting? Is it time to reinvent your studio? Go study under a new mentor. Maybe get a new background or start a new product line.  Refresh your brand and website. Get that cool new press printed piece you’ve been talking about forever with fun folds that screams “you’re different”. When you do these things, it’s like wearing new clothes. You not only look better, but you feel more confident, creative and productive.

Life is too short. Don’t be average or standard! There’s too much of that in this world and you are way too talented. Tell the consumer how you’re different and why you’re great. Why they should pass 5 other studios to come to you and gladly pay more for what you do. Now that is effective marketing! Ask yourself why you pay more at your favorite restaurant and what you can do to create the same buzz about your studio. One last hint – it’s the little things along the way that make the difference.

Submitting Images for Print Competition

If you are a professional photographer, chances are you have either entered a print competition or thought about it. I’ve always thought the name should be changed to “Personal Print Challenge” because in my mind, the only competition is with myself to constantly improve. It’s not about winning awards, beating other photographers or breaking records. If that happens, fine. For me it’s about improving my craft each and every year. In any case, a new season of print competition is upon us and you might be considering submitting some images.

There are a number of opportunities for you to enter images even before the official PPA submission deadline. You might consider submitting images in your own state or regional competition first. This gives you the opportunity to see how your images score first-hand by sitting in the judging room and listening to any comments the judges make. If you have more questions, you can also speak to one of the judges after the competition and ask him or her to give you some personal advice and opinions about your prints. They’re usually more than willing to give you some valuable feedback and you’ll learn a lot.

Once you learn where and when the competition is, you’ll need to get your images selected. There’s a potential merit image on your hard drive somewhere, right? But which one has the most potential? Which one will give you a couple of extra points and take you to the top of the scores? Here is the link to PPA’s article titled “12 Elements to a Merit Image”

All of the elements are important, but originality is one of the most important considerations for you to keep in mind. Just like in business, if you look like everyone else, you will have a hard time standing out. Judges see so many images and most of them are technically well executed and beautiful, but sometimes a particular print stands out like a bright light in a dark room. You know the kind I’m talking about. It just has that “wow” factor the minute you see it and you want to keep looking at it. It can be because of an extra special strength in one or more of the 12 elements used to judge a print, but usually the impact just smacks you in the face.

Personally, I always strive to challenge myself on something unique in each of my submissions. Sometimes that can be risky, the judges will either get it and I’ll be rewarded a few extra points or they won’t see my “genius” and it will cost me some points. Either way, I always feel that as long as I keep challenging myself artistically and creatively, I’ll always feel good about my choices regardless of what an image has scored.

Originality is harder when you are newer to competition. A good source of inspiration is to look through the PPA Loan and Show books.


If you are newer to competition, don’t worry about embarrassing yourself. Be open to learning and don’t take it too personally. If you’re the overly sensitive type, my advice is not to enter. If potential criticism and average scores ruin your whole experience and continue to bother you for many days afterwards, print competition may not be for you. I’ve heard it described by some that print judging is like standing in front of a room full of people naked. It can take a thick skin to put your heart and passion on the table, but always keep in mind that you are no less of a person, or less valued by your clients or your peers because you receive average scores. On the other hand, you’re not going to suddenly get rich if all your prints score very high and you win lots of awards. The latter sure feels a lot better and gives you more confidence, but as long as you learn something in the process, you’re bettering yourself, your business and your craft. Your willingness to constantly improve will pay off on many levels.

In the words from 1989’s Dead Poets Society –  “Boys, you must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said, ‘Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.’ Don’t be resigned to that. Break out!”

I encourage all of you to break out. Challenge yourself and your creativity by entering print competition. You will be glad you did.