P L A N – B

The dream is a beautiful studio with floor to ceiling windows, a snug corner with plush seats, dark wood furniture scattered purposely around, lush green plants on the floor and units, a coffee table adorned with albums and table books & refreshments, a projector for client viewing, Sonos music system allowing clients to choose whatever music they want throughout their session, award winning images printed to the highest standard on walls, a full studio lighting set up with multiple choice backdrops at one end of the studio and a newborn area where the window light is and most of all…… my name above the door!

BUT ….. just in case my dreams don’t come true i should have a plan B right?

So if all else fails it will be time to get a job! I am thinking a Retoucher, i love editing photos so this would be a great route for me. After some searching i have found lots of jobs available for this, a little but further than i’d like to travel but it is an option.

For a Senior Retoucher the wages seem to start at around £30,000 to £45,000 p/a . . . which i could live with! 🙂

But i don’t think i could just walk into that job even with a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Film & Photography. Below is one of the job specs that i found:

One of the most creative and inspiring design agencies in the UK is looking for a senior retoucher to join their CGI team. You will be a creative visionary, brimming with imagination, who is looking to craft beautifully composed emotionally engaging images that capture the essence of a place or brand. You will be a master of light, composition and colour and will use technology like an alchemist, transforming each subject into magical, visual gold.
You will have established industry experience as a retoucher and a portfolio brimming with examples of beautiful work combining the emotional thinking with outstanding craft. As a lead retoucher, you will be responsible for leading the look of key projects, starting with the top level idea and taking ownership all the way through to delivery on all 2D image solutions.
If you are a senior retoucher who is looking for an opportunity to really spread your creative wings and push your skills to the absolute maximum to create a body of work that you’ll be extremely proud of, then this is the ideal job for you.

This was at the higher end of the pay scale but what was common in them all was to have a high level of editing software skills and a spanking portfolio! So hopefully by the end of my degree i will leave with these …hopefully 🙂

Here is a good article from a Professional Retoucher giving career advice –


Adding Fog

To create a fog effect i followed one of Phlearns videos –


I made a new layer and then using his fog brush which is available on his website i painted fog in different sizes and colours picking from the lighter colours that were in the image, i did this on a couple of different layers so that i could play with the opacity. I then used a gaussian blur on the fog layers because it looked fake so with a bit of blur it softened the edges and made it look more realistic.

To change the overall colour i added a curves layer and played round with the red, blue & green channels until i was happy with it, i wanted something that was a bit moody and cinematic.

And to finish it off i downloaded a photo of a crow off google images and threw that in for added eeriness! 🙂

Below is the before and after –

Adding Contour Foundation

Using an image of myself from our studio session last week i then followed one of Phlearns videos on youtube –


Where he shows how you can add contour makeup….genius! This will definitely come in handy for making portraits pop. I went a bit over-kill on my example but i just did it so it would stand out for this.

You use the colour pick tool and choose a shadow area then add a new layer and paint where the low lights are, for example under the cheek bone, at the temple. Then you do the same for the highlighted areas, pick a colour from there (make it lighter if needed) then paint in all the highlights, for example on top of the cheekbone, along the jawline.

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 19.44.10

Then individually, set each layer to Hard Light in the blending mode then add a gaussian blur quite a lot so there is no definition at the edges of where you have painted.

If the colours are too strong you need to go into IMAGE>ADJUSTMENTS>HUE/SATURATION and lower the saturation to what looks best.

Also if you need to remove some of the contoured areas you can add a layer mask to each of the layers and then using black just paint out those bits using a soft brush.


Creating Light Rays

For this i followed one of Phlearns videos on Youtube, he has brilliant tutorials and really easy to understand.


I needed an image that had the sun in the background, i probably could of found a better one if i had of looked longer but i didn’t want to spend ages getting lost in my archives!

The sun ray effect was achieved by using the brush tool, changing the shape dynamics,  scattering and the size of the brush tip shape. It changed the shape of the brush to different size dots which i then painted over the image on a new layer and then repeated again on another new layer using larger dots and concentrating them where the sun is.

A radial blur was then applied, making sure the centre of the radial was in the same place as the sun and then this was applied to both of those layers and it turned the dots into rays.

I then played with the blending modes of those layers until it looked realistic, i used screen, i wanted it to be quite subtle. It didn’t take very long to do and it was really interesting to see what effects can be created just by changing the brush and using the radial blur.

Universal Principles Of Design

This is a book dedicated to making the most out of the design of an object and determining how it is perceived to market it in the best way possible. And human psychology plays a huge role in this and how the brain perceives what it sees. I read through all the areas which seemed relevant to my photography, it is a big book though and i think it would be a handy one to own rather than loan so that i could reference it as and when needed.

Portrait Workshop

This year I am putting everything I have – time and money to better myself in the areas I want to focus on which is posing and marketing so I have invested money in two different workshops. One in April, with Sarah Janes Photography. She is based in Chester and I have followed her work for years, she covers weddings with her husband and she also has her Red Shoe business which is for womens portraiture. I love the way she makes women look so comfortable and at ease in their photographs, their natural beauty and personality really shines through and this is something I would like to learn more about.


sarah janes



Newborn Posing Workshop

I have booked myself a place on a newborn photography workshop in Cheshire on the 17th July, this is quite an investment but I hope to get a lot out of it. It is hosted by the very talented Jillian Greenhill –


She is an award winning newborn photographer and her photos are amazing and the standard that i would like to produce. The course covers newborn posing, safety, editing and marketing so i’m hoping this will be very valuable for me. Everyone that has done her course previously has said that it has excelled their business. I have already been doing some newborn work but I would like to back it up with more tuiton and certification.

Any qualifications I get will be put on my website and I think that they will be extra reassurance of my experience and capabilities for my clients.

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 10.55.08

TV Studio Cameras

Today was a really good lesson in the TV Studio, we got our hands on different cameras, the JVC’s, The Canon 650D and the Black Magic.

I was able to take notes on all the functions of the Canon 650D and the Black Magic, these were set up on the Safari tripods and I will be using the JVC next week.

The Black Magic is a lovely camera, quite heavy but feels such a sturdy piece of equipment. Very streamline with only a few buttons and a fairly straightforward menu system to use. It is a digital film camera, it has a really wide dynamic range of 12 stops which will give you quality footage preserving the extreme highlights and lowlights. It also has three lens mounts, MFT, EF & PL which gives you a huge choice of lenses that can be used with it. The main downside is the size of the files, when shooting in native 4K Raw you will get every bit of data straight from the sensor or you can shoot in ProRes and get high quality video files and both will use up a massive amount of space.  So not only do you need a powerful SSD card you would also need a computer with enough power to process such large files.

I would like to have a good play with it to see its potential.

The Canon 650D is an 18 megapixel digital camera. It has an LCD touchscreen, it can shoot up to 1080p and has an EF/EF-s Lens mount. It was definitely the most easiest to use out of the three, setting the aperture, shutter speed and ISO was straightforward and once switching it to Video Mode and Manual, zooming in using the zoom button on the back of the camera to view the subject close up on the LCD screen so we were able to focus manually with the lens to get as accurate as we could the camera was set up to use.

So out of the two, depending on where your footage is destined for then the Canon 650d at  around £300 is definitely the cheaper easier to use option, the Black Magic costs just under £2000 so it’s a lot more expensive and is suited much for larger projects.

The JVC … to be continued

My New Website

After many stressful hours and no sleep for 2 days i have built something that is close to what i would like my website to be like, i need to figure out how to use the blog section on it and i need a gallery. I used WordPress.com and did find limitations, i wish i had downloaded the software from wordpress.org but didn’t realise that until after i had started using the other one and then it was too late, but i’m happy with it so far  –


Dark Fairy

I entered the ‘Fairytale’ February Child Photo Competition


I found this competition only a couple of days before the last submission day so i didn’t have time to take another image specifically for it so i used one that i had taken the week prior of my daughter in the studio. I wanted to turn her into a fairy so i looked on youtube and found this video which gave me an idea what to do –


I downloaded some fairy wings brushes and added them in photoshop. I did this in lots of layers and kept building it up to try and make it look as real as i could (to my current photoshop abilities). Once i was happy with it i flattened all the layers and then used the dodge and burn tool to enhance the highlights and shadows on the dress and wings.

I didn’t win but it was exciting taking part and i am planning on entering the Black & White competition next…and this time i will be able to spend more time doing it.