Things to take note of before, during and after the shoot
Before the shoot Make the set a comfortable environment
Having a set that is conducive and comfortable is always a good thing. Your subject may not always be a professional model, so setting the right environment and mood will help put them at ease. Music is a great way to set the mood very quickly. Prepare a playlist that best reflects the mood of the pictures you want to create.
The temperature of the studio or location is also a very important aspect of putting people at ease, as body temperature greatly affects your subject’s mood and ability to relax. Take proper care of them so they feel relaxed and present in the moment. You’ll have a better of chance of getting pictures that will look effortless.
Before a shoot, always sit where your subjects are going to be seated to get a sense of what they may be experiencing during the shoot. Put yourself in their shoes - is the air-con blowing into their face? Is the light too hot where they stand? Is there something in their line-of-sight to the camera that may distract them? Feel what they feel and your models will love you for the effort. And it will show in the pictures too.
During the shoot Establish good communication from the start
Clear, clean communication between you and the model is crucial. Make sure he/she can understand and hear you clearly, as a confused model will often activate all the wrong muscle groups on his/her face, resulting in unrelaxed facial expressions or an awkward image. Direct your subjects in their direction, not yours. For example, getting them to look left should be towards their left and not yours. Always project your voice. Remember that you are behind a camera and your voice may sound muffled, so it’s a good idea to keep yourself clear from other objects and direct the models with clear, audible instructions.
Always keep the subject informed of your moves. If you are simply adjusting focus, let them know; don’t keep them guessing whether a picture is going to be taken or not.
After the shoot Retouching
When editing my pictures in Adobe Photoshop CC, I always start with color grading to get the mood and feel going, and to establish the right tone for the image. I generally use the curves tool, and the hue and saturation for this.
I also work in a nondestructive manner and always have my main image as the background layer, retouching on a layer above it.
Unfortunately, there is just no easy way around retouching skin. So zoom in real close, work on it at the pore level and zoom out often to check the blend. I like to use the healing brush at a size that’s just a little bit bigger than the aw, and then use the stamp tool at a low opacity of 10% to smooth out the edges.
My key is to always strive for perfection but afterwards bringing back skin texture and grain to give the picture a more natural look, and end off with an overall layer of grain to achieve that lm-like nish. My setup is a double screen with all the tools on my right screen as I am right-handed and the image itself on my left screen. I also work on a large Wacom tablet for precision.