What Difference Does Artwork Make?

 

The Myth of Digital Camera Files

Digital cameras record light and use computer chips to define an image. What most people do not understand are the limitations of the technology. Computer chips are limited in what they can record. They must also compress information to make it a manageable size. The end result is that without significant artwork, original camera files are not even close to being ready for reproduction.

The compromises of digital photography are “necessary evils”. The good news is that “raw” digital files can be “developed” to all but eliminate the limitations of digital capture. The process of “developing” an image is not automatic and requires specific tools and skills to do well.

Think of the images recorded by a digital camera as a “rough draft”, not the finished product. Digital cameras create files that are intended to be adjusted and enhanced before printing. Put on your chef hat for a moment. A great photographer or digital artist uses fine technique and “seasons” each digital file to bring out the best in the image. By adjusting exposure, color balance, contrast, saturation and more, the artist elevates the quality of the image just like a great chef elevates the quality and taste of his raw ingredients.

Our “artwork” begins at the “develop” stage, where every image is “seasoned” with our “secret sauce”. (am I taking the analogy too far?)

 

The Next Step – the Image Premier Presentation

  • The Image Premier is amazing fun…and it usually brings tears to the eyes. Portraits come alive on the screen and suddenly the intangible concept of the portrait comes to life.
  • During this presentation we help our clients select their favorites. We offer honest comments on the strengths and weakness of every image. We take detailed notes on artwork.
  • After favorites are chosen we make suggestions on possible uses for each portrait. We can show individual or groups of portraits in any size and in any arrangement. More notes are taken.
  • When the presentation and order is complete we take our detailed notes and begin the Artistry process..

 

The Artistry phase – Taking Artwork to the Next Level

The artwork process began as we “seasoned” each image to bring out its best qualities. Now we enter the realm of interpretation. Working from a well prepared image we start making specific local and global changes that take the image to the next level.

Localized Adjustments

  • From this point forward, your portraits are in the hands of Sherry, our amazing portrait artist. Sherry refines intricate details. The notes from the Image Premier, and often a drawing, guide her as she begins her adjustments.
  • Each person in a portrait receives individual attention. Local adjustments include “retouching” hair, skin, eyes and hands. Blemishes are removed, skin is smoothed, highlights and shadows are blended on each subject. The end result is only obvious if you put the before and after side by side. All of us want to look our best. Sherry’s passion is to make it appear completely natural.

Special Requests and Changes

  • We do not make major changes to personal appearance or clothing unless it is requested. However, we do receive many such requests. Braces can be removed. So can tattoos. We have “fixed” bad hair days and bad hair coloring. In the hands of a highly skilled artist, there is a lot that is possible.
  • Sometimes clothing changes are requested. For example, we might change the color of a badly matched shirt or sweater to better match the palette of the photograph.

Global Adjustments

When all the fine detail work is complete, the overall image receives final “tweaks”. Outdoor portraits may benefit from a better color or clouds in an otherwise overcast sky. We frequently vignette or darken the corners of portraits to help draw the eye into the portrait.

Finally, the image is prepared for printing. Subtle adjustments made to adjust for the surface the image will be printed on. For example, a canvas “Gallery” portrait has lower contrast than a “Contemporary” acrylic. The master file is adjusted to compensate for these differences.

Each portrait we deliver goes through this complete process. It is time-intensive, and worth every minute. The end result is art worthy of hanging in your home. We hope you agree.

 

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If you are considering family portraits, you will want to read this report first!

With over 30 years of experience photographing families, Dennis Walsh shares his thougths on what to look for when hiring a professional photographer. 

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