Beauty Shootout, Tacoma

In January I took part in a beauty shootout organized by Jennifer McIntyre in downtown Tacoma.

Sixteen models, sixteen photographers, ten makeup artists, six hairstylists, one designer, and one stylist.   It was a massive undertaking for the organizer, especially when many of the photographers (including myself) had never done a beauty shoot before.

There were six lighting stations with photographers and models constantly rotating between them.  It was an extremely interesting learning experience as you were working with the standard lighting setups for other photographers.  My tendency is to go for a very punchy, gridded lighting that’s close to the theatrical lighting I’m accustomed to working with.   Being forced to work with different lighting setups shows you the flaws (and uses) of your go-to setups very quickly.

After a rather exhausting day I was left with around a thousand photographs to go through and was tasked with returning at least one edited photograph for each time you shot with a model.  I was on the hook for nearly 40 fully edited photos.  This was problematic as take a very long time to edit.  The reason I take a long time to edit is that I have learned how to edit from a rather haphazard series of sources, from my own experience with the B&W darkroom to skimming a helpful but not comprehensive book by Scott Kelby, to a class in compositing in photoshop, to what has probably become the most common method of instruction for amateur photographers, youtube tutorials.  Applying a scattershot series of techniques might get you to an acceptable end result but as each photo provides a unique set of challenges not having a framework to approach your editing means a lot of dead ends and constant referrals to google to try to understand why the last youtube video you watched just didn’t work.

After struggling through the photos I finally broke down and purchased a video series on retouching from Pratik Naik.

Video is not my favorite format for learning as you have to sit there and watch the entire thing while taking notes.  I prefer to skim through a book or go through a series of blog posts and quickly extract the information I need to solve my immediate problem.  Its worked for my career as a software developer for the past 17 years, why shouldn’t it work for my my hobby?

The difference is that I know how to solve a business problem using software as I’ve been doing it for 40-70 hours a week since 1998.  Retouching… this is new.  Editing a landscape is not the same thing as removing a blemish or evening out skin tones.

One of the challenges for me is admitting when I need to start from Square One.  It would have saved me a great deal of time.