I get it, when we first get Photoshop, or we start out we are so excited about Photoshop. When we learn a new technique or buy a new product we can't get enough of it and we go hog wild. Sometimes we don't even realize that we are doing these things. And sometimes many of us think it looks super rad and mega professional...but alas, it doesn't.
I can always tell what stage of photography someone is in by their Photoshop Skills.
At first no Photoshop skill exist...maybe a watermark. Then Photoshop comes in....and boy does it come in. So I have compiled a list of 15 Photoshop No-No's. Now I realize that some of you will take this as I'm talking to you and you might get a little mad, but I'm not dissing you at all. As a matter of fact each one of these No-No's I was guilty of myself. EVERY SINGLE ONE! And as time went on I started to realize what I was doing to my images.
SOOOO why is it that we over edit/over Photoshop images? Well I have a theory.
1. We are purely excited about our new skills and toys and tools. It's like that Barbie you got for Christmas when you were 7 and you didn't put her down for weeks. You changed her clothes 40 times a day and styled her hair till you ran out of ways to do a ponytail. You were just in love and so excited. That's what it's like when you first start using Photoshop. You're thrilled as can be and it's just so fun.
2. Photoshop = Professional ...FALSE! Sometimes we think that if we Photoshop something then we are more professional. Well.......guess what...that is not the truth. Photoshop should be used with a light hand to start with. Once you learn how to reel it in, you'll learn when enough is enough.
Okay now...let's jump into what these no-no's are all about it!
A common mistake many new Photoshop users make is that of over retouching skin.
I could have been the worst offender of this. I wanted skin super smooth...like perma botox. BUUUUT then I learned, that skin is supposed to have texture and it's perfectly fine to show skin texture. Even high fashion magazine show texture in their skin when they retouch. So use a light hand when retouching. It's perfectly fine to remove blemishes and to even out skin tone...but let's leave those freckles and beauty marks. Hey even leave those laugh lines...those are badges of honor to many. Unless a client asks you to remove them, keep them.
Now I like retouching skin as much as the next girl..photographer...person.....so I created probably the best retouching action I have ever seen. This set of actions retouches without losing details of the skin. It's super great! If you don't already have it...you should get it.
Oh brother, let's talk about Radioactive eyes, or Alien Eyes. I was MASSIVELY guilty of this one. I wanted those colors to shine and to sparkle. As a matter of fact I retouched the heck out of eyes. One time I retouched a candid of my daughter Ava and a friend commented on it and how the eyes looked fake. I totally got defensive and was all like "no that's how her eyes are". I knew I had overdone it, but I thought it looked real and cool...then I learned and I totally kick myself now.
Use a gentle hand when retouching the eyes. The whites of the eyes should look natural...unless they are bloodshot don't try to whiten them. Don't try to enhance the color of the eye either. Just let the eyes be eyes....not conductors for nuclear testing.
So when I first started shooting, I would look at other photographers work and wonder why my work wasn't as crisp. And I convinced myself it was only because they did it in Photoshop. So I found out about the sharpen filter and I went CRAZY! CRRRRRAAAYYYYYZZZZZYYYYYY!
Everything I could sharpen I did. I convinced myself that this was how it was done. No need for a better lens, a better camera, or even better camera skills...no way jose, it was done in Photoshop just like this. LIES I TELL YOU, LIES!
If you want sharp images, it will all start in your camera, what are you focusing on? Also equipment does have A LOT to do with the sharpness of the image. I SWEAR TO YOU that you will not get as sharp of an image with a kit lens as you will with a pro lens. I'm not saying you won't get good images, or even sharp images...but you will get a much sharper image with better skills and better equipment.
And there is a much better way to sharpen in Photoshop then using a sharpen filter. Try this.
Duplicate your background layer, then change the blending mode to soft light. After you do this feel free to add a layer mask and paint on where you want to pop...instead of making it sharp, you'll make it pop.
I'll keep this one short....... Noses are supposed to be seen......Over exposing them is never flattering or a good idea. Just don't.
And a follow up.....underexposed skin is not flattering..not to mention it shows every little skin flaw.
Oh I was a major violator of this one. I wanted my images to be colorful. So I thought the best way to do it was to boost the saturation. WRONG! Skin shouldn't glow like this...yes it can be glowing...but not like they just ate a glowstick.
I'm sure I will get hate mail on this one. So let's refrain please. I know this is super fun. We just learned how to desaturate an image and paint color on it, or how to remove the black and white layer and unleash the color underneath it and it was soooooo cool. But I am going to be brutal with you...it's not cool and rarely is it done right and in a way that is beautiful. It also is very dating. It is a technique that was cool back in 1995 and it had a great run...but its long LONG gone. If your client asks for it...just say no..SAY NO.
OOOHHHHHH RAISING MY HAND HERE. I was totally guilty of this. And even now, I might run 4 actions on an image...but guess what? They compliment each other and they are never taken to far. An image should still hold some realistic qualities and when we stack actions that don't go together on an image it just gets muddy and over processed. I LOVE photoshop actions and they cut my time in half so I will continue to use them..but I am here to say this. Not all actions fit every image. I have one specific action I really like using on almost all my images and that is "Magnifique" from Parisian Wishes...but it doesn't look good on all images so I have to be careful. So you might have a favorite action, but it might not fit all your images. So learn to adjust and roll with the punches.
Every now and then I love adding textures to my images..but there is a pretty distinct line when using textures. Don't over do it...textures aren't supposed to take away from the background of your image, but are to enhance and create an artistic flare.
When masking off textures from your image do so, so that it blends together in a very seamless way. You want it to look like it belongs.
OH GIRL...let me tell you. I seriously was the biggest offender of this one. When I learned about the lens flare render I went HOG WILD. I was putting flares where flares didn't belong. When using lens flares make sure they look like they could have happened. Obviously here in this image this lens flare doesn't belong...you can't see any light source that it would have come from. So throwing one on here is like throwing a balloon onto a cactus. It is no good.
So let me make a suggestion...skip the lens flare feature in Photoshop. They are unrealistic and creates a 'obvious' no no. If you're looking for good lens flares, check out mine here.
OKAY.....let's face it..the Liquify tool is pretty rad, and every gal likes to feel a little thinner, but let's be realistic when using it. Don't alter your clients so much that they don't even look like themselves. Let's pay close attention when liquifying that you don't also 'pull' the background with it. You want your clients to feel like you made them look their best and if it's noticeable that you liquified them they are going to question themselves and you might make them feel bad. Gentle hands people!
I am sure I will get a lot of opposition to this one. But I have my reasons.
So I am not saying don't watermark your images, but I am simply saying a ginormous watermark is totally unnecessary. Just place a small attractive watermark on your image and call it good. My first watermark was huge and tacky and when I look at those images I forget how crappy the images were because I'm so distracted by the horribly large watermark. I finally had someone that I trust let me know how atrocious it really was...from then on I learned.
So size it down...it's okay and you'll thank me later.
Alright, I know the trend right now is matte images. I love a good matte image and a good matte action. But when you use too much matte you are completely taking out all the contrast of the blacks and then your image becomes very artificial looking. You lose all depth and your image becomes very muddy. A simple matte layer will do the trick.
Oh vignettes...I know you want to bring the eye in...but too much vignette will bring the image down instead of elevating it. So use a easy hand with those vignettes.
Oh and last....I have been guilty of this...Learning all the tricks and doing them all on the same image. Pick your party....decide what you want to do and rock that. No need to use everything you have.
WELP ladies and gents....I hope this helps....or gives you a giggle. But I'm serious...I was the worst offender of them all, and now I KNOW how to create imagery with just the right amount of photoshop and just the right amount of goodness.
ROCK IT PEOPLE!
Enjoy one of my most recent favorite images. This image was photographed at my workshop that I taught in Paris France this past month.
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