Selective Color | Using Photoshop Tastefully

I wanted to talk for a minute about selective color…….  not for any particular reason other than it’s my blog and I can. 🙂  Remember…. when you hire a photographer you’re hiring a real person who has their own opinions and preferences and tastes, and most likely you’re hiring them because you feel that their sensibilities align with your own.

Selective color is a spiffy Photoshop enhancement technique that you’ve probably seen. It starts with a black and white photo, but little bits of the photo are left in color. For some kind of creative enhancement or emotional impact…. I’m not really sure.

Personally, I think it’s weird. And cheesy.  And I find the things that people choose to leave in color, and those that are left in black and white are just plain odd.

There are some ways to use this techinque that look pretty good, but those ways are few and far between. I’m thinking landscapes or scenery MAYBE. But portraits…. forget it. There is nothing worse than seeing a baby photo where the baby’s shirt is glowing pink while the baby herself is a dull corpselike black and white–and quite frankly that’s exactly what it looks like to me. Dead. I know how to do it, but I have to say–I can’t think of a single instance in which I’d willingly do that to a photo that was to have my name on it.

Be sure to ask yourself–does my photographer know how to use Photoshop? Specifically, does he or she know how to use it WELL and TASTEFULLY?  Do I like the samples they have in their portfolio? Do the colors look unrealistic, or do they look appealing?  Is it creative, or is it just plain weird?   Is it something you’d pay money for?

The images that your photographer takes from their camera is only about half of the process. We nail down the basic “bones” of the photo in camera, and then we flesh it out in the processing. Much of what you see on a website or a blog with regard to the colors, the saturation, the contrast, the tones, all has to do with the photographer’s special thumbprint in the editing process. It’s extremely personal and unique and is as easily identifiable as a person’s handwriting or an artist’s brushstroke.

Some photographers prefer super-vibrant, highly contrasted photos while others go for a softer, almost glowy sentimental look, and then there’s everything in between. It’s all good, and it’s all a matter of taste. Your job as a client is to do your research and find who meets your needs and who can provide you with the look that you want for your family.  There’s nothing worse than being approached by a potential client who says “I’m looking for somebody to take photos of my family.”  I appreciate the inquiry but I do feel that some research is in order. You shouldn’t settle for just “somebody.” If you want to invest your family’s time and money in having portraits made, you should look around and explore your options. WHO fits your idea best, WHOSE approach do you like, and not least of all, WHOSE photos do you admire the most and want for your own?  Don’t go for the first person you hear about, take the time to shop around and find the best fit for your situation. There are a lot of photographers out there, and you don’t want to settle for the first one that you just happen to know of.

Remember– the person you’re hiring is not just a photographer, they are an individual with specific tastes and styles and abilities, and levels of talent. Choose wisely.  This is the beauty of custom photography, the ability to work directly with the talent of the photographer.  If you want just “somebody,” I’m sure Sears has some convenient hours. 😉

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