A few years ago I was shooting an event and happened to capture this image while taking a break from the action. Believe me, there was no prep or forethought given to this pose, as you can readily see.
However when I was downloading my images later that evening, I stopped because her expression and pose captured my attention. I had given no instructions, only pointed my camera and asked for a smile.
Of course the question becomes, “What do I do with this image?” I love the expression, but everything other than that is wrong: background clutter, flat lighting, distracting background color, and a number of other issues that seemed to render this image as unusable for anything other than a casual toss into the photo album pile. You know, that place where everyone puts all of the family pictures.
But, let’s try a few things and see what we can do. I began by editing the image as I would any portrait. Following that, I quickly moved to my “filter” section in Photoshop. Scanning down through my choices, I landed on lighting effects found in the render folder. I have used this filter before to create some subtle highlighting, but this time I wanted to do something far more dramatic. Using the “Omni” setting I increased the intensity level to +28, and adjusted the ambient level to -4. Next, I adjusted the edited area to cover only the circumference of her face. This created a somewhat extreme vignette that camouflaged the background clutter. I also centered the highlight on to her left cheek. This gave the left side of her face a slightly stronger highlight, somewhat compensating for the original flat lighting.
While this eliminated most of the issues I had from the original, I still wondered if more could be done. So for my final step, I simply used a square crop to fully eliminate the background clutter.
While this may not be something I would present to a client, it sure is an improvement from the original.
So even with a casual shot, there just may be the possibility for something more.