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CreatiFocus, Stories


the journeys behind the photos

REtouchy Subject

CreatiFocus, Stories

Opinion Kirsty Withams

REtouchy Subject!

REtouchy subject, its all light and shadows!

It’s incredible how retouching causes such a debate nowadays, people referred back to the good old days of print photography before Photoshop as if if exactly what came out of the camera would go into a magazine. This is simply not true, retouching used to be done by hand on each of these photographs and retouching has been around for a long long time. So whether hand-painting photographs or digitally retouching with Photoshop, retouching has its place in photography for various reasons.

For me it’s simple when we take a photo we also shine light onto our subjects, this inevitably means we are also creating shadow. These shadows wouldn’t normally be there or if they were there they wouldn’t be very apparent, but when shining a bright light on a face, things like wrinkles suddenly become much more apparent as does every little blemish because they now have a shadow. If you were standing talking to somebody you wouldn’t notice that blemish or that wrinkle, it wouldn’t stand out it’s only the light that’s creating this shadow.

Similarly when we look at somebody that standing in front of us we have a 3D view of them we can see how rounded their shape is, we see the dimensions of them. In a 2d picture you can’t see that, the body is flattened, so when someone wears a flowy dress the camera will compress the body to make it appear that the body goes to the limit of that dress or material. This is one of the reasons I ask clients to wear form fitting clothing. For ladies who have a small waist and hips but a larger bum compression in a camera can also skew it too. But good posing and a little help in photoshop can rectify all of these problems and should definitely not be frowned upon.

I always think of using photoshop as a tool to make the subject look like the person that stood in front of me. I believe in keeping the features that I noticed and reducing those that I didn’t. If somebody is noticibly, heavily lined in real life, that’s a part of them, I’d soften them but i’d be unlikely to remove the lines unless requested, because it’s clearly a part of them. If they had barely noticeable lines face to face but the strobes or lights suddenly lines became noticeable I would most definitely reduce these, the same for any blemishes or or strange shadows that appear because of the light. Other things like flaky makeup, rogue hairs, clothing bumps and mishaps are all a given.

Digital art created by photo manipulation is another thing entirely and certainly has a place in the art world and there are some incredible examples around.

As with everything sometimes there are extremes where the subject looks 40 years younger or doesn’t look recognisable at all and hey if thats what the client has requested then who am I to argue! In my experience generally people want to see themselves, themselves in the best possible light, in an outfit that fits perfectly, after 12 hours sleep, no stress in their lives and a professional makeup artist on hand, but still themselves and photoshop allows us to do that.

What are your opinions on photoshop, is it the magic behind the curtain that you want to know nothing about? Is it something you have strong opinions on? Do you think its a tool that when used well is great, but when poorly used is awful?

Rock Chick to Glam Chic

CreatiFocus, Stories


Rock Chick to Glam Chic!

Whilst you’ll never take the Rock chick out of the girl you can always add a bit of glamourous chic!

Anyone that knows Annette, knows she is the most kindest, considerate and generous person you have ever met. Annette is always supporting people (and animals), boosting and helping them wherever she can. She is pretty much one of the nicest human being I have ever met and we can easily chat for hours and hours.

Last year was meant to be her big birthday celebration, celebrating her 50th birthday but COVID and a pretty crappy year had other ideas. Unable to see her family back in the UK and despite enjoying her amazing walking virtual tours of Liverpudlian parks with her beautiful daughter, its not been easy.
So we used this shoot as an opportunity to get dressed up and celebrate Annette! I had envisaged lots of black but she fell in love with the beautiful red dresses so we got wardrobe and accessories organised.  To start with Annette hid behind her hair, but as we continued her confidence grew. From the moment she wore the dress though, her posture changed, her smile changed, no longer a nervous one, she beamed and her eyes lit up.  She found her inner glam!!  So we added a silver crown and some roses, because why not?
Before we knew it three hours had passed! It was such a great shoot and although Annette was a little tired afterwards she really enjoyed the experience and absolutely loved her photos as well.  See more images from this shoot here.

Wow what an experience, a warm and friendly welcome and then explanation about the shoot and how to pose for the best effect . Felt so comfortable and at ease and discovered a very glam version of myself , my confidence bloomed during the shoot thanks to Kirsty’s skill and knowledge and her knack of making it fun . Highly recommended and I can’t wait to do it again


Friendshoots Part One

CreatiFocus, Stories


Friendshoot Part One

My journey into portrait photography started with some of my best friends. In late 2014 I started to focus on portraiture as a business and wanted to further develop my photography skills, I was in need of models, so Sophie volunteered to be my guinea pig!  We arranged a couple of sessions, first on location and then a full studio portrait shoot, with lights, backdrops etc. I learnt so much, but it turned out it wasn’t just about me developing my photography skills. 

Sophie and I had built a friendship that some might say was a little unorthodox, as she is my husbands ex sister-in-law, but  over the years we developed a great friendship. Sophie had always wanted to be a Mum, but unfortunately came up against many hurdles and in 2009 she underwent gastric surgery and literally became half the woman she had been before.

Following that huge achievement her and her husband Terry embarked on their IVF journey.  Not only did they experience the difficulties associated with IVF but many of the heartaches too,  yet despite how incredibly hard it was for them, they persevered. I still remember the day she told me she was pregnant with her son, it felt different from the other times, even Sophie seemed different and although the pregnancy was Rocky,  they were blessed with their beautiful son Orlando in February 2013. 

Even though Sophie had volunteered and everyone else could see how beautiful she was (no matter what size she was), Sophie lacked confidence in herself and her new body!  This lack of confidence meant she was nervous to start with, but the more time we spent playing around and producing some fab images, the more Sophie’s confidence grew! I directed her movements, we went through poses, changed outfits and most importantly made sure she was comfortable. Incredibly Sophie wore an amazing corset showing her arms, something she would have really struggled with before.  It was a great experience to see someone become so confident in front of me. 

Portrait photography can be just about taking a photo of the person in front of you, but for me it became apparent it was much more, helping my clients see how the world saw them and helping their confidence grow was now a big part of it.

Six years and many photoshoots later, this is one of my favourite set of images!  Click here to see more images from Sophie’s sesssion. 

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