Making Awesome Photos While Drinking Great American Beer - Part 4

I have never written a blog post that was so long I had to separate it into 4 parts. Hell, I don’t think I’ve ever written a blog post that was more than 500 words. Anyway, this is the last part of this series. I promise. If you’ve been following along with the last 3 posts then you know the story about how I got this assignment, what the production day was like and how I learned to be a product photographer in a day. Well, in this post I want to talk about retouching and the reasons for stylizing the images in the way we did.

Way back in February in my initial meeting with Yuengling we discussed the retouching style. The creative team wanted these images to have a gritty feeling to them and they had seen these shots of JP Harris and The Tough Choices in my portfolio.

Lifestyle Photographer Philadelphia, PA Ryan Smith Photography

They were interested in how I created the gritty texture and if it could be applied to other photos. I said absolutely as I had been wanting to apply this kind of treatment to another assignment for some time. It’s not the kind of aesthetic I would use all the time, but in certain situations I think it works really well.

In this case we knew that our final images would have multiple layers of texture, but would be very different from these shots of the Tough Choices. I collect textures. Sometimes I see a wood grain or a rusty tank and photograph it for later use. Other times I download textures from online sources. In the case with these Yuengling photos I ended up using anywhere from 2 texture layers to 6 texture layers on each photo. Each texture requires a different approach and different level of opacity. I mask certain areas, enhance others and play with various blending modes. No combination of textures is ever the same for every photo so this can at times be painstakingly slow.

I consider myself to be more of a shooter, but I also really enjoy cranking some music and getting lost in photoshop land. Each of the final images ended up somewhere in the range of 15 layer files at around 1 - 1.5 GB each. They’re big.

I went back and forth with Amy Whitehead and Regina Fanelli to fine tune the layers and finalize each image for delivery. This kind of retouching is very much a trial and error kind of approach. Sometimes it’s easy to go too far or not go far enough. I find that if I work on an image and get it to a stage I like that it’s good to take a break and come back to it hours later or even a day later. Taking a break gives me perspective and helps me to see areas I like and areas I don’t like. Ultimately, my goal is to deliver final images that my client will love while maintaining my personal style and vision.

I am really proud of the photographs I created for D.G. Yuengling & Son. I love making photos like this and working with clients who are willing to take chances. I love when work is really play. That’s why I became a photographer in the first place.

I’ll leave you with a few behind the scenes photos from our shoot day. Here’s to doing good work and drinking great beer!