So I decided early on in the process of trying to get a portfolio started that learning to photograph my own designs decently would be nearly as important as developing my design skills. I think that the ability to photograph your own work can help florists at all stages in their careers – obviously it’s really key for me right now since I’m still building a portfolio based on a lot of “spec” arrangements. But even for someone doing weddings every weekend, it’s a big boon to not have to rely on the pro photos that may not come for months (if at all) from the wedding photographer, and it’s nice to be able to take the kind of detail shots that *you* want to represent your work.
The first step in this process for me was getting a good camera, and the second was procuring a 50m f/1.8 fixed lens that let me take great detail shots with a focus on the foreground (the flowers) rather than the background (which distracts from the flowers). As you can see in this post, just those two things improved my photos dramatically and resulted in photos that I didn’t mind putting in a portfolio gallery on my site.
I have now discovered something that is a ton of fun for me, and that in my opinion makes flower photos look that much more professional – Rad Lab is a Photoshop extension that makes punching up photographs (of flowers or anything else) extremely easy and intuitive. You can use it with either Photoshop or Photoshop elements. I already had access to Photoshop (believe you me I would not have paid hundreds for it just to play with my flower photos ; ) but Photoshop Elements can be had for around $60 – 70, and Rad Lab costs $150. A total of just over $200 is an investment, but imo if you can use self-made photos in your portfolio that you wouldn’t have otherwise gotten, it could be very worthwhile.
RadLab launches a popout window in Photoshop that is loaded with 78 “stylets” – or recipes for photos. You can layer stylets over each other, adjust up or down the effect of any given one at any time, and live preview your changes before you apply them. (I had tinkered with Photoshop actions before, but each one is separate and you have to apply an action to see its effects- if you’re editing a bunch of photos, it can get pretty laborious.) RadLab also lets you save your favorite recipes, or combinations of stylets. I’ve found a favorite recipe that works beautifully for my flower pics (for anyone already using RadLab, it’s Oh Snap! with a slight Edge Burn, a dash of Boutwell’s Magic Glasses, and occasionally a little Highlight Separator or a POS lense, depending on the photo.)
Here are some photos with before and after comparisons…
OK this one was done before I reigned in my RadLab craziness a bit – I was a little edit happy, so the effects are kind of intense and obvious. Still fun for the right pic ; )
Here’s that same photo, with just a *very* subtle “pop”:
I think that RadLab really helped this photo, which actually wasn’t well focused originally, come to life:
The difference here is subtle too, but the highlight separator effect in this one helps the flowers to really stand out:
This is a shot from RadLab’s website that shows the same photo with different sets of effects applied. The fact that all of these are one click edits, and that you can preview and adjust before applying them is awesome!
I want to do something like this with a single same flower photo, and many of the stylets applied at full strength to really show them off. Stay tuned for upcoming posts, I’m sure I’ll have more to say about RadLab (and lord knows that my husband is sick of hearing about both RadLab and Pinterest ; )