Northwest Arkansas Wedding and Portrait Photographer
Wes Ryan, Storyfisher & Taleteller
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Northwest Arkansas Wedding and Portrait Blog

Wes Ryan is a Northwest Arkansas based portrait and wedding photographer specializing in professionals, families, children and pets! Wes Ryan serves as a photographer in Fayetteville, Rogers and surrounding areas in Arkansas. Check out my photography blog, where I talk a little more in depth about my clients, the photography work I love, and an occasional portrait photography adventure.

Maternity: Catherine at the Beach

Today I'm sharing a collection I shot for Catherine last year in Jupiter, FL. I lived in South Florida before moving to Denver, and man I miss it sometimes. Especially on cold days. Especially when the wind hurls tornadic debris at my car and chips the paint AGAIN. Still though, I find myself telling everyone I know "you have to come visit!" I think it's the beer. And the everything-else.

One of my best friends (a marketing maestro) actually introduced me to Catherine last year and single-handedly set this shoot up. She made the calls, picked the location and set the date. I just showed up and did what I love to do most. She even assisted me, bless her heart.

This was actually my first maternity shoot, but being a professional uncle, I'm no stranger to a mom-in-waiting. Even better, this was Catherine's first photo shoot, she says, since high school. Holy shit, perfect! But you know what? I just thought about everything I'd want to see if I were a Dad-to-be and I let that guide me. I thought about warmth and comfort and love and safety. Catherine grew up new the beach, so that part was a given. And it was a cloudy day, so the light was soft and even. The wind blew her hair all over the place, but we worked around it. For not having had a portrait session in years, Catherine was an absolute professional. And I feel like people come into their own around me, so maybe I should take some credit for that. What can I say? People like me. You like me. I like you too. *bats eyes*

Ok, enough of that. In the last year I've done my best to learn more about how I can be a better portrait artist. One thing that I've heard so often by so many women is that they don't want their hands to be in the photo. This is followed by holding their nails up, frowning, and saying, "I forgot to get my nails done. They look horrible." As a guy, my eyes would narrow and I wouldn't see the problem. What a fool I was!

(long hearty laugh)

Take for example this photo:

Unedited, right out of the camera. It's a cute shot, right? But some of you may have noticed right off the bat that Catherine's nails were indeed not "done". Slight chill and wind can also create more exaggerated lines at the knuckles, or "dimpling". It's a human reaction that happens to anyone. But a photo will catch it because the camera is in fact, a scientific instrument, much like a telescope. 

But you can't do a whole portrait session with your hands behind your back. Unless you're a magician. If you are a magician, particularly in the Denver area, visit my contact page because I want to photograph a magician soon. Anyway, the nails. Whatever shall we do!? Fear not, my beauties! It's called photoshop. And a not-so-secret fact about me? I frickin rock at photoshop.

You see there? Let's run down the differences because they still look pretty similar at a glance. First, I surgically copied the good nail from her middle finger. Then, I layered it over the ring and index fingers. But having 3 identical nails might look a little strange if someone were to really look closely. So I "pinched" the layers slightly to fit the size of the fingers. Now they don't look identical, but they are nice and consistent. I also removed some of the purple and soften the knuckles. This isn't just to make the hands look better. It also helps Catherine's beautiful ring stand out more. I bumped the exposure just a hair for a softer skin tone and cranked the green channel a bit so those sea grapes had a little more volume in the image.

The whole fix-up took about 3 minutes. Not because it's easy, but because I've been using photoshop since 2005 and I don't have to deal with trial and error. Learning photoshop is pretty much trial and error for about 2 years, and then your production time is reduced.

So wait, you might be wondering. Does this mean you charge less because you do your own post production so quickly? LOL. Hell no. I charge very competitive rates, but I have never reduced them for learning to do something faster. The client wins, however, because guess what less post-production time means? That's right! A faster turnaround!