Let me be clear.

It’s fantastic to see people expressing themselves. Innovative style, interesting hair, bold make-up.

I love it.

But, and it’s a big but.

It doesn’t necessarily belong in your headshot session.

Why not?

Think about it.

Have you ever looked back at photographs of your parents or grand-parents taken in the 1970s, for example? Their style, whilst interesting, looks a little out-there doesn’t it? Flared trousers, platform soles, huge collars and heavy side-burns look dated by today’s standards.

This is what we would look to avoid in our headshots. Any trends that might appear out of date within a year or two.

If you think ‘timeless’ with your styling, then you won’t go far wrong.

Remember, your headshots are a representation of your brand. You are presumably looking to get hired or advance your career, so let’s try to avoid any ultra trendy styling items. Let’s work together to create the images that launch your career to a higher level.

If you do wish to work on something specifically to illustrate a more creative styling concept, then please take a look at my editorial portrait work and get in touch to discuss your needs.















I’m a portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, and personal branding for actors, athletes and business professionals.

Book a session today.

Find the content useful? Consider buying me a coffee at my ko-fi page.

Photographing Medieval History’s Heroes……….and Villains!

Hello everyone.
In today’s post, I’m showcasing some images from a photo-shoot with a historical theme.
I’ve had a lifelong interest in history. World War 2 has fascinated me since I was a child, but I’m also interested in the Medieval period. So when Tegan and I got together to shoot, we put together a concept based upon several of history’s famous, or rather infamous households.

These images are conceptual by nature and are by no means intended to be historically accurate in any way, shape or form.

Just thought I’d clear that up, straight off the bat!

First up…………..

Beauchamp – Warwick

Guy Beauchamp (c. 1272 – 12 August 1315), pronounced ‘beecham’, was the 10th Earl of Warwick. He was an English magnate, and one of the main opponents of King Edward II and his favourite, Piers Gaveston. Edward and Piers certainly took to one another, though how close their friendship was, is a matter of speculation. After all, Edward went on to have four children with his wife, Isabella. Many at the time thought Edward and Piers were in a sexual relationship.

Gaveston was exiled three times at the hands of the English nobility. He had been a relative upstart in the English aristocracy and made himself unpopular among the established nobility by his arrogance and his undue influence on the king. He gave mocking nicknames to the leading men of the realm, and called Warwick (Beauchamp) the “Black Dog of Arden”.

Sooner or later, something had to give. Gaveston agreed to surrender himself (on the understanding that his safety would be guaranteed), to the Earl of Pembroke at Scarborough Castle.

On 10 June 1312, while Pembroke was away, Beauchamp forcibly carried away Gaveston to Warwick Castle. Here, in the presence of Warwick, Lancaster and other magnates, Gaveston was sentenced to death at an improvised court. On 19 June he was taken to a place called Blacklow Hill—on Lancaster’s lands—and decapitated. 

According to the Annales Londonienses chronicle, four shoemakers brought the corpse back to Warwick (Beauchamp), but he refused to accept it, and ordered them to take it back to where they found it. Gaveston’s body was eventually taken to Oxford by some Dominican friars, and in 1315, King Edward finally had it buried at Kings Langley.

The legacy of Piers Gaveston inspired the ‘Piers Gaveston Society’.

An Oxford University dining club founded in 1977, joined by 12 select undergraduates each year.

Their Latin motto “(Sane) non memini ne audisse unum alterum ita dilixisse” which translates roughly as “Truly, none remember hearing of a man enjoying another so much”

They hold a grand party each summer, once described as a ‘very well organised orgy,’ whose decadence has supposedly ranged from mass drug-taking to live sex shows.

So, a fairly colourful historical contribution coming out of Warwick, and Guy Beauchamp was but one of the line of Earls!

Next up………..

Medici – Florence

The Medici family, also known as the House of Medici, first attained wealth and political power in Florence in the 13th century through its success in commerce and banking.

The Medici family’s support of the arts and humanities made Florence into the cradle of the Renaissance.

The Medici produced two queens.

During their time in power, two of the women in the Medici family became a royal by marriage. Catherine de’Medici became the Queen consort to the French king of the time, King Henry II.  More than fifty years later, Marie de’Medici became the Queen of France after marrying King Henry IV. In 1616, her son, King Louis VIII, banished her from court for two years.

The Medicis produced four popes (Leo X, Clement VII, Pius IV and Leo XI), and their genes have been mixed into many of Europe’s royal families. The last Medici ruler died without a male heir in 1737, ending the family dynasty after almost three centuries.

Poitiers – Aquitaine

Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204) was one of the most powerful and influential figures of the Middle Ages. Inheriting a vast estate at the age of 15 made her the most sought-after bride of her generation. She would eventually become the queen of France, the queen of England and lead a crusade to the Holy Land. She is also credited with establishing and preserving many of the courtly rituals of chivalry.

She is said to be responsible for the introduction of built-in fireplaces, first used when she renovated the palace of her first husband Louis in Paris. Shocked by the cold northern climate after her upbringing in southern France, Eleanor’s innovation spread quickly, transforming the domestic arrangements of the time.

Eleanor spent her last years as a nun at Fontevraud Abbey in France, and died in her eighties on 31 March 1204.

She outlived all but two of her 11 children: King John of England (1166-1216) and Queen Eleanor of Castile (c. 1161-1214).

Dandolo – Venice

Dandolo was a patrician family of the Republic of Venice, which produced four Doges of Venice. The progenitor of the family was a merchant named Domenico.

Their most famous son, Enrico Dandolo (c. 1107 – May 1205) was the 41st Doge of Venice from 1192 until his death. He is remembered for his avowed piety, longevity, and shrewdness, and is known for his role in the Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople.

He was a dynamic leader, reorganising the Venetian currency and beginning the first codification of the republic’s laws.

Dandolo led the Fourth Crusade – an expedition intended to conquer Muslim Egypt – to Constantinople. His armies smashed the heart of the Christian Byzantine Empire.

His force became the first invading army to successfully breach the walls of Constantinople.

What makes all of this even more remarkable, is that Dandolo achieved all of these things when he was in his 90s. And he had been blind for more than two decades!

Venice is close to my heart. My family name ‘Katsaitis’ is the Greek variation of the Venetian name ‘Cazzaiti’.

Our ancestors left Venice in Medieval times, settling first in the modern-day region of Trabzon, before relocating to Kefalonia and Corfu, after the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

Hopefully you enjoyed this little sortie into my historical households project? It certainly was fun to shoot.

This set has also recently featured in the ‘Editor’s Choice’ section of Streetfashion Magzzine if you are interested in taking a look.

As always, thanks for reading.

Stay safe.


I’m a fine art portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, family portraits and personal branding for you, for actors, for athletes and for business professionals alike.

If you like the content maybe consider buying me a coffee at my ko-fi page.

My ultimate step by step Lightroom and Photoshop editing workflow guide, including follow along video.

I’ve been getting tons of questions about my editing techniques lately, so I’ve decided to put together this step by step guide that will hopefully serve as a useful resource and reference tool.

First of all, as I’m sure you all know by now, my style drifts towards the fine art photography genre. The techniques you will see here can, of course, be adapted to many other styles of photography, so pull up a chair, grab a bag of potato chips or even a beer (if it’s that time of the day) and as my old pal Liam (Gallagher) would say…………‘get soaked in it!’

Liam’s not actually an old friend, but I have met him, chatted and shared a few good-natured expletives with him! I have met and looked after many of the world’s A through to Z list celebrities in my previous career in the world of executive aviation, but that’s another story altogether. Today we’re talking about editing…..and I LOVE editing baby………more than Oasis, but only just.

First things first………’s the video to follow along with.

We’re going to edit an image from a photoshoot with a very talented and versatile model and photographer, Arabella.

I’ve chosen the image at random for the purpose of creating this work through.

The corresponding video time codes for each step are also listed in the titles.

Let’s get started.

STEP 1 [00:10]


In Lightroom, my first step is to check the ‘Remove Chromatic Aberration’ and ‘Enable Profile Corrections’ tick boxes as a matter of good practice. Doing so will correct any barrel distortion and vignetting that is a characteristic of the lens you are using. The chromatic aberration tick box is to help with the reduction of purple fringing, it shouldn’t be a factor in this type of image but I always just put a check in it all the same.

STEP 2 [00:19]


I’m just making a few basic adjustments. Upping the exposure, the shadows and then the blacks and that’s it for Lightroom. Time to open the image in Photoshop.

STEP 3 [01:22]


First I’m going to adjust the backdrop and crop to my taste and I’m doing this with the crop tool. Duplicate the background layer by pressing Cmd+J or Ctrl +J. Now make sure that the ‘content-aware’ tick box is checked. This way, when I adjust the crop of the image Photoshop will do it’s best to add a seamless extension of the backdrop to my new cropped canvas. I often use the crop tool to make an image bigger as opposed to cropping it smaller, so keep your mind open to this……it’s a good weapon to have in your arsenal. The crop works well in this instance……it doesn’t always get it right though, so keep a close eye on it.

STEP 4 [02:38]


The liquify tool is one of my favourite tools in Photoshop. We can do many things with it, but in the case of this image, we’re going to fix the back of the dress which bulges a little (notice, I’ve used the ‘freeze mask tool’ to protect certain areas from getting distorted by the ‘forward warp tool’) and also we’re going to plump up the hair. I love to plump my subject’s hair… much so that I made an easy to follow tutorial on it here. That’s as far as we’re going to go with liquify in this instance. I’ll be discussing it in further detail in a future post.

STEP 5 [04:07]


I’m sure you are aware of this technique for retouching skin. It works by means of separating the skin texture/blemishes and colouration/blotches on separate layers so we can work on either independently. I use the ‘healing brush’ to do some blemish removal (very little actually) on the ‘high’ layer and then I make selections on the ‘low’ layer with the ‘lasso’ tool to blur blotchy areas of skin using the ‘gaussian blur filter’

So, if you remember that the high layer is for the blemishes and that the low layer is for the colour, then you’ll be off to a good start.

I like to use the ‘clone stamp tool’ set to ‘lighten’ to sample around the eye area, and with a low flow of 5 percent, I start to lighten any dark patches. Now, because the clone stamp has been set to lighten, it will only affect any areas that are darker than the area which you have sampled for your cloning.

You’ll notice that I’ve also added a blank layer in-between the high and the low layers. This step is to paint over patches of skin with a brush set to a very low flow. Use the brush tool and take a sample of an area of coloured skin which you would like to replicate by pressing the ‘alt’ key whilst pressing the brush down. You should see the sampled skin colour appear in the brush swatches. Next, set the brush opacity to 100 percent and the flow to 2 percent and gently colour the area you wish to affect, building the effect up gradually.

Be sure to do a similar amount of skin work to all areas of the body to give the image a coherent look.

Frequency Separation itself could well be a whole blog post on its own, but suffice it to say that if this concept is new to you, then I would suggest watching a few YouTube tutorials on the subject (there are lots of very good ones out there) and practising it until you get the hang of it.

STEP 6 [11:35]


I love to dodge and burn as I love the extra dimension it gives to a portrait.

Create a new blank layer and go to Edit > Fill > 50 Percent Grey with the blend mode soft light. We are left with a grey layer, so to make our subject visible we need to once again convert the blending mode to soft light. Okay, now we’re in business. We can use the dodge tool to paint on and brighten our highlights, and the burn tool to darken our shadows. Be sure to switch off the background layer and add a little gaussian blur to blend the dodge and burn strokes together more seamlessly.

If you wish to build up the effect, you can also duplicate the dodge and burn layer by pressing Ctrl+J. This doubles the effect, so adjust the strength of the duplicate layer by using the layer opacity slider. One other option is to add a white layer mask and paint the effect away from areas you don’t want it to be visible. We do this using the black brush.

In the next step, I’m going to do a more global dodge effect and boost the exposure on the face, hair and upper body. First, we open a new curves adjustment layer, but we change the blend mode to ‘screen’. See what happens? The image exposure increases dramatically, but we don’t want that at this stage. So we invert the layer by pressing Cmd+I or Ctrl+I. Now, we’re going to grab the white brush and paint on the effect where we want it. SO set the brush opacity to 100 and the flow to 4. Again, build up the effect gradually. I love this little trick. In fact, my whole dodge and burn process, including this, is explained in an easy to follow tutorial here.

STEP 7 [15:09]


I’m literally repeating the last step here, but instead of inverting the curves layer (set to screen), I’m applying it to the whole image, but reducing the opacity to my own taste.

STEP 8 [15:34]


In this step, we’re going to make a selection of Arabella for the purpose of preserving some of her skin tones during the colour grading process. First of all, we need to add a new ‘stamp visible layer’ at the top of the layer stack. We do this with the keyboard shortcut ‘Ctrl-Alt-Shift+E’. Next, I’m making a selection of Arabella (with the ‘quick selection tool’ selected) using the ‘select subject’ button.

I’m going to further refine my selection by manually adding in or subtracting areas that the tool has missed. Hold down the ‘alt’ key to subtract from the selection whilst using this tool. Next, we’re going to take it a step further by going into the ‘select and mask’ mode, by pressing the corresponding button at the top of the screen.

In select and mask, I’m going to paint around the hair with the ‘refine edge brush tool’ to try to pick up some of the stray hairs. It usually does a reasonable job but I’m going to go one step further and launch into ‘quick mask mode’.

You will notice that both the subject and the layer are now highlighted in red.

With a black brush selected (to add to the selection……white to take away) we can paint over parts of Arabella which are missing from the selection. This is a really nice way to refine our final selection.

When that step is complete and you are happy, go to Select > Save Selection and give your selection a name before saving it. I’ve used ‘1’.

We can go ahead and de-select our selection now that we have it saved. Press Cmd+D or Ctrl+D. We will come back to our selection again shortly.

STEP 9 [20:23]


I use a mixture of colour lookup tables (LUTs) and Nik Color Efex filters to do the bulk of my colour grading. I like to do it in Photoshop as it gives me so much control over it, by utilising the layers. There are many different ways of colouring your images…….this is the way I do it.

First of all, I’m colourblind, so I tend to use tried and tested methods and just tweak them a little here and there.

The LUT recipes I use most frequently are from the Photographer’s Creativity Pack 3 by one of my favourite photographers and educators, Glyn Dewis. There are some fantastic LUTs in this pack and I use them in conjunction with other LUTs and filters to craft my own signature style.

Once I’ve gathered together a combination of colour lookup layers and adjusted the opacity of each layer to find the sweet spot, I then group them together by pressing Cmd+G or Ctrl +G.

I further adjust the opacity of the entire group to my taste and then add a white layer mask to the group. This is to adjust the strength of the effect on our subject. So, we load our selection. Go to Select > Load Selection and select ‘1’. The next step is to invert the selection by pressing Cmd+I or Ctrl+I………..and as if by magic, the colour is now only affecting the background and not our subject.

I usually bring back some of the colour grading onto my subject just as a matter of personal preference. To do this, we click on the layer mask, then we go to the ‘layer density slider’.

I’ve dropped it to 65 percent opacity in this case, but it’s different with every image and is purely a decision to be made based on personal taste.

STEP 10 [25:33]


I regularly use the ‘Glamor Glow’ filter in Nik Color Efex Pro. It’s a nice little feature which desaturates the image, whilst also adding a matte effect and a skin glow. I’ve warmed up the glow a little and as always, with Photoshop, used the layers to adjust the opacity of the filter. You will also notice that I’ve also used the layer mask to paint the effect away from the model’s hair………again, just a matter of personal choice.

STEP 11 [27:43]


The next Nik Color Efex Pro filter does exactly what it says on the tin. I use the ‘dynamic contrast’ slider inside the ‘Pro Contrast’ module to give the image a nice punch. It also gives the skin a real lift.

STEP 12 [29:00]


Purely optional and not really needed in this case.

Open a new blank layer and use the ‘lasso tool’ to make a rough selection of the teeth. Next open a ‘hue/saturation’ adjustment layer and notice that the selection now appears on the layer mask of the ‘hue/saturation’ layer. I’ve also added a clipping mask to clip this adjustment directly to the targeted area (our lasso tool selection).

Next, select ‘yellows’ from the ‘master’ drop-down menu and lower the saturation. Increase the lightness slider to taste and yep, that’s done. Nice and easy way to gently whiten the teeth in Photoshop.

STEP 13 [29:51]


I’ve done a full video tutorial on this simple yet massively effective technique here.

We’re basically running a noise reduction on the image but bringing back some of the details using the ‘high pass filter’. It’s a technique I regularly use to give my images a painterly look. It also gives a pleasing skin smoothing effect, so please do take the time to watch the tutorial above, as this truly is a great technique to have in your workflow.

STEP 14 [31:28]


This is one seriously fantastic plugin from Topaz Labs.

It adds contrast and dimension to an image like no other plugin I’ve seen.

Here’s the interface.

I go into the ‘precision contrast’ module and set the ‘micro-contrast’ to 0.28 and the ‘low contrast’ to 0.14. I use it so often in this combination that I have it saved as a preset.

I use sometimes use it globally, but in this instance I’ve applied the effect and then inverted it, brushing it on the layer mask, on to the places where I need it in the picture.

STEP 15 [33:22]


One more round of Pro Contrast in Nik. Apply globally and then reduce the opacity to taste.

We’re getting there now…………….

STEP 16 [34:50]


Last sortie into the Nik Software filters and one to be used with caution…….Tonal Contrast.

I’m using this on a very low opacity and just to add a little detail to the background.

I’ve selected the filter set to ‘fine’ and reduced the saturation to zero.

When applied in photoshop I have dropped the opacity right down. Then I’ve used the brush on the layer mask to erase the effect from the subject, leaving it only slightly visible on the backdrop.

STEP 17 [37:01]


At this point I’m adding a little vignette, using the Camera Raw filter.

Open Camera Raw and drag a ‘radial filter’ around the subject in a kind of elliptical shape. The next step is to simply drag the exposure slider down to create a nice feathered vignette effect. This helps to focus the viewer’s attention even more on the subject.

STEP 18 [37:44]


My preferred sharpening method. I brush the sharpening on, gradually building the effect in the areas that I want.

This method of sharpening is described perfectly here.

STEP 19 [38:52]


I almost forgot this step!

I’ve done a full tutorial on giving the eyes that extra bit of punch…….it’s easy to follow and a great technique to utilise. You can find the tutorial here.

That’s it for Photoshop.

My full editing workflow.

I save the image back to Lightroom and in this case, cropped it slightly and that’s ‘all she wrote’ as they say.

I hope you like the image, and if you found this combined tutorial useful, then I’d also love to hear about it in the comments below.

‘Seduction of Orpheus’ featuring Arabella.

Stay safe.


I’m a fine art portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, family portraits and personal branding for you, for actors, for athletes and for business professionals alike.

If you like the content maybe consider buying me a coffee at my ko-fi page.

My quick start photoshoot guide/checklist.

Lets get straight to the meat and potatoes with some quick photoshoot tips

1) Have your lighting and gear set up, switched on, tested and ready to go before your subject/model arrives.

It may seem obvious but it will save you time and it will give your model/subject some initial confidence in that you know what you are doing!

2) Turn the heating up to a comfortable working level.

Be considerate. No one wants to be cold. This is supposed to be enjoyable for all parties.

3) Get the kettle on!

Have little breaks…….offer drinks, soft drinks, Jaffa Cakes! Whatever your model/subject likes! You will have found out this in advance because…………

4) Pre-shoot communication is the key to a successful photoshoot.

See what I did there? Let point number 4 really sink in.

5) Set up a Pinterest mood board and USE it during the shoot.

I like to break it down into three sections styling/lighting/poses and I always refer to it during the photoshoot.

6) SHOOT TETHERED!!!!!!!!!

If there is just one piece of advice I can impart to you today that will make a MASSIVE and I mean massive difference to your photography, it’s to buy a tethering cable, plug your camera into the computer, open Lightroom or Capture One and literally see what you’ve been missing. Talk about my photographic epiphany! I shoot a sequence of 5-6 shots and then check the monitor for lighting blips, stray hairs, wardrobe or makeup malfunctions etc etc. Adjusting as you go. Working this way will, I guarantee, save you time and post processing effort later. It’s also a great way to show your model/subject what is working too, in terms of lighting and pose, in real time. Far better than a small display on the back of the camera. Trust me, I’ve done it both ways.


If you do notice that stray hair or untucked shirt as a result of embracing my top tethering tip, then please don’t presume to touch your model/subject to sort it out. TELL THEM ABOUT IT and they will either do it themselves or give you permission to do so. It’s simple etiquette, but you should follow this rule at all times.


In my experience, lots of models are very good at looking at an image and spotting something that might be potentially wrong with it. Something that can be easily improved with a little tweak. So pay attention and remember they will have worked with a multitude of other much more experienced photographers than you or I. They may well be a pretty accomplished photographer themselves, so embrace their input, and thank me for it later! Also, there’s no need to be secretive. I’ve heard models talking about photographers who would never show them an unedited image! There’s really no need to be precious. If you work together collaboratively you WILL get better results. FACT. Show your model/subject what you are doing (see point 6 ) and allow them to offer their input and give them the chance to improve on their posing/styling. It works.

9) Get down on your knees.

Literally get down on your knees. Your shooting angle will dramatically flatter or un-flatter your subject so think about your shooting angle. It’s important. Shooting a full length shot of a female subject? Get low. Shooting from a low angle will accentuate the length of her legs. Shooting from a standing position will do the opposite and make her legs look short. Similarly, taking a lower camera angle when shooting a male subject can give a nice imposing look. If you’re shooting a head and shoulders portrait, then take a different approach. You’re going to want to be just a little higher than your subject’s nose…….have them project their jawline out and push the forehead slightly down. It’s flattering. Take a look at Peter Hurley’s YouTube channel or the work of Sue Bryce for all of the posing advice you will ever need. It’s something you should never neglect to consider.

10) Be vocal.

Coach your subject or encourage your subject. Tell them ‘that’s fantastic’ ‘let’s go along these lines’ ‘let’s develop this’ etc etc you will build a better rapport and that of course equals a more productive session and………….


Just don’t be that guy. BE PROFESSIONAL. Want people to work with you again? Build a great working reputation and you will have more people wanting to work with you than you could ever fit into your schedule. It’s a nice place to be at………..BE NICE.

12) Say thanks

Yep………..easy innit? Say thanks. Drop your model/subject a message after. Congratulate them and thank them for their hard work. Leave them a reference if applicable. It will be appreciated.

Hopefully this little guide is useful to you?

Stay safe people.


I’m a fine art portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, family portraits and personal branding for you, for actors, for athletes and for business professionals alike.

If you like the content maybe consider buying me a coffee at my ko-fi page.

QUICK AND EASY Photoshop dodge and burn tutorial.

Hello everyone.

Just a quickie today to let you know about my latest easy to follow YouTube video tutorial.

Harness the power of dodging and burning to add extra dimension to your portrait editing workflow.

There’s an extra bonus tip at the end of the video for a real punchy global dodge effect with massive impact.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Stay safe.


I’m a fine art portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, family portraits and personal branding for you, for actors, for athletes and for business professionals alike.

Buy me a coffee at my ko-fi page.

Easy to follow tutorial for a painterly style skin effect in Photoshop.

Hello everyone.

Quick and easy to follow video tutorial to share today on my YouTube channel highlighting a process I use on the majority of my images.

This two-minute retouching step gives that waxy, painterly look to skin which really fits well with my style and works perfectly with fine art portrait images in general.

There’s an added bonus here too, as it also has a skin smoothing effect.

Use it at the end of the skin retouching/frequency separation stage of your workflow to get the best results.

Have fun with the technique and be sure to let me know how you get on with it.

Stay safe.


I’m a fine art portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, family portraits and personal branding for you, for actors, for athletes and for business professionals alike.

Buy me a coffee at my ko-fi page.

Easy to follow tutorial to make eyes POP in Photoshop (Including YouTube video)

Little editing tip to share with you today, and this is a fabulous and easy tutorial to really make your subject’s eyes POP in Photoshop.

Giving those eyes that extra punch can really elevate your portrait post production work and make it stand out.

I use this technique on the majority of my images, and I’m sure when you see how easy and effective it is, you will start to incorporate it into your workflow too.

This is one of the final steps in my own image retouching process. I do this just before I do my final sharpening in Photoshop.

Let’s start with this portrait of Tegan. We’re going to use this as our example image.

Let’s go ahead and zoom in on the eyes.

One more valuable tip here before we go any further.

When you are photographing a subject in a studio with lights/flash there is a pretty good chance that you might have controlled conditions where most of the ambient light has been dimmed. This is of course good practice, but the darker the room is, then the bigger the pupils of your subject’s eyes will become…………and we don’t want that in a portrait. We want to see more of the iris. You will have heard the much used photography mantra ‘The eyes are the window to the soul’……….Well then, lets give them the chance to shine in our photographs and if possible face your subject towards the studio window. I know, it might create a challenge with your lighting setup but it will allow the iris to be much more prominent in the image.

Okay, so on with the retouch.

We’re going to make a duplicate of the background layer Cmd+J or Ctrl+J and then we’re going to enter Quick Mask Mode. There’s an arrow pointing to the Quick Mask Mode icon on he left side of the screenshot.

You will also now see that our duplicate layer is highlighted in red, on the right hand side of the screen. This means we’re in Quick Mask mode and we’re good to go.

Next we’re going to select a black brush with Opacity and Flow both set to 100 percent and we’re going to paint over all the visible areas of the iris. It will look something like this………

If you wish, you can apply a little Gaussian Blur at this stage just to blend the selection, but use a low value, say 0.5-1.0.

When you’ve finished painting, exit Quick mask by clicking the Quick Mask icon again to reveal your selection.

Now we’re going to open a Selective Color layer and set the Colours tab to ‘neutrals’………you can adjust the blacks slider in the ‘neutrals’ tab if you wish to have a play around with the contrast. I don’t always do this, but the choice is there for you.

Notice how our selective colour layer has a black mask with just the eyes (our selection) visible in white.

Things are going to look a little crazy now as we’re going to change the blend mode of our Selective Color layer to Linear Dodge Add.

It looks pretty bad at this stage………unless you’re doing some far out fantasy, superhero edits! So we’re going to lower the opacity of the Selective Color layer. I usually drop it to about 40 percent opacity as a good starting point, but be aware that the value for each individual image will be different.

I have reduced the opacity to 40 in the image above and opened a new blank layer above the Selective Color layer. This is going to be our sharpening layer and to do the sharpening we’re going to use *drumroll*

…………The Sharpen tool

You may or may not be familiar with this tool? I only actually use it as part of this workflow.

So to sharpen, we’re going to use the Sharpen Tool to paint on our blank layer and build up the sharpening effect on the iris. I’ve got it set to 45. Be gentle here and build it up gradually. Pressing on and painting somewhere between 2 and 4 strokes of the entire iris seems to work best in my opinion.

Once that step is complete, I like to group (Cmd+G) the Sharpen and Selective Color layers together. I do this so I can zoom in and out and also toggle the effect on and off, so I can see whether I’ve taken it too far. Lower the opacity of the group to the sweet spot which you are happy with. I’ve settled on 30 percent opacity.

That’s it……….easy.

Have a play with this technique and I guarantee you’ll find it second nature after trying it a few times. It works equally well with both colour and black and white images. Have fun and be sure to let me know how you get on with it in the comments below.

Stay safe guys.


I’m a fine art portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, family portraits and personal branding for you, for actors, for athletes and for business professionals alike.

Buy me a coffee at my ko-fi page.

New Photographers……..allow me to save you some money.

It’s the least I can do.

I’ve been around the photography industry for a decade now so I’m going to pay a tiny little bit forward.

But wait………….

Your camera shop isn’t going to like this…………not one bit.

‘Sorry ’bout that’

Here it is folks………….


Your lens hood will protect the surface of your lens just fine. Why pay big bucks for an optically beautiful lens just to place an inferior piece of glass over it?

Doesn’t really make sense does it?

I guess it’s kinda like buying a store protection plan for a dishwasher that actually works out more expensive than the price of the dishwasher over the period of the plan…………the cost to you in this respect though is the downgrading of your image quality.

It’s a bit of an upselling scam really. The classic line being something like……. “I dropped my lens and the filter broke Instead of the lens, therefore the cheap filter did it’s job!”

In reality the filter breaking could just as easily scratch the precious front element of your lens beneath.

Most likely, the internal parts of the lens are going to get damaged if you drop the lens. A sturdy lens hood will offer you a lot more protection.

You might need to use a UV filter say if you were out on location photographing something where your lens might get splashed or muddy for example……making it easier to clean afterwards. Alternatively though you might buy a cheap 50mm ‘nifty fifty’ lens instead, that probably costs the same (or even less) than a filter? I know which option I’d choose if it were me…………

So hopefully this humble piece of advice will stick with you the next time you visit the camera store and save you some of your hard earned cash.

The Milky Bars are on me………..(as they used to say in the ’80s)

Stay positive and keep testing negative.


I’m a fine art portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, family portraits and personal branding for you, for actors, for athletes and for business professionals alike.

Buy me a coffee at my ko-fi page.


My top 7 go to places for photography and editing inspiration………….

I thought I’d make a nice little tidy list of my favourite inspirational photographers and resources and hopefully pay a little forward. I feel like I owe these people an awful lot, for the content they put out there and for the inspiration they have helped to nurture within me.

Let’s start at the beginning………………

I wanted to learn how to light my images with flash. It’s my personal taste. Natural light images for the most part look very flat and one dimensional to me. For the MOST part………let me emphasise that. There are some absolute masters of natural light photography out there. Incredible photographers. I shoot with natural light too………but……….I prefer to light with flash. I live in the UK where the weather is generally poor and very unpredictable. Lighting with flash gives me the ability to make and more importantly, control my lighting exactly as I want it to be, and with consistent results.

First port of call.

The Strobist Blog.

Lighting 101 by David Hobby is an outstanding free resource to learn lighting from the very basics. If you want to learn how to use off camera flash then I highly recommend making this your starting point.

Second on the list.

OneLight by the incredible photographer and educator Zack Arias.

This video tutorial is THE stand alone industry leading guide (in my humble opinion) to learning how to light and to understand flash. PERIOD.

Here’s the trailer…………..

The video is available to purchase from Zack’s store………

It costs $99, and I can tell you that if you are starting out with lighting and want to learn, then that $99 will be worth every single cent.

Zack Arias.

Next up………..

Glyn Dewis.

Again an absolutely legendary educator, photographer, author and all around nice guy. I’ve been a customer of his for many years. I’ve purchased his fantastic books and I use his custom colour LUTs from his Creativity Pack to colour grade many of my images.

Glyn also runs a YouTube channel which has been one of the single most useful places of learning for me. It’s crammed full of exceptional, clear and concise tutorial videos on Photoshop and photography.

Check it out here……………..

Glyn’s 3945 project is a beautiful homage to some of the last remaining World War II veterans………..

Brilliant stuff!

Bit of Photoshop goodness next, and if you don’t already know of it, then the Piximperfect channel on YouTube is an amazing resource for all things Photoshop and Lightroom.

You’re going to find just about anything here relating to image retouching, colour grading and creating composites. Unmesh is a fantastic educator and a great personality. Immerse yourself in his channel and learn some new skills. I always think it’s a good idea on days when you’re not photographing to get stuck into some new editing tutorials. Every day’s a school day around here!

The next entry here is for two very inspiring photographers that I’m sure you will have all heard of.

Joel Grimes and Joe McNally. I gravitate towards these guys as great educators as well as great photographers (I’m seeing a little pattern here).

Now, as far as Joel Grimes goes, I could literally hang on every word that comes out of his mouth. His experience and knowledge are GOLD.

Check out The Framed Show here………….

……….and this great ‘one light’ video

Every single time I watch those videos I learn something new.

Joe McNally is again an amazing personality and educator. One of the nice guys of the photography industry. He actually took a photograph of me in a demonstration at The Photography Show in the UK last year! If you ever have the chance to catch one of his demos I’d highly recommend it.

So last but not least, and this is a fantastic resource. Again featuring Glyn Dewis and co-host Dave Clayton, it’s the He Shoots He Draws Podcast.

What I LOVE about this podcast (aside from the great camaraderie) is it’s consistency and it’s attention to photography and design business matters, in addition to the photography chat. It’s unique in it’s outlook in this respect, and I find myself pouring over old episodes whilst I’m out walking and extracting absolute gems of information from them. I’m also having a few giggles as there is some very funny content in there too.

Great podcast, and well worth the free subscription! It’s a no brainer.

Well that’s it for today’s lengthy instalment! Please do let me know if you find value in these resources as I myself have done.

As always, thanks for reading and stay safe.


I’m a fine art portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, family portraits and personal branding for you, for actors, for athletes and for business professionals alike.

Buy me a coffee at my ko-fi page.

The single most important piece of photography advice I wish I’d known earlier.


Let that sink in.

It’s a bitch of a thing to come to terms with, but that moment when you do, is the moment that you will grow and become a better photographer.

If you wish to develop as a creative then you will have to accept this difficult premise.

If you think your work is great and you don’t need to improve then you’ve lost the battle. You haven’t lost the war though, I might add……you’re just gonna have to wake up and smell the coffee.

This mindset is known as the Dunning-Kruger effect, a real scientific phenomenon.

The Dunning-Kruger effect is a type of cognitive bias in which people believe that they are more capable than they really are. Essentially, low ability people do not possess the skills needed to recognize their own incompetence

Stupid people don’t know they‘re stupid


Poor self awareness and low cognitive ability leads them to overestimate their own capabilities.

As Charles Darwin wrote in his book The Descent of Man, “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”

I’ve been guilty of this…….thinking my work is the dog’s danglers!

I put a photograph out there that I’m delighted with, for all to see……thinking it’s the best thing since sliced bread. Fortunately for me though, I’ve had my epiphany, as it were and when I look back at my work I have a rather deflating tendency to think it’s crap and that I can improve it. This is what I try to do with every single day…….improve, and learn something new. Every new photoshoot, every new edit, every new blog post!

I’m trying.

People say that I’m very trying!

I’m putting that attribute down to the curse of the creative mind and I’m standing by that!

People will blow smoke up your arse all day long if they want to use your services for free/for exposure… and friends encourage you (they’re your biggest fan club) but the false sense of security that this can bestow upon you can ultimately become detrimental to your development within the photography industry.

‘Don’t get high on your own supply’ (as the cool kids say.)

If you don’t believe me, ask for a portfolio review from an artist you respect and prepare to face the music. Don’t be disheartened by the critique. Instead take from it, learn from it and act on it.

Don’t get stuck in that rut of being able to do something and then being satisfied with just repeating it time and time again, never to move forward. Develop your skill set. Add new lighting or editing techniques to your repertoire. Perfect the ones that you already know, Your clients deserve it………….and so do you.

So hopefully you found this philosophical post motivational and that it inspires you to move forward.

Now excuse me whilst I go cry into my cornflakes and endeavour to become better at my craft.

Stay safe.


Buy me a coffee at my ko-fi page.