Online photography groups are one place that can be a goldmine for inspiration. When you have time on your hands or simply want to try some new Photoshop techniques, you could start in worse places. (Photography blogs are also really great, but if you’re reading this then you probably already know that!).
Commercial photographer Mark Manne stumbled across an interesting Photoshop video recently which inspired him to create some very interesting dynamic portraits which create a real sense of fun and movement. He shared with DIYP how he made them (and also the original tutorial video by Safii Clon).
“I recently made the jump from part-time side-hustle to full-time photographer,” says Mark. “In this business, you have to constantly be learning so I follow a number of blogs and groups.”
Mark admits that he’s usually just a passive follower in the group and likes to see what things people are posting, but a few weeks ago someone posted a photo with this interesting effect on it asking how it was done. It immediately caught Mark’s eye, and between them, the group managed to track down a tutorial video.
The technique is fairly straightforward, but a little time-consuming. It essentially involves selecting layers of colour from the image, stretching them into stacked bands of colour, and then creating a circular pattern with them. The main subject is cut out and placed on a layer on top. Simple, yet effective.
“I was drawn to this effect for two reasons,” says Mark. “One, it just looks kind of cool and I wanted to see if I could do it, but also because I work with a lot of restaurants in food photography,” Mark says that shooting food often requires him to shoot a lot of top-down or flat lay style images of plates from a bird’s eye view.
“Food on a round plate has to be arranged correctly for visual weight,” Mark explains. “This being a round circle effect meant that it had the same sort of visual weight considerations, so I thought it would be a great exercise for me to try.”
So what type of image works best with this type of manipulation?
Mark says that like with anything, the first time is always kind of rough. “A lot of start and stop trying to figure out what did they just say and do,” he says, “so I had to take it slow and steady.”
Finding good base photos to work off of is super important. For these, Mark actually reached out to local portrait photographer Dom Spolitino who had recently photographed some portraits of Mark’s friend’s children and asked permission if he could try it using his images. “While I have done a lot of portrait photography, the base image for these needed some sort of movement that lends itself to motion,” Mark says. “A person standing completely still with their hands folded doesn’t work well.”
Mark says it’s a really fun little image manipulation trick that he’s found both enjoyable and almost therapeutic. “Choosing the right colours from the subject, assigning the proper weight, forming the motion… it’s almost a meditation on colour, weight and graphic skills. All essential tools and skills needed for photography.”
I think that this makes some really interesting images that absolutely go beyond the usual scope, particularly when it comes to the portraits. Here’s the video tutorial in case you want to try it for yourself:
Portrait images courtesy of Dominick Spolitino.