Insights and ideas from Vicki Taufer
Creating beautiful pictures
I wasn’t professionally trained as a photographer, but after I got married I started taking pictures of family and friends. I loved shooting, and people seemed to love my photos. Soon, I decided to create a small studio, which gradually grew from a cramped basement in my home into V Gallery, a 7,000 square foot internationally recognized portrait studio that my husband Jed and I run together. Technology has been critical to my success. The right cameras, the right lenses and, of course, tools such as Adobe® Photoshop® CS5, Photoshop Lightroom® 3, and Animoto software help me work smarter, not harder, so I can efficiently capture and deliver valuable memories for my clients.
I’ve always specialized in photographing kids and families. I shoot a lot of senior portraits, and lately have also been doing some pet photography. Just the other day we had three dogs running around the studio and it was so much fun! No matter what the job is, we’ve refined our workflow to be both easy and efficient.
I shoot Canon cameras in raw format. V Gallery has a great staff that does the first edit and creates a catalog for each client in Lightroom 3. Catalogs make it easy to share work across the studio network, which includes multiple workstations. I then review the JPEGs and select my favorites, which are then retouched in Photoshop CS5 before they are shared with clients.
We love the preview feature in Lightroom 3 because it shows us what a preset will do to the image before it is applied, so we can make good decisions that save time. I shoot inside with studio lights or window lights, and outside in natural light. A common struggle for photographers is getting the color correct across these various lighting conditions. Lightroom lets us quickly white balance images and correct for variations in color. The Noise Reduction in Lightroom 3 also helps improve the quality of images shot in different lighting conditions.
Presets in Lightroom and actions in Photoshop help us make changes that would otherwise take a lot of time if done step by step. For example, images can be converted to black-and-white and vignettes can be applied in just a few clicks. And now, with Content-Aware Fill in Photoshop CS5, we can complete a retouching job that previously took an hour in just three minutes. It’s simply amazing.
We also use the Animoto video service as a promotional tool for the studio. Social media is so huge now and our clients love the short videos we produce that they can share on their Facebook pages or blogs, or e-mail to family and friends. At the end of each video is a link to the V Gallery website, which brings us new business and additional orders.
The new Animoto plug-in for Lightroom is great because it eliminates steps in the workflow, speeding up the process without sacrificing quality. Previously, we had to export images from a shoot, resize them, and then import separately to Animoto. With the plug-in, the images can be automatically resized for Animoto and exported directly from Lightroom, saving about 20 minutes per session. With 300 sessions per year, this represents a time savings of as much as 100 hours per year from a plug-in, which easily pays for the Animoto service.
It’s great to have a successful studio, but it’s even better to be a part of our clients’ lives and memories. We have some families that have been coming to the studio since their kids were babies. I’ve traveled the world as a keynote speaker, won awards, and been published in books and trade magazines. But what I still love the most is capturing those perfect expressions on children’s faces that parents will treasure for a lifetime.
Vicki's action pak for colortones and enhancement