Great People = Great Shoots: Brian Williams

Welcome to the second post in my new blog series: Great People = Great Shoots!

I do a lot of my post production and retouching in house. Every so often, I get retouch a request that’s beyond my comfort zone. That’s when I call in the experts. One of my favorite retouchers in Brian Williams of Crossboard Creative. He’s been my go to guy now since 2010. He can retouch anything I throw at him, but he’s particularly good at architectural retouching (which is not a common skill-set). Check out this retouch job he did for me

Let’s get to know Brian some more:

Photo by Brian Williams

Describe what you do and how long you’ve been doing it:
I provide custom image retouching for pro photographers; I’ve been focusing on this specific work for a decade now. The majority of my work involves architectural images, but I occasionally handle many other types of shots.

How did you get your start?
After graduating with a B.A. degree in Art/Design, I spent about 20 years in different roles in the printing and advertising fields. Photoshop had been a part of my work routine in pretty much every graphics-oriented job I’ve had.

In 2005 I decided to go freelance, offering general graphic design services—and of course Photoshop was integral to much of this work as well.

It was around 2007 that I recall visiting an art gallery which was showing a certain photographer’s large format prints. The work was very nice overall, but I remember walking up to one of these large prints for close inspection and noticed evidence of different exposures being composited together. To this day I still remember standing there in that gallery and telling myself, “Wow, I could have helped this photographer make these big, beautiful images even nicer…”

That was a key moment in helping me realize that it was time to narrow my graphics work into what I enjoyed doing the most—that being image manipulation. Ten years later, and this is still all I do; in my experience, focusing on and developing just one specific, favorite work is a very gratifying way to run a small business.

Who was your first client?
Tom Gatlin, a super architectural photographer in Nashville, TN

What’s a typical day like for you?
My work day is very open-ended. I work in a home office space and settle in to work as often as necessary. My wife is a first grade teacher, and during the school year I’m busy hustling our two boys off to school at about the time their mom is out the door herself. Aside from that routine I’m dedicated to scheduling retouching projects whenever they come along. I try to keep my routine flexible—both for family and for the many photographers I assist.

What tools do you use to do your job?
It’s basically Adobe Photoshop running on a Mac workstation. I keep the setup simple and streamlined—and so far it’s working out well.

What was the craziest thing that happened to you on a job?
Strange…nothing jumps out at me. Maybe an indicator of how straightforward I prefer to keep my workflow…?

Favorite snack food?
A couple of bowls of cereal—something slightly sweet—in front of an old TV show.

How can people find out more about you?
crossboardcreative.com

Retouching the Oregon Home Cover Shot

I take a lot of pride in my Photoshop retouching skills. Mainly because I try really hard to make my shots not look like they’ve been retouched.

For architectural interior shots like this cover image for Oregon Home, I often do something I call, “Dropping in the Windows.” During the shoot, I’ll take several brackets that are under my main exposure. Later on in Photoshop, I will pick a darker exposure that I like the look out the windows and overlay it on the main exposure. I then hand cut out the windows using a mask and blend it together a little with the paintbrush. It’s subtle, time consuming, but the look can’t be beat.

The alternative to this is to do and HDR photograph or overlight the room with artificial light. I, personally, never like either of those ways look, so that’s why I do it the hard way.

Here’s time-lapse of the whole process: