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All photos © Kate Edwards
Kate Edwards is a Brooklyn-based fashion photographer who creates dreamy, ethereal imagery through calculated use of gesture and color. Her models are often lost in thought, or turned away from the camera, and she’s drawn to iridescent color palettes that are carefully refined, or pale neutrals that evoke a sense of quiet and contemplation. Post-production technique is crucial to perfecting the look of Edwards’s imagery, and we spoke with her about her creative process from start to finish, and how she has simplified her workflow in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop CC for a more efficient output.
PDN: How do you conceptualize your fashion shoots?
Kate Edwards: My creative process usually involves a lot of brainstorming. I tend to have a wandering mind, so I find that I get most of my ideas from a variety of things that influence me on a daily basis; walking my dog, listening to music, or flipping through a million fashion magazines. I tend to take a lot of photos while I’m out and about that help me create ideas through lighting, colors or patterns. This ends up influencing how I conceptualize my fashion shoots as well. There are so many things you can do, so many possibilities, that for me, being inspired by a lot of different things makes it way more interesting.
PDN: What are some of your favorite shoots that you worked on in 2014?
KE: I did a bunch of shoots that were definitely a ton of fun, but I have to say that my most memorable photo experience this year was actually being accepted and participating in PhootCamp. It has been around for about six years, and allows 30-40 up-and-coming photographers spend a week together taking photographs of everything and anything that inspires them. Each year the location is different, and for 2014 it took place in Joshua Tree, California. All we had to worry about was bringing our favorite cameras and making work. What an unbelievable experience for a young photographer.
PDN: You have a knack for creating rich color palettes and tones in your imagery. What influences your color choices?
KE: Like I mentioned before, everything influences my color choices—even down to some random song I am listening to, or an amazing wall I walk that is painted the coolest color. Right now I love peachy hues, lots of neutral styling and soft light. I try to always keep it simple though. I tend to become too overwhelmed when there are too many elements going on in one shoot or even in one photograph. I am a “less is more” kind of photographer.
PDN: What are your goals in post-production? If you are enhancing or altering the existing coloring, what’s your approach?
KE: I try to remain consistent and not overdo my retouching when it comes to my photographs, which can honestly be hard to do when you start diving into editing something you’re really excited about. I used to spend hours doing things in post that I really didn’t need to be spending that much time doing. Now there are easier, more comprehensive ways to take a group of images in Lightroom and create consistent and reliable workflows, so you’re not sitting at your computer all day instead of spending more time shooting. Especially when you start to become busier, this is a valuable tool.
When I do start altering colors, I try to do this consistently from the beginning so that when I need to tweak certain things afterwards, there remains a balance between all of the photographs as a group or story.
PDN: In what situations do you use Lightroom, and when do you opt for Photoshop CC?
KE: I use Lightroom almost always, and then depending on the shoot and the content, I will use Photoshop CC to go in and fix certain issues with images that might need cleaning up (a sign needs to be retouched out, a perspective that needs to be changed, blemishes on a models face that need to be fixed).
One of the hardest, but most valuable tools I have learned as a freelance photographer is that time is money. It is extremely important to find useful ways to edit larger groups of photos so that you can move onto your next project and not be prisoner to retouching! As someone starting out, Lightroom is extremely valuable to know first and foremost.
PDN: How much time, on average, do you spend editing your photos?
KE: I used to spend forever, but I didn’t know what I was doing. Now I spend a fraction of the time because I know which program to use for each job I am shooting. For example, I spent a day in Lightroom retouching an entire wedding I photographed (approximately 200 photos). I also spent an entire day retouching six photos for an eyewear print campaign in Photoshop CC. It just depends on what I’m looking to accomplish.
PDN: What do you think are the fundamentals a photographer should learn in Lightroom and Photoshop CC?
KE: In Lightroom, first and foremost, it is extremely important to understand how to process your RAW files. The next step is to create useful workflows for the kind of work you are shooting, and to create presets in Lightroom that can be applied and adjusted to all of your images efficiently.
In Photoshop CC, it’s fundamental to understand what you want to correct about your images and which tools to use, because there are an endless amount of possibilities with that program. It is the perfect tool for retouching, so understanding what you’re looking to accomplish is important. The first actions I learned in Photoshop CC were Layers and Masks in order to have the freedom to apply adjustments to specific areas of your image without affecting the rest.
PDN: Do you have any retouching tips for photographers looking to experiment with color? What are some of your favorite tricks in either program?
KE: I love using a tool in Photoshop CC called Selective Color. It allows you to adjust colors way more in depth. For example, if you want to subtract a little yellow out of your blacks, it creates an interesting purple effect. Experimenting with this tool can be a ton of fun. I also like adding gradient layers onto images to play with the color palette.
To see more work from Kate Edwards, visit www.kateedwardsphotography.com.
To learn more about Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Photoshop CC, visit www.adobe.com. The Creative Cloud Photography plan, offering both programs and more, is 9.99/mo.