How to Create the Perfect Employee Photo: A Step-by-Step Process

By July 31, 2014clypd Blog

From helping with the interior design of our new Somerville office, to designing and developing our products, graphic design for promotional items, and taking photos of our office and team, I love working at clypd and exercising all of my talents. It’s a welcome change from what I was doing just a few years ago.

When it came time to create team photos, we all agreed we wanted something a little different. We came up with a concept that each employee would hold a television while also being on the television. In this post, I will explain the step-by-step process to create our employee photos.

The Setup

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Background: The photo shoot begins with a roll of blue paper for the background.

Lighting:  I use a four-light setup: two White-Lightning x1600s and two x800s. I use the two x800s with grids for rim lights set to around f/11 and a x1600 for a background light also set to f/11. The key light is a x1600 fitted with a 22-inch bright white beauty dish and diffusion sock initially set to f/8. I usually bump this up or down depending on skin tone.

Camera: I use a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L mounted on a Canon 6D. My camera is set to 1/125th at f/8 at ISO 100 with a focal length of about 88mm.

Props: At clypd we have TVs everywhere. They are used for demos, monitoring, and meetings. We use a 32-inch Samsung LED and it weighs next to nothing for people to hold during their shoot.

The Shoot

After the setup is ready in our mock studio, I shoot a few test shots just to make sure the lighting looks good.

Each employee takes at least two shots, one without the TV with hands on hips and one shot holding the TV in front of his face. We tilt the TV slightly down to avoid any direct reflections of the key light. I also try to keep them from putting their fingers on the screen by holding just the bezel, saving some post-processing work.

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Post-processing

It took me years before I had a repeatable workflow for post-processing. Before Adobe Lightroom arrived, I tried everything, using a combination of folders and Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Bridge and Photoshop, Picasa and Photoshop, and many other combinations of software. Nothing really felt right until Lightroom came along.

Lightroom

After I import the photos into Lightroom, I browse the photos and mark the shots I like with a flag. I choose one shot without a TV and one with a TV. On more complicated shoots where I would have many shots that are similar, I mark them with stars and then use the flags for my final chosen shots.

Once I have my flagged shots, I use one of the four custom clypd presets created in Lightroom. This increases the sharpness, contrast, clarity, and saturation of the photo, while decreasing the vibrance slightly. It gives it a bit of an HDR look without looking overdone.

Each of the presets adjusts these in a slightly different way. Using whatever looks best for the subject, I apply the same preset to both the photo with the TV and without. I may tweak this a little further.

From here, I right click on the photo and open both photos with Lightroom adjustments in Photoshop.

Before Adjustments:

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After Adjustments:

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Photoshop

Once the photos are in Photoshop, I begin with the TV photo and make a selection around the LED screen inside the bezel. This is where we are going to paste the photo. I ignore cutting out the fingers for now – we will paint them in at a later time in the process.

Then, I select and copy the photo without the TV and Edit > Paste Special > Paste Into. This pastes the photo directly into the selection we made and creates a mask to make it look a like it’s in the screen. You can then adjust the photo by scaling or moving it around within the mask.

Next, I add an inner glow to that layer by double clicking on the layer and the selecting Inner Glow.

My settings can be seen below.

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Next, CMD + click on the mask to select the mask again. I have a pattern that I created to simulate scan lines of an older TV.  Mine was created in Illustrator and Photoshop but there are tons of free patterns to download online or tutorials to make your own. I open my scan lines and copy it. Then I go to Edit > Paste Special > Paste Into. This will paste the scan lines on top of the photo you pasted into the TV. I copy the layer style from the previous layer and paste the layer style to this layer as well. Then, click on the layer and set the Blend to Multiply and the Opacity to 33%. This is what the photo looks like now.
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Now, click back on the layer of the photo within the TV and go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise and add a bit of noise to the photo.

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Finally, I CMD + click back on the layer mask of either the scan lines or the photo inside the TV to get a selection. Then,  Select > Modify > Expand to expand the selection by approximately 4 pixels. Click on the background layer and copy and paste that layer at the top of the layer stack. To create a layer mask, go to Layer > Layer Mask > Hide All. Now, select the brush tool, select the foreground color as white, and select a brush size about the size of the person’s fingertips. Then make sure to have the mask selected and paint in the fingers.

Now, your photo is complete! It should look something like this:

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Questions on this process? Let us know in the comments section below!

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