Like many photographers, I LOVE tutorials. They're my crack. Rarely a day goes by for me without watching one. Of course, it's always important to get off the couch and make something, but who doesn't love learning from a great teacher while daydreaming about all of the amazing things you'll do with your new found skills?
My favorite place for tutorials is Creative Live. Their website and app are well designed and easy to use, and they have tons of classes taught by real working pros. Plus, if you catch a class while it's live, it's FREE! (Note: This is not a paid endorsement, I just really love Creative Live.)
Each time I log in, I check in on a little class that changed my life. But time after time, I'm disappointed to find that it still has not received the recognition it deserves!
That class is Retouch with Curves In Photoshop® by Viktor Fejes.
It's a masterclass on the real workhorse of Photoshop—Curves. I've watched hundreds (maybe thousands) of hours of tutorials, and this little unassuming class has done more for me than almost all of them. So you can understand my frustration when I see it only has six reviews and two of them are not positive. I'm one of the positive reviews, btw.
Let me explain why I believe this class is not as popular as is should be, and then I'll show you what it has done for my work.
It's not for beginners. Viktor does an excellent job of diving into curves and the many ways you can use them in your retouching. He doesn't teach you how to open a file or create a new layer—and he shouldn't have to. This class is for experienced photographers and retouchers who want to take their retouching to the next level. If that's your goal, this class delivers.
"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."
Viktor's class is not prescriptive. You won't learn how to press a few buttons and create a filter that will magically make every picture look "cool." A lot of us want to be given the fish—a trick to make your images automatically look like "the pros." Shortcuts don't work, and rather give a shortcut, Viktor teaches how to analyze and retouch any image. It's hard work and takes practice, but it's worth it.
Case Study: Me
This is what my images looked like before taking the class.
It's clever and imaginative, but the retouching relies on a VSCO filter and heavy grain. In my opinion, the retouching distracts from the story the image is trying to tell.
This is an image I made after taking the class and practicing the concepts Viktor teaches.
No more VSCO and no more heavy grain! The class gave me the confidence and the ability to retouch my images without relying on filters or tricks.
My composite work is not the only thing that has improved. Here's a portrait I made and retouched a few days ago. I never would have been able to make this image before the class.
Here's a gif of the before and after.
A picture is supposedly worth a thousand words, so those images should probably be my conclusion. If my improvement over the last few months doesn't convince you to take the class, I don't know what will. I'll wrap it up with this: If you've been at it for a while and feel stuck with your retouching work, watch Retouch with Curves In Photoshop® by Viktor Fejes on Creative Live. You won't regret it.
Good luck out there, friend!