We were recently contacted to clean up this photo for a special client. Basically, they wanted it to look like it was a family photo shoot instead of a group shot at an event with several hundred people wandering around in the background.
Situations like this are always difficult. Sometimes you can move the group to an area that has a better background or where you can have more control over the situation. Other times, like this situation, you do your best and then take what you can get.
When you have to be happy with what you got, there are several things you can do to make your photoshoppin’ easier. Let me make it clear though, Photoshop shouldn’t be relied upon to save a bad image, it can only make a good image better. Its always better to spend a little more time behind the camera and less time in photoshop making these kind of time consuming edits.
Tips to help reduce photoshop editing time:
1 – Make sure to use the correct exposure with enough depth of field so that all the important people are in focus.
2 – Try to limit the depth of field to just the group. No reason to shoot F22 if you can get the entire group in F8.
3- Try to create some distance between where the distractions are and the group. In this case, I had them standing on a staircase. This created depth between where the other guests were walking around and the back row of the group. This helps with making sure the background is out of the range of focus (DoF)
4- Take as many exposures as you can. While I always try to get at least 2 frames of any group like this in case someone blinks or looks unflattering, its critical to get at least 3 exposures from which to draw background elements from.
5- Be sure to use the same focal lens for each of the exposures. This will make it much easier to line up background elements. If you can use a tripod, even better.
6- Finally, if you can, take a couple of pictures of the background with as few distractions as possible after the group has left. This gives you more opportunities for aligning the background and eliminating the elements you need to.
More to come…