Here is a little Question and Answer interview with Andrea after winning her second award for retouching.
First tell me a little bit about yourself.
My love affair with Photoshop started at high school graduation when my parents gifted me my first Macbook and Adobe CS2. Having grown up in an artistically inclined family and toting around VOGUE or the latest Victoria’s Secret catalog all through high school, I broke into Photoshop by putting my head on supermodel bods, and designing high fashion copycat ads with my sisters’ vacation photos. Up to my last semester of college I was a “trial-and-error, self-taught” photoshopper; which means, slider adjustments until it looks good, mouse clicks and menu scrolling, one layer editing, and not figuring out for YEARS that the reason why you can’t see your brush cursor is because CapsLock is on. It took one semester of Advanced Visual Media at Brigham Young University-Idaho, and one “completely-devoted-to -her-craft” professor to convince me this is what I want to do professionally.
I currently live in Monterrey, Mexico where I am the Technology Integration Specialist at Colegio Inglés, a prestigious English-immersed K-9 private school. I teach 9th grade Advanced Photoshop (CS6) and head up an after school Photography Club. After hours I can be found scouting models for my next shoot, editing a series of photos into an editorial spread, polishing off a magazine-ready retouch for a client, or Instagramming gorditas at the local taco stand.
You recently won a Guru award, what was that like?
Winning my 2nd Guru for Photo Retouching was such a self-defining moment about where I need to take my career. It was my second time running up for a picture with Larry, my second time seeing my photograph on metallic paper at the mPixPro booth, and seeing my work amongst a myriad of talent at the Expo Gallery. I got the reassurance I needed that it’s time to be professionally doing the craft that captivated me 7 years ago.
What made you decide to enter?
I entered the Guru Awards as a self-proclaimed “Rookie” at my first Photoshop World in Las Vegas 2011. Winning for Photo Retouching then, gave me even more confidence to compete on the east coast this time.
Tell me about the image. How and why you created it.What tools did you use? Photoshop, computer, etc…
Alejandra Gonzalez, a dear friend and coworker, is the model in “Grey Porcleain.” I always say a white wall, fan, and speedlite is all I need to transform a portrait into one that is supermodel-ready. At the time, I was launching a promotion advertised as such, where I just took quick shots and clients were paying for the wonderful world of post production editing. Ale is a mother of 3 and the shot was taken immediately after work against her dining room wall. I did not have the Guru or Photoshop World in mind, but in the months that followed, I found myself continuously going back and tweaking it. It was shot with my old camera, a Canon T1i, and edited 100% in Photoshop CS6 on my iMac and Bamboo Wacom. No plug-ins, presets, or actions, just a blank canvas portrait to pull out all the stops on.
Are there any special techniques you used in creating this image that our members might find interesting?–
I think the digital make-up application is what catches most people’s eye. Ale has those to- die-for crater eyelids and I had a ball trying on different looks. All of it was added on with different brush strokes, pressures, and opacities to achieve that smokey-eye look. The second thing most people comment on is the hair, which took about an hour to liquify. There was no selecting, cutting, or cloning, just old fashioned tucking and pulling. I had removed the light switch, but didn’t think to blend texture with the wall until I stepped back and looked at her finished make-up. That’s when I saw the piece as a composition and thought of “Grey Porcelain.” The piece as a whole took about 5 hours, and umpteen “let me just fix this part” minutes.
Do you have any other images similar that you would be willing to show us as well?
“Boss” and “Back in Black” were my other Portrait Retouching entries for this past PSW in Orlando. “Boss” is the product of a personal project, to do an alter-ego self portrait. It took a bit longer than “Grey Porcelain” to complete, and was all about the details: desaturating skin tone, applying acrylic nails, eyelashes, jewelry, purple hair lights, etc. I love the shock factor it carries, and is a personal favorite.
Where would you like your work to take you in the future? Vocationally or Artistically.
I have awards to show for photo retouching, which pairs well with my editorial approach to photography. However, on a broader scale my passion lies in art direction and executing a vision. I thrive on planning, stylizing, scouting, and casting all the components to tell a story, then editing those photos in a way that are “glossy magazine page” worthy.
A collection is not finished to me until it is coupled with words. A bold Didot Italic headline, and a drop cap to begin telling a behind-the-scenes anecdote, is where my craft for layout design really blooms. From start to finish, I realize I’m a one-woman show wearing several different hats to produce a finished product. At my recent portfolio review, Bert Monroy helped confirm that art direction is the avenue I should endeavor. I am most at home editing, designing, and creating, and I am ready to do that professionally.