Karin Dailey, congrats on winning the Guru award! Tell me a little bit about yourself. (job, background, likes, hobbies, etc… take the opportunity to let folks know who you are)

I synthesized DNA for a biotech company for 8 years and at some point along the way, picked up a camera. I got started in concert photography, shooting musicians in local bars on a nightly basis and eventually some of my favorite artists. I went back to school part-time for photography (CDIA in Waltham, MA) – to strengthen what was self-taught and figure out Photoshop – I had CS2 at the time.      

For the past 3 years, I have been shooting fashion/apparel for a Boston-based, online “flash sale” company.  I spend a lot of free time nerding out in the Adobe Creative Suite, creating my personal work – which is what I submitted as a Guru Award entry. 

You recently won a Guru award, what was that like?

 I got an email a few weeks before the conference telling me that one of my submissions had been selected as a finalist. During the Key Note/Opening Ceremony I was feeling anxious – knowing that if I did win, I’d have to get up on the stage in front of everyone.  They called my name as the ‘Artistic’ category winner and I remember jogging (in slow motion) around the auditorium and up to grab the award from Larry Becker. I was trying hard not to fall.

 You feel like a local celebrity in between conference classes, because so many people are kind enough to stop and congratulate. My co-worker, Megan, said that she was ‘Guru Security’ for the day. 

What made you decide to enter?

My company sent me to the conference to absorb new techniques and find new ways to improve our shooting and post-production workflow. I entered the Guru competition simply for the opportunity to put my work in front of the Photoshop experts. I didn’t expect to be a finalist/winner, but it never hurts to try. Can I throw a #yolo in here for the young folks? :)


Tell me about the image. How and why you created it.

During the week, I am shooting a very high quantity of items at a fast pace. I wanted to slow down and make some art. I got together with a super talented team – model, HMU artist, and wardrobe stylist and built from there. I knew I was going to do most of the background work in Photoshop, so I set up the shot on just a clean, grey toned sweep. The focus was capturing great expressions from our model and keeping the light soft and simple.

 I get a lot of my inspiration from illustrators, fashion and collage artists. I usually start by picking 5-6 colors to work with and start experimenting with shapes and composition. The piece was created using various custom brushes, patterns, shapes, color fills, gradients, fonts and textures and it went in a few different directions before being complete. The blending modes are my best friends.

What tools did you use? Photoshop, computer, etc…

 I’m rocking a PC (HP Pavilion), CS6 and the Wacom Intuos4. I shoot Canon at work and Nikon at home. I use Pinterest as my mega, huge inspiration hub: http://pinterest.com/karindailey/likes/ -  No kittens, recipes or DIY projects are allowed on my feed – well, only if the kittens are really, REALLY cute.

Back to the point. The Wacom Intuos4 gives me the ability to work with a stylus, instead of a brick (the mouse). The Wacom tablets give the user absolute control and it feels more like traditional pencil and paper. It makes all the difference, when heading this direction in Photoshop. I actually won the tablet from the 2009 Guru Awards! So…thank you NAPP!


Are there any special techniques you used in creating this image that our members might find interesting?

There is nothing super fancy going on here, except that each element is on its own layer. I have found that I have the most flexibility, (warping, masking, adjusting opacity, blending mode, etc.) if everything is on its own layer. I spend just as much time cleaning up and retouching the image as I do scribbling and painting. It’s mostly building and blending. Sometimes a texture layer over everything, with the opacity knocked down is enough to pull the whole thing together. 

Side note: The new erodible brushes in CS6 are insane. If you haven’t played with them yet…go. now!

Another side note:  I love the solid color adjustment layer on an appropriate blending mode to create an overall mood through tone (cool vs. warm).


Do you have any other images similar that you would be willing to show us as well?

Here are three other images from the same shoot (attached). I think they all ended up going different places, instead of being cohesive as a series – which is OK with me. These were all about messing around in Photoshop and getting lost in the creation process. 

Where would you like your work to take you in the future? Vocationally or Artistically.

I just want to keep creating. The more you practice your craft, the more you improve technique and vision. I am starting to do more “real life” painting, sketching and watercolor and combining that digitally in Photoshop to the images I produce.  I want to make pieces that end up as album covers, billboard advertisements, somewhere in print, or on a gallery wall.


retouching & portraits




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