J.R. Maddox won the Guru award for Retouching… Let’s find about a little more about him.

First tell me a little bit about yourself. 

Well, I’ve been employed by HP as a backup administrator since 2003.  For the past 5 years I’ve played around with Photoshop but never spent any serious time on anything in particular until 2012.  At that point, a friend of mine told me about NAPP and from then on I’ve spent some time almost every night on NAPP and on the KelbyTraining site.  I try and practice for at least 30 minutes a day, but when I get really involved in a project, I can get lost in my work for hours at a time.

In addition to photography, I love playing the drums and I have my pilot license, so I fly from time to time. I used to play golf professionally so now I’ll play for fun when I can.  Really, the list goes on and on, but at this point my passion is photography.

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

Winning the Guru award was the craziest and coolest thing ever!!!  I’m still in shock that I was even nominated.  To be awarded first place among so many great retouchers out there is absolutely amazing!  Honestly, I’m just so very thankful.

What made you decide to enter? 

As I signed up for Photoshop World, I saw that I could enter 3 images to any of the 7 categories. I figured I had to submit because you can’t win if you don’t enter. The hardest part was deciding on which three images to pick.  I wasn’t even going to submit the image that ultimately won.  First of all, my wife absolutely hated it.  Second, even though it was so different from the usual retouch photos I do, I took a risk and went against the grain a little.

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

One day Calvin Hollywood and Glyn Dewis were giving a free webinar where they were playing around with photos of themselves and placing their heads and faces on other bodies. It was really funny looking to say the least.  Right after the webinar I asked my wife if she would pose for one quick shot and then take a shot of me as well.  We used one 22 inch beauty dish on a grey seamless background. She wanted to know what the portraits were for and I told her that I was just playing around in Photoshop. Once I started manipulating different parts of the two images, I came up with this creepy, yet hilarious, photo.

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

The techniques I used were actually pretty simpleThe most important element when I shot the two photographs was to take both images in exactly the same light. Having them in the same light isn’t necessary but makes it easier in post.  Once in Photoshop, I used the lasso tool to cut out the eyes and nose of one person. Then I lowered the opacity to 50% so you can see both images.  I then used the free transform tool to arrange one face to fit the other.  I played around with whose eyes to use and whose nose to use. I basically tried to just have fun with it.

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

To think that I discovered photography and retouching only about two years ago is astonishing to me when I think about how much I’ve learned during that time.   I would love to make this my profession and the ability to spend time behind the camera and in Photoshop as a full time career would be a dream come true.  To me, photography and retouching are so much fun that I’m making every effort to make it happen.


Final comments:

All that I have learned and mastered has been from the NAPP site and KelbyTraining. Which is where I found Glyn Dewis, Calvin Hollywood and Joel Grimes, amongst others. One last thing I’ve learned is you don’t need all the expensive items to shoot great images.  You just have to shoot, shoot, and then shoot some more.  At one of Joel Grimes’ workshops he told me that once I found what I like to shoot, just keep shooting it over and over again to master your technique. This really helps to define your own style or brand. I’m still working on mine.  Just keep on shooting.

J.R. Maddox


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