Got something in my eye!

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    Okay, so I’m thinking more and more about doing portrait photos to get some side cash, but I notice that really good portrait photos tend to have eyes that just POP out at you. Is this photoshop? I’ve seen some tutorials on how to do it using burn and dodge, but I’d like to try to avoid photoshop as much as possible. I just can’t seem to get these sort of results straight out of my camera, though. Your thoughts?

    Eyes, Dwarka by Marji Lang, on Flickr

    black_and_white_Portrait – IMG_0071-800 by Bahman Farzad, on Flickr

    Our resident tchau

    Zoe – Sunshine by TrentChau, on Flickr

    Aside from the eyes, is there anything else I should focus on in photoshopping? I don’t want to make people fake, but want to make sure I’m getting good quality, too. For comparison, here’s a photo of my niece – her eyes are naturally bright, but they don’t “pop” the same way. It’s not really a portrait-style photo either, but that’s an entirely different problem 😉

    Blue-Eyes by Farktographer1, on Flickr


    For one thing, in the first and third photos you present as examples the women are wearing eye make-up.
    In the second image, there is some post-processing to wash out the face and have the eyes pop.

    Have you tried putting eye-liner on your niece?

    (Also, you have a full body shot of your niece… close-up on her face, minimizing the balloons and see how much more here eyes pop now that they’re the most colorful thing in the image.)

    But that’s just my observation based on the images you’ve presented. I haven’t done a careful study of portraits, but I don’t think eyes are everything. If you want an image that grabs, make sure the eyes are attention-getting (Olivia Wilde, anyone?), they’re looking straight at the camera, and extraneous stuff is at a minimum. There’ve been plenty of good images with closed eyes, or less than “grabby” eyes… they just require that other elements fall into place (or are carefully arranged).


    Like this?

    It’s a secret….

    (layers for this one but my OnOne software has a great preset for popping eyes)


    Eyes that have a bright reflection in them (the not-pupil part, preferably iris) seem to pop more too. You can see it for yourself in the bathroom mirror with a flashlight.


    Your top two examples were done with catch lights

    while they may have been enhanced in photoshop it was location lighting that made them pop. The first one is a natural catch light from what I can tell, the second is a strobe. If you zoom in on the eye and look at the shape of the light you can usually reverse engineer the lighting source.

    FWIW there is nothing in photoshop that compares to good source lighting at the shoot for making eyes stand out.


    In photoshop you can make eyes pop using dodge tools but yeah what ennuipoet said.


    Yugo – Yeah, I just ran on flickr and grabbed the first photo I could for comparison, but it’s probably not a great one. If it was more up close, I’m sure her eyes would pop, but I just don’t know if it’d be anything like these other ones. I agree eyes aren’t always everything, but they seem to draw me in for a lot of images, so it’d just be nice to know how to get that 😉

    NBD – sort of like that, but I’d go a bit less dramatic with them; I want something subtle so it looks fairly realistic.

    staplermofo, ennui, Kes – there was an article a while ago about making a ring light, and I was really considering it for this; I think photoshop should be used as a last resort. If I want to focus on someone’s eyes (Olivia Wilde…wow), I’ll just have to keep in mind to get a bright light in a good position to reflect and act as a catch light (great article by the way, didn’t know it was called that), and photoshopping if I really need to.

    Thanks, everyone. Loads of help here.


    Noticed this article in the same place as the approaching strangers to ask for photos article linked in Get Some Strange


    In the old days (late 1990s) it was trendy to shape the lights so that the reflection in the eye would act as an added effect.
    Example: heart

    You can get non-flash (always on) LED ring lights with screw on adapters for all the popular sizes for like $30 these days.

    (posted to post H!P video)

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