How to GROW as a Photographer and Retoucher

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: April 21, 2014

Category: General

Hey Everyone,

How’s it going?

Thanks for stopping by the blog today; it’s very much appreciated.

Now if you’re a regular reader of my site (and thanks so much if you are) then you’ll know that I’m a BIG believer in having Personal Projects; I think it’s THE most important thing you can do if you’re looking to develop as a Photographer, Retoucher, Artist…

Question is though…What to do for a Personal Project? Well the answer here is anything so long as you’re doing something!

I know that may not sound very helpful but it is what it is. Personal Projects don’t have to be anything amazing; the idea here isn’t necessarily to create something never seen before but rather something that motivates you to pick up your camera and shoot!

Maybe it’s a project to shoot portraits a particular way and in a particular lighting set up; maybe it’s a project based on colour. Having a project no matter how big or small will keep you in a creative frame of mind; you’ll see things that maybe you didn’t see before.

At the moment I have two personal projects that I’m working on; both are completely different but both motivate the heck out of me: Animal Composites and my Invisible Black Background.

Animal Composites
I love Compositing in Photoshop and I love Animals so this one for me was a no brainer.

The project here is to create a body of work of approximately 20 pictures of animals BIG or small by the end of 2014 and the great thing here is that it’s something I can work on with my wife. Spending time around animals is something we both love to do so when out taking photographs we go together and the plan at the end of the project is to create a coffee table book of the images.

Mamma: Elephants in the Rain

No such thing as a Free Lunch

A couple of days ago we visited Whipsnade Wildlife Park in the UK; a great day out taking photographs for the project but also a great day spending time together and picnicking.

From the day out, one of the pictures I’m working on next is of a White Rhino walking across the dry African Grasslands searching for food and vultures circling up above but in the distance there will be storm clouds coming meaning…rain!

I’ll keep you posted with the progress…

Of course being at Whipsnade there was so much to photograph that I’ll keep hold of and look to use in other pictures too…

Invisible Black Background
Since teaching my ‘Dramatic Portraits with the Invisible Black Background‘ class at Photoshop World in Atlanta I’ve now set myself a project to shoot a complete body of work using this technique and again with the intention of creating a coffee table book of  images…

Photographer & Retoucher: Joel Grimes

So that’s what I’m working on at the moment but what about you?

Do you have something you’re focused on creating?

If nor then give yourself a project to work on…something you can create over a period of time and make it a complete body of work rather than pictures that follow a theme, style rather than random images; it’ll be the best thing you ever did!!!


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  1. Darren House

    Good Morning Glyn, Great Blog post. Very timely after 6 weeks of decorating ready for a baby arrival in June I hadn’t picked up my Camera or touched PS (not good) I had felt a little lost.
    I decided this BH weekend would be a kick start back in!

    I finally started my much talked about Head Shoot project. Well its amazing how many things are there ingrained in my brain after so many nights practicing.
    I would have been very disappointed to have read this today and not started it.

    Loving the two personal projects you have running. Keep up the great work.


  2. Ray Fidler

    Hi Glyn,

    Interesting you are revisiting your invisible background as a book project. Great idea.

    I have a year long project of shooting Basingstoke with a good friend of mine with the objective of doing camera club talks next year entitled One Town Two Cameras.

    In addition to learning off camera flash with Zack Arias One Light DVD I am working on two birthday cards for my grand daughters made up of their favourite things.

    Plus developing my Photoshop skills trying to use a new technique on every image I process.

    Looking forward to your animal project evolving because that will be further inspiration for me and many others.

    Have a great day


    • Glyn

      Thanks Ray.
      Looking forward to seeing what you come up with now; with all this learning and motivation it’s going to be awesome!!!!

      Catch you soon

  3. DaveT

    Hi Glyn,

    Great idea and a good way to stay focused (pardon the pun) on something. I’m hoping to put together some small coffee table books of trips I have done. Or perhaps the ‘best of’ a particular year. I’m going to look at the layout of books to get an idea of what works best using white space etc, to get ideas.

    Good luck with your projects,


  4. Roberto Palmari

    Hi Glyn, thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas with us, you’re always very inspiring.
    My personal project is a bit demanding at the time since it doesn’t really just involves my photography or retouching skills and practice. I call it “finding myself”. After a few recent years of struggle and pain at personal and family level, photography has given me a chance not only to cores myself but also to hope for a brighter future (and I don’t necessarily mean economically), then I met you in Germany last year and I realized that hard working on myself I could make it happen and fom then on I tried to find my own language, my own way of expressing my ideas and feelings. So this is my project now, keep on experimenting many different things to finally egg to know o am I and how can I make myself visible to the others with my photography and retouch.
    Once again, thank you so much for crossing the path of my life and giving so much inspiration.

    • Glyn

      One of the things I’m grateful to Photography and Photoshop for is the people I’ve met and the friends I make along the way; dear friends such as yourself. You’re a truly great and decent guy with a BIG heart and I’m proud to be able to call you my friend; someone I would help at the drop of a matter what.

      I look forward to seeing you again in the not too distant future but also seeing what comes from your creativity.
      Speak soon,

  5. Roberto Palmari

    Thanks Glyn, from the deep of my heart.
    You’re a great man and I’m proud of being your friend.

  6. Rajesh Taylor

    Hi Glyn, just read this post! Since we last met at the presentation you gave in London I have used your points on planning and preparation for personal projects. Yes – I did listen to everything you said 🙂

    I’ve just finished a street portrait set around Shoreditch, London called Gun Street. I wanted to approach total strangers off the street and ask them for a portrait. I believe everyone deserves an epic or beautiful portrait of themselves. And for whatever reason believe its my duty and obligation to produce it for them. The biggest challenge I used to go through was to engage with a stranger, get them comfortable and produce an epic shot in under a minute.

    The second challenge was more technical, white balance and fighting natural light. The third was finishing inside 3 weeks around paid work assignments. I have now finished it and its online here:

    I would absolutely be chuffed if you’d take a look at some point. I’d love any critique on it. I’m used to very direct feedback so be as blunt as you like. If you hover over some of the portraits some characters have 2 lines of story with them. I have now done 2 streets around Shoreditch and my plan is to do the main streets in the area and present an interactive Google map style exhibition one day of the collections.

    My next project is to incorporate – weather permitting use of the beauty dish. Keep adding wood to the fire and adding another component. Thanks Glyn.

    • Glyn

      Rajesh…Great to hear you’re working hard and have been focusing on some personal projects! I’ll definitely check out the results and get back to you.


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