Steve Madden

Quick Photoshop Practice and Exploring Shoe Photography

More and more recently, I've been trying to put together quick challenges to push myself to become a better photographer. But more than that, I've been pushing myself to put out work more quickly, pushing perfectionism out the door. It's been a challenge for sure, but the results have been worth it. On a recent trip to the coffee shop, I found myself getting restless, constantly looking out the window and thinking about something that I could photograph. I decided to get up and explore the neighborhood a little. That's what I came across an art installment. I tried photographing it a few different ways, ultimately coming up with a handful of abstract shots, but it wasn't what I was looking for. I wanted something different that what I've been doing in the past. 

That's when I began thinking back to one of my favorite YouTube channels, Evan Ranft, you can find his website here as well: Evan's been talking about and occasionally showing his workflow when it comes to photographing shoes. I've been enamored ever since. So, that's what I tried.

Without a new pair of kicks, I decided to give it a shot with my six month old pair of Steve Madden P-Sectors. I bought them a few months ago as something I wouldn't mind wearing out and about, as well as a pair of shoes that I wouldn't be too concerned with recking. They've worked pretty well. Anyway, as you can probably tell, the shoes have six months worth of wear and tear. I wore these as my main shoes for a recent trip to Chicago and I walked miles in them. They're dirty, scuffed, and creased, but I thought that would be even more of an adventure. 

To start, I edited the shoes in Lightroom with some mild changes. I darkened the image slightly, but now that I'm looking at it, I think I preferred it when it was a little brighter. All part of the process, am I right? After some lite editing, I pulled the image into Photoshop for some quick retouching. I was trying to get the image done in about an hour and a half, all editing included. I think I came out around 1:45, so I'll call that a win. 

I started by editing the gray suede-like surface with a frequency separation technique. I found it worked better than just trying to use the standard healing brush. Once done I moved on to the other, smoother grays. They were much easier to edit. I then switched gears and started working on the soles. It was touch because of the wear and tear on the shoes. There were a number of creases, as well as spots of mud from where I was walking moment prior. I decided to outline the sole with the lasso tool and paint everything with white, adding slight color differences near the bottom and where the sole meets the upper. It was certainly too bright and smooth, so I added some noise, and desaturated it. Finally, I came in with dodge and burn and tried to shape the shoes a little further. 

All in all, I think it was a fun experiment. I challenged myself to perform under a heavy deadline with less than ideal situations and the final product worked well for compressed Instagram at the very least. If I take more time on them, I'll certainly brighten the image back up and think about adding some more effort into the soles. Nevertheless, I'm still happy. 

Check them out and a bunch of the other work I've been creating on Instagram: @brucecreativeworks and @sprucedbruce. Thanks for following along.