Inspiration is a fickle little thing. Some days you have more of it than you know what to do with, and other days you’re looking for it like your car keys that you can’t find anywhere! Fortunately for me, inspiration struck after a period of being stuck inside the house retouching my days away only to realize how much I missed being in the studio. I felt like years had already passed me by and I began to wonder if I was the photography version of Tom Hanks in Castaway, and land was being in the studio. Wilson was my Wacom pen staring back at me. No, I don’t talk to my stylus!

As I haven’t been in the studio for a while, I only had my good old Canon 5D classic with me. With new tech constantly being released and cameras being put down for missing features as if they aren’t any good, I took time to look at the files that came out of the 5D classic. I realized they still held up to today! I realized I didn’t need anything else to go to the studio and enjoy myself. Even better, feelings of nostalgia came back and I still really trusted my camera. It’s a no frills machine that kept on working and I was happy to see what else I could do with it today that I hadn’t done in the past. I still remember retouching for clients who used to send me files on the 5D, that went straight to print for editorial work. There was a reason I bought the camera then and I soon realized those reasons held up today.

Okay, I’m being comedically dramatic but being a retoucher with a history in photography, I still crave being in the studio and a lot of time had definitely elapsed. Naturally, I made plans to do so after a makeup artist I used to work with, Darcie Teasley, got in touch and asked if she wanted to shoot. Ecstatically I said yes! My good friend Sofia Van Der Dys had a studio that I love working in and we made it happen. Clearly, this isn’t an important commercial campaign, but a personal test for the sake of passion.

The files were plenty sharp, and the colors were beautiful. Being that I was shooting in the studio, the dynamic range was more than enough as I wasn’t recovering a lot in post. However, considering we weren’t using these beyond small print and web, it was more than fine. At 100 ISO the files are still clean and beautiful. I was honestly surprised by the fact that the colors were great and being that it was just 12.8MP, I didn’t have a lot to retouch! I had my old Tamron 28-75 2.8 and I shot at 75mm. Optimally, when possible I prefer shooting beauty at 100mm (at least). But as you can tell from the images, it worked out just fine! On set we only had our Alien Bees and White Lightning strobes that Sofia has at her studio.

I was pleasantly surprised with the way the images turned out it was adequate for what I was going for. I admit, I was still worried because I assumed sensor tech had evolved so much in SLR cameras that I would feel like I was missing a lot of information. Fortunately, I really wasn’t and I truly loved the images. Reality is a very different from what you read on paper. The color reproduction was great, I had enough pixel real estate to retouch knowing I didn’t need anything larger, and most importantly the team was all very happy. Last I heard, the team gained a few jobs from the shots! I am glad I trusted old faithful because it is what made me fall in love with photography from the get go.

Granted, there are times when we’re also working with Phase One 100MP systems and Profoto Pro-10 packs and heads on jobs I assist on. As a retoucher, I see all sorts of files come through my screen. Although they are all so beautiful, the point here is that even with a body you can pick up for a couple of hundred bucks, you can create beautiful photographs as long as you have a vision for what you are trying to accomplish and the set of tools needed to get there. The latest and greatest is great, when it’s needed.

Here are some BTS images of my setup:


Model – Shannon @real_shannon (Page Parkes Agency @pageparkescorp)

Makeup – Darcie Teasley @makeupbydarcie

Hair – Susie Flores-DeBlieck @susieqhairandmakeup

Assist – Amy Scott @aescottdesigns

Special thank you to Sofia van der Dys @sofiavanderdys for her studio and making this possible.