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    © Pratik Naik

    Balancing

    Retouching & Photography

    with Pratik Naik

    Pratik Naik is a retoucher, photographer and educator who has over 15 years of experience in the industry with a huge passion for creating and helping others.

    Besides being one of the industry's leading retouchers, Pratik has also curated many online photography communities and created photoshop panels and toolkits for photographers.

    He still makes time to follow his passion for creating truly stunning portraits.

    © Pratik Naik

    We all hope to produce memorable pieces, and we want our styles to come through. I've always said that style is something that others recognize in us, like a fingerprint of our personality. But we often can't see our own style.

    For me, I want my style to communicate a mix of simplicity and emotion. I want the viewer always to connect instantly when they come across my work, wrapped in a timeless and classy package.

    © Pratik Naik

    The basics of photography

    I got my first camera back in 2005 - a point and shoot from Sony (P200.) It had a manual mode, and I learned all about the basics of photography on it!

    The following year, I ended up getting a Rebel Xti and began taking portraits from then on. That ended up being around the time I found about Model Mayhem. I started reaching out to locals to work with on all kinds of photography projects.

    This was pivotal in helping me find what my true passion is.

    Eventually, I found my place in the portrait/beauty side of things and immediately loved capturing emotion and pairing light to match. It's an art in itself to find the right lighting for each person!

    "Photography and retouching is a love affair that has gone hand in hand since the beginning."

    © Pratik Naik

    Creating art with Photoshop

    Before I began my photography journey in high school, I created art with Photoshop. While in college, when photography made an appearance in my life, I ultimately had a full grasp of the program already. It made the transition into editing photos a bit easier than most! It's been 20 years since I started with Photoshop.

    Ultimately, I fell in love with retouching in the photography industry because I found out just how critical taking a photo to the next level was. I got addicted to the process of bringing an image to the final point. Retouching snowballed, and it became my life for the following 10+ years. It allowed me to travel the world, teach others, meet other creatives, and be on set with top photographers. Seeing the raw files of thousands of photographers over my career made me understand lighting from a deeper perspective than most others have the luxury of seeing.

    © Pratik Naik
    © Pratik Naik

    While this was happening, I was still shooting but not as often as I wanted to with everything else going on.

    However, I recently launched a few digital apps for Photoshop (Infinite Color Panel). It allowed me to clear more free time to pursue other creative interests. I limited my retouching clients and started planning for what else I wanted to engage in.

    Photography immediately filled that gap as one of those interests, and I jumped straight in. I really have a desire to realize my full potential. Now I shoot regularly and still enjoy doing so after all these years.

    My history in retouching has been a massive blessing. It truly feels like seeing the future before it happens. You pay attention to all the little things, like the way clothes fold on a subject, or being able to inspect makeup, knowing just how much work it will take for anything that isn't perfect.

    © Pratik Naik

    Having all of my past client's work in my subconscious, I can reflect on setups that I want to emulate and apply them right away. With the results I get, I can tell if I need to change up modifiers to match what I see in mind as well. It becomes an organic process that feels like second nature before setting up the day's first light stand.

    My favorite part of the creative process

    Being able to find a subject that excites me to pick up the camera. I love photographing people that strike me as unique. This makes my mind go into overdrive thinking of all the ways I want to light them!

    That is my favorite part, the previsualization before a shoot.

    I am constantly in the studio, expanding my boundaries, and seeing how I can push myself. Each shoot allows me to evolve and experiment with different lighting styles. It's leading me to really be creative.

    © Pratik Naik

    "Each shoot allows me to evolve and experiment.

    It's leading me to really be creative."

    Play with your gear

    At the beginning of my journey, I always played it safe with large softboxes or beauty dishes, but recently I've begun playing with gels and using them to amplify mood paired with hard lighting.

    I've started to also play with mixing constant lights and flash together or simply using the modeling light with ambient light at a shallow depth of field to create some unique looks. I love the uncontrolled look of ambient supplemented with strategic lighting placements to complement the scene.

    © Pratik Naik

    I currently own two Elinchrom ELC strobes with a series of Snaplux modifiers (the Octa, Strip, and Recta softboxes) along with two deep white 105 cm (41'') umbrellas and a couple of grid reflectors. I also have a 20-gel set as well!

    The variety of these allows me to do everything I primarily want to while giving me the freedom to experiment and create unique looks.

    © Pratik Naik

    "Don't get discouraged with photography.

    It's a lifelong process, and it isn't a race.

    My best advice

    Don't get discouraged with photography. It's a lifelong process, and it isn't a race. It's something we all have to keep in mind when working on our craft.

    Keep experimenting and keep shooting; you'll constantly look back and see your progress, getting closer to your overall vision.

    © Pratik Naik

    Pratik's To Go Set

    • ELC 125 / 500

      ELC 125 / 500N° 20762.2.US

    • Umbrella Deep White 105 cm (41”)

      Umbrella Deep White 105 cm (41”) N° 26356

      Elinchrom deep umbrellas are manufactured using 16 fiberglass rods to maintain a perfect circular shape.

      By simply adjusting the position, the deep shape offers control of the light spread.

      The White umbrella is often chosen for its slightly warmer tones and softer shadow transition.

      This umbrella is 45 cm deep.

      For Quadra, ELB 400/500 heads, we recommend using the Q-Reflector Adapter MK-II for umbrella sizes bigger than 85 cm to avoid any risk of damage.

    • Snaplux Octa Softbox 60cm (24")

      Snaplux Octa Softbox 60cm (24")N° 26639

      Octagonal is dedicated to portrait, beauty and fashion.

      Portrait, beauty and fashion photographers will love the Snaplux Octa Softbox 60 cm

      because of the incredible catchlight they can achieve.

      Incl. Grid 30°, external diffuser and carrying bag.
      Please note; the Snaplux Adapter is not included and must be ordered separately.

    • Snaplux Recta Softbox 55x75cm (22x30")

      Snaplux Recta Softbox 55x75cm (22x30")N° 26638

      Rectangular is the photographer’s all-round workhorse.

      For general purpose photography like portraiture and product shots, the Snaplux Recta Softbox 55 x 75 cm is a must.

      Their shape and size offer maximum flexibility, beyond a rectangular catchlight.

      Incl. Grid 30°, inner and external diffusers and carrying bag.
      Please note; the Snaplux Adapter is not included and must be ordered separately.

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