Review: Designing an Image by Lindsay Adler

Lindsay Adler - Designing an ImageIf you want to start a career in commercial photography, the video collection Designing an Image is going to be an invaluable resource for you. In her 7-hour video course, Lindsay Adler takes you from the very basics of working in fashion and commercial photography all the way to the intricate details of lighting a scene and to diverse retouching techniques.

But this course is not only targeted at the aspiring fashion photographer. It is much more fundamental than that since it takes you through the thought process of creating an image. Lindsay shows you how to come up with an idea for a photo, how to turn that idea into a concept, and what it takes to get from that concept to your finished image. You will get lots of lighting tips, and you will learn new professional retouching techniques.

About the Author

5daydeal-oct14-contributor-lindsay-adlerLindsay Adler is a professional portrait and fashion photographer based in New York City. Her editorial work has appeared in numerous fashion and photography publications internationally including Noise, Bullett Magazine, Essence, Zink Magazine, Rangefinder and dozens more. She shares her passions and knowledge with others, and each year she lectures tens of thousands of photographers world-wide.

Learn more about Lindsay

The Topic

Lindsay covers a wide range of topics in her course but all of these topics are directed at a single goal: Putting together a commercial photo shoot and from the very start (getting an idea) to the very end (the finished image). In the 7 hours of the course, she takes you through all the stages in-between these milestones and shows you her (very successful) way of organizing and executing this process.

This short description already tells you that you’re going to learn much more than just some shooting or Photoshop techniques. Lindsay gives you the whole package with a lot of knowledge, experience and energy – or as she puts it herself: “I’ve poured my mind and heart out… and I hope you enjoy it!

While the setting of the course is fashion and beauty photography, it goes far beyond that, and it is much more general in that it actually covers a whole range of genres like wedding photography, portrait work in the studio etc. If you want to get into any of these areas, or if you are already a professional photographer, this course will provide an insane amount of valuable knowledge in virtually every area of your (future) business and work.

The Video Course

Here’s an lose overview of the contents and the different sections. The course is structured into three parts. The first part covers the basics of organizing a shoot, compiling an editorial and getting it published. The second part is about lighting. Lindsay explains and demonstrates 9 different lighting techniques in this part. The final part is all about retouching, and she explains many of the techniques and tricks that she uses for her own photos. Here is a more detailed list of what’s in each part.

  • Basics
    • How to start in fashion photography from scratch
    • How to find a model
    • Explaining all the different terms you need to know in the professional photography world
    • Shooting for model agencies
    • Working with models
    • The right attitude towards your work
    • Working with other creative people in the industry
    • Where to get inexpensive clothing for high-profile beauty shoots
    • How to set up your creative team (the people who make it all happen)
    • How to create a moodboard to design the concept and communicate it
    • How to shoot editorials and how to get them published
    • How to produce a shoot on a budget
    • How to make money with your photography
    • What a photography agent does for you
    • Where and how to get inspiration
  • High impact lighting techniques
    • Basic portrait lighting
    • High-key portrait lighting
    • Checkboard lighting
    • Point lighting
    • Dramatic portrait light
    • Using gels
    • High drama beauty lighting
    • Using a snoot
    • Wardrobe lighting
  • Retouching
    • The right philosophy towards retouching
    • How your knowledge of Photoshop changes your way of shooting
    • Adjustment layers and layer masks
    • Portrait retouching
    • Retouching teeth and chin
    • Frequency separation
    • How to use the Liquify filter to shape your photos/subjects
    • Retouching beauty photos
    • How to make selective color adjustments
    • Working with reflections
    • Creating grungy HDR-like looks
    • Using lens flare
    • How to create porcelain skin
    • How to create a 3D effect
    • How to add a background to an image
    • Using displacement maps to overlay an texture on a model

If stepping into the world of commercial photography intimidates you (as it does most people), Lindsay has a ton of tricks and tips that are very down to earth. When I was watching the course, I had so many Aha moments, and you’re going to have them too. Even if you are just doing it for fun, you can apply most of her tricks to your work, and some day, maybe the fun pays off.


Other Things You’ll Learn

Lindsay Adler is seen by many in the industry as the prototypical commercial photographer. She approaches every challenge in a very structured way, with skill and creativity. Something that you can take away from this course apart from the topics discussed above is this attitude of a highly successful photographer: Analyze the problem at hand, never panic and use your creativity to come up with a good solution that can then be turned into a tool for future situations. That’s at least what I took away personally.

The Style of Teaching

Lindsay does not waste a lot of time becoming overly philosophical about things. Her personality also shows in her teaching style which is very effective and to the point. The individual sections of the video are sometimes only a few minutes long, but she manages to get her knowledge across very effectively. At the same time you never feel as if you are being rushed.

That is a quality that not too many educators have.

The Summary

The Pros

  • This is a very professional production regarding the quality of the video.
  • The volume of information that is taught in this class is incredible. First, I thought that the regular price of $225 was a bit high. But when I watched the videos, I realized that it is worth every penny.
  • You will pick up so many little tips that can save you time and headaches.

The Cons

  • The course is split up into well over 50 individual videos. On the one hand this is good because it gives the course some structure. But from a usability standpoint, loading and viewing all the videos in the right order without skipping any by accident may be a challenge.
  • If you want to get into the action of shooting and retouching, the first few sections can get a bit long for you. But you can also watch that after you watched parts 2 and 3 without problems.

My Personal Tips for this video course

Here are my personal tips on how to work with this video course:

  • Prepare for a few long rainy afternoons with this video. You’re going to need some time for sucking in all the information that Lindsay has to offer.
  • Always have pen and paper (or the digital equivalent) ready for taking notes. You’re going to need it if you want to keep track of all the tricks that Lindsay has to offer.
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