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Pratik Naik: Balancing Retouching & Photography

Meet Pratik Naik- a retoucher, photographer, educator, and entrepreneur who has over 15 years of experience in the industry with a huge passion for creating and helping others. Pratik, in addition to being one of the industry's leading retouchers, has also curated many online photography communities, created Photoshop panels and toolkits for photographers, and still makes time to follow his passion of creating truly stunning portraits.

“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 to always connect instantly when they come across my work; wrapped in a timeless and classy package.”

“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. In high school, before I began my photography journey, I was involved in creating 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. Being able to see the raw files of thousands of photographers over my career made me understand lighting to a deeper perspective than most others have the luxury of seeing.

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) and it gave me the opportunity to clear more free time in order 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. Having all of my past client’s work in my subconscious, I can reflect back on setups that I want to emulate and apply it 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’s become an organic process that feels like second nature before even setting up the first light stand of the day.”

When asked about Pratik’s favorite part of the creative process, he responded with: “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."


“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 it 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.”

“I currently own two Elinchrom ELC 125 strobes with a series of Snaplux modifiers (the octa, strip, and recta softboxes) along with two deep white 41-inch 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.”

When we asked Pratik what his biggest advice to photographers is he said:
"Don’t get discouraged with photography. It’s a life long 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."

To see more of Pratik’s work and to keep up on his future projects:
Find him on Instagram at @shotbypratik and @solsticeretouch

For his retouching educational content, photoshop panels for photographers, and retouching portfolio check out these links:
www.infinitecolorpanel.com

www.theretouchingseries.com

www.solsticeretouch.com

Pratik’s current lighting kit is:

  • ELC 125 Studio Monolight with TTL, HSS and Smart Pro-Active Cooling

    $619.99More infoAdd to cart

    ELC 125 Studio Monolight with TTL, HSS and Smart Pro-Active Cooling

    EL20618.1.US

    The Elinchrom ELC 125 Studio Monolight is a modern 125 Ws compact built to handle your next adventure reliably and consistently. Featuring TTL with Manual Lock, HSS, Smart Pro-Active Cooling, Auto-On, and direct compatibility with Elinchrom's world-renown light modifiers. Always Prepared The ELCs are ready to go the moment inspiration strikes you. With Auto-On, the unit is always in stand by mode with your previous settings saved, and the onboard TTL speeds up dialing in your next exposure. The Manual Lock function enables a quick switch from TTL to Manual without losing exposure settings for quick adjustments or to explore creative effects. Engineered to Last Every aspect of the ELC 125 has been designed and rigorously tested to deliver maximum reliability and extended lifetime. Elinchrom created the ELCs to last through your next adventure. And the one after. And many after that. Stay Cool Under Pressure With Elinchrom's Smart Pro-Active Cooling, the ELC's learn your shooting style and adapt their cooling cycles around it, never interrupting your creative flow. Plus, their cleverly engineered airflow design and low-noise speed-controlled fan can handle the heaviest of workloads. Explore More As important as a solid studio strobe is, the light modifier is where the real magic happens. The bayonet Quick-Lock system grants you direct access to Elinchrom's world-renown light modifiers. Combined with the ELC's bright, Daylight LED modeling lamp to aid your pre-visualization. The potential to evolve your lighting style is endless. Unlimited Flexibility Your equipment should never limit you. Whether you are experimenting in your living room or working in a large studio, the ELC 125 can acclimate. ELCs can be powered down to 7 Ws so that you can reach your desired depth of field or add only a hint of light. Plus, with HSS, you can freeze motion, overpower ambient light and darken backgrounds. Edit Less, Deliver Faster. Elinchrom's precise colour science and accuracy over the whole power range enables you to deliver professional and consistent results to your clients with less wasted time and money in post-production. Wireless Freedom Never miss a shot with Elinchrom's Skyport radio-frequency system compatible with 7 camera brands. You also get intuitive control of flash settings from your camera and your computer. Even non-Elinchrom units and speedlights can be integrated into the wireless setup via the Elinchrom Skyport Receiver Plus.

    $619.99
    QTY
    Add to cart

  • Umbrella Deep White 41"

    $106.95More infoAdd to cart

    Umbrella Deep White 41"

    EL26356

    Elinchrom Umbrella Deep White 105 Cm (41").

    Add an optional translucent diffuser EL26761 to deliver the effect of an indirect softbox.

    $106.95
    QTY
    Add to cart

  • 20 Color Filters 21cm

    $65.00More infoAdd to cart

    20 Color Filters 21cm

    EL26256

    Set of twenty assorted gels in bright colors. They can be fitted on the 21cm (8.26") Reflector, which requires the Lightshaper Carrier 26034 to bring vivid color to any photography.

    Green blue and purple all absorb heat rapidly and may melt.

    $65.00
    QTY
    Add to cart

  • Snaplux Quick-Open Octabox 24in (60cm)

    $189.99More infoAdd to cart

    Snaplux Quick-Open Octabox 24in (60cm)

    EL26639

    The Elinchrom Snaplux Quick-Open Octabox 24in (60cm) is an octaganal shaped softbox perfect for creating natural catchlights in your subject's eyes. Featuring a Quick-Open mechanism Snaplux softboxes combine the ease and set up speed of umbrellas with the directionality and light quality of a softbox. To create Snaplux Quick-Open softboxes Elinchrom sourced the same material used in their line of Deep Umbrellas for it’s proven durability and even spread of light. For increased control over direction and light spread All Snaplux's include a 30° Snapgrid. Also included is a clearly labeled carry case for quick identification on set; however, the required speed ring is sold separately. Snaplux Speedrings (Required and Sold Separately) Available for 6 strobe brands including: Elinchrom (full size) Elinchrom Q-Mount Profoto / OCF Bowens S-Mount AlienBee / Balcar Broncolor

    $189.99
    QTY
    Add to cart

  • Snaplux Quick-Open Rectabox 22x30in (55x75cm)

    $169.99More infoAdd to cart

    Snaplux Quick-Open Rectabox 22x30in (55x75cm)

    EL26638

    The Elinchrom Snaplux Quick-Open Rectabox 22x30in (55x75cm) is a rectanglular shaped softbox that can be used horizontally or vertically for more flexibility. Featuring a Quick-Open mechanism Snaplux softboxes combine the ease and set up speed of umbrellas with the directionality and light quality of a softbox. To create Snaplux Quick-Open softboxes Elinchrom sourced the same material used in their line of Deep Umbrellas for it’s proven durability and even spread of light. For increased control over direction and light spread All Snaplux's include a 30° Snapgrid and carry case; however, the required speed ring is sold separately. Snaplux Speedrings (Required and Sold Separately) Available for 6 strobe brands including: Elinchrom (full size) Elinchrom Q-Mount Profoto / OCF Bowens S-Mount AlienBee / Balcar Broncolor

    $169.99
    QTY
    Add to cart

  • Snaplux Quick-Open Stripbox 14x30in (35x75cm)

    $149.99More infoAdd to cart

    Snaplux Quick-Open Stripbox 14x30in (35x75cm)

    EL26637

    The Elinchrom Snaplux Quick-Open Stripbox 14x30in (35x75cm) is a narrow softbox that can be used as either a sidelight or fill light. Featuring a Quick-Open mechanism Snaplux softboxes combine the ease and set up speed of umbrellas with the directionality and light quality of a softbox. To create Snaplux Quick-Open softboxes Elinchrom sourced the same material used in their line of Deep Umbrellas for it’s proven durability and even spread of light. For increased control over direction and light spread All Snaplux's include a 30° Snapgrid. Also included is a clearly labeled carry case for quick identification on set; however, the required speed ring is sold separately. Snaplux Speedrings (Required and Sold Separately) Available for 6 strobe brands including: Elinchrom (full size) Elinchrom Q-Mount Profoto / OCF Bowens S-Mount AlienBee / Balcar Broncolor

    $149.99
    QTY
    Add to cart

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