Photographer and retouch guru Steve Caplin reveals how to capture shots that are easy to cutout and keep

Further equals sharper

Focus can be a major issue, especially if the model is, say, pointing at the camera. Experiment with reducing the aperture as the lighting will allow, to get the largest possible depth of field. To guarantee everything is in focus, move the camera back from the model and zoom right in. The greater the zoom, the more features will be crisply focused.

Plain and simple does it

When doing model shots, hair is the most crucial area as it is the hardest to cut out (the body can be cut out easily enough with Quick Mask mode or the Pen tool). So use a plain background if possible – placing a large sheet of paper behind the model’s head can make all the difference. Choose a dark background for fair hair, a light background for dark hair.

Keep hair back

If your work requires you to create satirical images of celebrities and politicians, you will probably want to graft their heads onto the bodies of models. It’s easy enough to photograph colleagues or family in suitable poses, but if they have long hair, make sure it’s all pulled back behind the body (above). Hair over shoulders can be extremely difficult to remove later, so it’s best to snap photos that don’t introduce the problem.

Snap yourself

When deadlines are pressing, you may have to photograph yourself to get the right pose. This works best if you have a camera with a flip-out screen that can face forwards (the Canon PowerShot G12, for example). Use the self-timer or get hold of a remote shutter device so that you can trigger the shutter when you’re perfectly framed.

Steve Caplin is the author of many books including How to Cheat in Photoshop CS5 howtocheatinphotoshop.com