Case Study // Grilling Retouching

We like to say that we put a designer’s eye behind the lens, and we work really hard to shoot our photography as conventionally as possible. That means most of our photos come right off the camera with very little or only minor retouching required. But there are times when we need to get creative…


We were working on a campaign for Tyson Foods to run during grilling season, and one of our ideas called for a top-down photo of a family grilling in the back yard. A suitable location was found, models were lined up, and test shots went smoothly. Sounds easy enough.


Unfortunately, it was March. A pretty harsh winter was still clinging to Northwest Arkansas, and our “summer grilling” photo had to be shot on a gloomy, rainy morning with temperatures in the 50s. The grass, while healthy and freshly sod, was still brown and dormant.


We used the overcast sky to our advantage, allowing us to use strobes to control the lighting better. This gave us a nice, evenly lit image to start with. We also shot the grill separately so we could capture the nice warm glow on the charcoal without overcooking the chicken on the set. Then the Photoshop fun began.

It started with the grass and turning it to a healthy, but still believable green. The fence and extension cord were removed. We punched up the lighting to give it a brighter, warmer feel. Shadows were accentuated and tree shadows were added to help frame the subject. Lastly, the charcoals under the grill were replaced.


The program continued without a hitch, all deadlines were met, and the photo became a workhorse for the Grillin’ Wings campaign at Sam’s Club.