Portrait photography

Capture One offers unique and powerful benefits for portrait photography

The landscape of the portrait photographer has certainly been changing over the past decade, a period in which we have seen photos of people go from unreal alabaster-like skin to something much more real, color grading becomes important and image resolution increases, even though image consumption has largely shifted to smaller screens.

Then, of course, there is the large volume of images demanded by today’s customers – driven by consumer habits – and the need to produce for a myriad of media platforms with different size parameters, color and crop factor, all arguing for greater efficiency in its workflow. Capture One is able to solve all of this in a unique way, and here’s how.

Quick preface

The workflow for everyone will always be at least slightly different, and even for one person it can and often depend on the nature of a shot, so here we’ll cover the benefits whether you’re a studio photographer or a lifestyle shooter, or whatever in between.

* If you don’t already have Capture One, now is a great time to download a free 30-day trial of Capture One Pro (no obligation).

Complexion Tool

Matching skin tones all over the body without affecting texture is a hallmark of good portrait editing and a necessary skill for a portrait photographer. In fact, being able to correct skin tone is essential for professional images, whether you’re shooting portraits, portraits, weddings, swimsuits, dancers or, frankly, anything else, and l Capture One’s dedicated skin tone tool makes the job easier.

The goal is to harmonize the whole skin so that it is more even, but not exactly the same, while maintaining the texture of the skin and not making the image flat. The Skin Tone tool lets you hide the skin using the brush tools and masking refinements and select the tone you want, then you can drag simple sliders until you hit the top. ‘harmony.

With Capture One’s layer functionality, opacity options for layers and brushes, and the tool’s easy sliders, there might not be an easier way to correct and even out tones. flesh than with this tool. Click here for a more detailed explanation of its use.

Raw processing

The raw file handling rabbit hole can go to the center of the Earth, so we’ll stick to the upper mantle here, but there are a few things about raw file handling that some of you may not know. be not that you might find useful.

First of all, a raw file is simply an unmodified packet of data from the sensor, and your choice of raw processor should interpret this list of data ingredients to show you the image. And by the time you see the image, the software has not only interpreted the data, but applied some modifications to it. So the raw file you are viewing in your viewer is not as “raw” as it could be. For example, the raw files are actually much darker than what you see and the colors look different, but your software has applied some type of brightness / exposure compensation by means of something like a gamma curve as well as a ICC profile to manage the color. Here is a quick preview of a raw file when importing and the same with the “Linear Response” curve applied to show you a more accurate preview of the actual raw file:

All of this happens before you touch a tuning tool, and all raw processors do, but that’s how it makes a difference. Capture One engineers test thousands of images per camera model to determine the best profile for your camera model, and compared to Lightroom, you will notice that there seems to be more shades of the same color, which results in more flexible color gradients and a more natural look. For the portrait, this is important, because you will have more natural colors, better gradients, more beautiful skin, etc. Here’s a preview of the same open file with default settings in Capture One and Lightroom:

(Lightroom on the right, Capture One on the left)

Work with sessions

In Capture One, users have the option of organizing their work with catalogs, sessions, or a hybrid of the two. Catalogs are more monolithic in nature, suitable for keeping large collections of images from many shoots or even all of your images with a centralized database. Sessions are smaller and typically used to manage images from a single shot, event, or maybe date or location.

When you create a session, say “Rebecca’s Headshots 2020”, a simple folder structure is created for you. There is the parent Session folder, which would be named after your shot, and inside you will find Capture (which stores all your image files), Go out (images you exported), Selected, Waste, and the actual session database file, which will have the session name with the file extension “.cosessiondb. “You can edit them as you like, but at least there is a consistent structure for all sessions, and organizing them that way allows you to neatly manage shoots, clients, and move around with those files a lot. more easily than with catalogs.

For portrait photographers who typically shoot many different clients and don’t need to see or access other images from other shots, this is a great way to keep everything really organized.

Fast connected capture

Not everyone shoots tethered, and not everyone shoots tethered all the time, but for those working in the studio or on location for commercial work, it is a necessity, and Capture One is there. gold standard for connected capture.

In Capture One’s captive shooting, you can import images while shooting, set a base image to look like you want, and apply the same speed settings to subsequent shots, control camera settings from Capture One Pro, use autofocus, and of course, check out live view to get your framing and composition and everything is perfect.

Then there is the overlay feature, which inserts an overlay graphic file onto the stream or an image while shooting. This image can be a logo, text or design for a magazine cover, or a number of other things, and just allows for the right composition.

Anyone coming from other processing software will be immediately impressed with how well tethering with C1 works. It’s quick, easy to set up, and offers a level of control you won’t find elsewhere.

Bonus: you can download the Capture Pilot iOS app, which can stream the images live to a mobile device, perfect for letting clients or employees see a larger image without getting in your way. It’s also helpful to be facing the subject, so they can see what’s going on in real time and adjust accordingly.


Layers in Capture One are extremely powerful and totally change the game in terms of flexibility. From high-quality healing and cloning to fine masking, layer stacking, and layer opacity control, Capture One offers a wide range of local adjustments, powerful layers, and layer masking tools. that allow you to maximize the flexibility of your raw files. This means you can get the most out of every shot and do more with a raw processor than ever before, all while saving time.

Each Capture One file can have one layer on a layer of local and global adjustments and the ability to create local adjustment masks from the color editor selections. This feature allows users to easily and quickly create more complicated masks and is a great help when editing anything and everything from landscapes to skin tone.

In contrast, Lightroom’s tuning layer capabilities are almost nonexistent, and they’re limited to a single layer for all settings. While Capture One’s layers aren’t as robust as Photoshop’s, the power that Capture One delivers through layers covers the lion’s share of the needs of the vast majority of photographers. For portrait work, having healing and cloning layers, layers with full opacity control, local adjustments with additional opacity control, and a wide range of simple masking tools are huge. advantages.


The benefits of Capture One for portrait photography are much more nuanced than those that can be demonstrated here, but if you want to get started and learn straight away, there are already tons of tutorials on the Capture One YouTube channel, and you can download Capture One here with a 30 day free trial.

If you’re looking for a quick and efficient way to learn Capture One, check out The Complete Capture One Editing Guide, a five-hour video tutorial taught by Quentin Decaillet of Fstoppers.

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