How Photographer Alexis Cuarezma Shot These Artistic Photos Without Using Photoshop

Whenever we see an amazing image, the first thing that pops into our heads is "that's an amazing shot! It must be Photoshopped!" In this behind the scenes breakdown, see how Alexis Cuarezma created these dramatic colorful portraits using effects that were all done in camera. 

In this jam-packed video from Alexis Cuarezma, he walks you step by step behind multiple setups and shows you how he achieves every look: from the camera settings to the lighting modifiers and filters he uses. His no secrets approach to explaining the process really teaches you the concept and makes it easy to go out and try it for yourself. 

In the video, he goes through five different locations and styles and uses interesting techniques for each one to achieve the client's vision. The one that stood out to me the most was where he juxtaposed warm and cold colors to make for a more unique image. He explains that if you set your camera's white balance to 2700 K and put a CTO warming gel on your key light, the whole scene takes on a cooler tone, but the subject's skin tone remains natural. See example below from the video. 

This technique of using gels is so simple yet so effective. The best part is that it can be applied to pretty much any genre of photography. 

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Richard Tack's picture

To switch up my usual complaint, I now discover from William Howell's post that these videos are designed specifically for "young hip-hop happenen utes." So unless shot in that "common hip-hop vernacular," a viewer might comment, "Oh, like Duuude, that video sucked! He didn't even use rapper hands and arms!"

David Love's picture

And if you change your mind later? Anything that drastic I would want to be in control of.

Alexis Cuarezma's picture

Hi David, that's a personal choice. I personally don't want a lot of options in post and prefer to get everything right in camera. I'm 100% in control when making the image, and just deceive on what I want to do before the shoot and plan for it. It's also works for me because my clients love seeing how it's done and the final look.

Just sharing what I do. I'm not saying it's the best way or what people should do. Do what works best for you


Spy Black's picture

Actually, as long as you have your raws, you can change your mind all you want in post. Even something that looks so "drastic" can be turned into anything else. Obviously you knew where you wanted to be, and yo got there quite well. Great work brother, keep it up.

Jon Dize's picture

I get so sick and tired of the YADDAH! YADDAH! Boring mantra of "NO PHOTOSHOP!" "DID IT ALL IN CAMERA!" and I have been sick of hearing it for DECADES, which is why I wrote this prose roughly a decade ago.

Deleted Account's picture

While the author of the article started out with that (and I agree with you), I don't think Alexis exhibited that attitude at all. In fact, he espoused the idea of creating unrealistic images, which is the main objection of people to photoshop.

Alexis Cuarezma's picture

Jon Dize Do what works best for you. I'm not trying at all to sell anything or force anyone to do anything they don't want. Just sharing my process. I certainly use photoshop when needed. Cheers

Jon Dize's picture

My response is more of a GENERAL observation and as somebody who shot full time professionally for 20 years, before they stuck the "P" on Photoshop, I understand what analog creativity is all about, but as I stated in my previous comment, in the period of time between 1990 and today, the number of times I hear references to shooting in camera vs Photoshop, they virtually always imply there is some higher order in doing so. CLIENTS DON'T CARE HOW YOU GOT THERE... THEY ONLY CARE ABOUT THE FINAL IMAGE, unless of course laws were broken. Only other photographers care how the image was produced. As my 10 year-old prose surmised, every image is MANIPULATED in pre-production, pre-capture and post-production... what tools were used is MOOT. But easily misunderstood is the fact that I was not attacking your video or information directly, merely making the GENERALIZED statement that, whenever I start to read the words, CREATED IN CAMERA... a sharp pain stabs me in the eye, not unlike a shrimp fork with sharp tines.

Jon Dize's picture

Oh, by the way... I REALLY ENJOYED YOUR IMAGES! I GREATLY APPRECIATE AND RESPECT YOUR WORK. As I said above, what matters to myself and to paying clients, is the final product, not how you got there. GOOD STUFF!

Chris Silvis's picture

Well, I found it interesting. Its different and colorful. As someone who's new to the game, and has little artistic capabilities, Im trying to find my own thumbprint in photography and any little bit helps. Im ok with different.

Alexis Cuarezma's picture

Chris Silvis , glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Keep shooting like crazy and trying a lot of things and going too far... and you'll find what you love doing.

John Ohle's picture

Another great video! After watching this one I went and looked at some of the other videos in his series. Really inspiring!

Alexis Cuarezma's picture

John Ohle thanks so much! Glad you liked it. All the best

Nick B's picture

hum "Artistic Photos" ? These are fitness shoots let's not oversell this.

Deleted Account's picture

Artistic style, not necessarily artistic subject.

Joel Manes's picture

Nicely done and thanks for sharing your tips. I like your work.

Jeremiah Palmerston's picture

Thank you for sharing your skillful techniques. Did you mention which filters you used for the red sky? Sorry if I missed it, could you please share? I have not used colored filters before, and this is a very interesting effect you can produce with the dull sky.

Alexis Cuarezma's picture

Hi Jeremiah Palmerston , check out the link in the video description for some options. I recommend renting some first to test as they can get pricey to test out.