Forums > Digital Art and Retouching > What did Playboy do before Photoshop?

Photographer

NothingIsRealButTheGirl

Posts: 35726

Los Angeles, California, US

An auction at Christies shows a bunch of heavily marked up centerfolds

Link NSFW 18+

Dec 14 10 06:46 pm Link

Photographer

Fred Ackerman

Posts: 284

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, US

Airbrush!

Dec 14 10 06:54 pm Link

Photographer

American Glamour

Posts: 38813

Detroit, Michigan, US

Fred Ackerman wrote:
Airbrush!

Exactly, plus dodge and burn and all the various techniques of the day.  There was always a good "color man" involved.  We were pretty capable before Photoshop.  It was just done differently and took a little longer in the lab.

Dec 14 10 06:56 pm Link

Photographer

Alluring Exposures

Posts: 11360

Mesa, Arizona, US

It's called a DARKROOM.

Dec 14 10 07:01 pm Link

Photographer

Alluring Exposures

Posts: 11360

Mesa, Arizona, US

And there was no "undo" when you made a mistake. You had to start from scratch every time!

ei Total Productions wrote:

Exactly, plus dodge and burn and all the various techniques of the day.  There was always a good "color man" involved.  We were pretty capable before Photoshop.  It was just done differently and took a little longer in the lab.

Dec 14 10 07:02 pm Link

Photographer

American Glamour

Posts: 38813

Detroit, Michigan, US

ei Total Productions wrote:
Exactly, plus dodge and burn and all the various techniques of the day.  There was always a good "color man" involved.  We were pretty capable before Photoshop.  It was just done differently and took a little longer in the lab.

Carlos Arturo Velarde wrote:
And there was no "undo" when you made a mistake. You had to start from scratch every time!

Alas, don't I know!

Dec 14 10 08:47 pm Link

Photographer

NothingIsRealButTheGirl

Posts: 35726

Los Angeles, California, US

:eyeroll:

Dec 14 10 08:49 pm Link

Photographer

Scott Johnson Studios

Posts: 3353

Wausau, Wisconsin, US

IMO, when they stopped shooting women with clear skin.. the editing became more over the top. But then it's not about the editing for most that are looking at it.. it's more about the woman and the size of her breasts.

Dec 16 10 05:15 am Link

Photographer

Phototaker1

Posts: 37

Deerfield Beach, Florida, US

Crayola

Dec 16 10 05:27 am Link

Photographer

Leonard Gee Photography

Posts: 17372

Sacramento, California, US

Some airbrush, if large area correction was needed; but mostly etch & dye work. You can't dodge & burn in the darkroom with the kind of detail you need. There was always the last resort - dot etching. Lots of work for print was done on the separations. It had more control since you had four color layers.

A fine brush, good eyes and talent were the indispensable tools.

Dec 16 10 09:37 am Link

Photographer

Ken Marcus Studios

Posts: 8844

Los Angeles, California, US

During the 11 years (1974 - 1985) that I shot centerfolds, calendars, pictorials and editorials for Playboy, there was a policy against retouching anything except the cover (to make sure text would contrast properly and be easily readable)

Our policy during those days was:  Pre-touch, rather than Re-touch


KM

Dec 16 10 09:45 am Link

Photographer

BodyartBabes

Posts: 2005

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US

Ken Marcus Studios wrote:
During the 11 years (1974 - 1985) that I shot centerfolds, calendars, pictorials and editorials for Playboy, there was a policy against retouching anything except the cover (to make sure text would contrast properly and be easily readable)

Our policy during those days was:  Pre-touch, rather than Re-touch


KM

Retouching was expensive, and people were not willing to accept the altered realty this new generation is.  People were supposed to look like their pictures, and vice versa.  And, retouching was supposed to be INVISIBLE, not glaring.

Different world, and why some models *are* in demand, and others aren't.  Just like the photographers who can do it in camera, eg: pre-touch.  I like that.

Scott

Dec 16 10 09:54 am Link

Photographer

Chuckarelei

Posts: 10795

Seattle, Washington, US

Scitex.

Dec 16 10 10:49 am Link

Photographer

Ken Marcus Studios

Posts: 8844

Los Angeles, California, US

Chuckarelei wrote:
Scitex.

Scitex didn't come into play until the 1980's, and even then it was used mostly for the covers and not for the Playmate layouts.

Dec 16 10 11:00 am Link

Photographer

Phillip Ritchie

Posts: 1021

Costa Mesa, California, US

I just look at a 1970 Playboy  the paper it is printed on does not show much detail , it has a soft look ,so I think that helped

phillip

Dec 16 10 11:12 am Link

Photographer

NothingIsRealButTheGirl

Posts: 35726

Los Angeles, California, US

Carlos Arturo Velarde wrote:
It's called a DARKROOM.

I used to work with this guy a lot in the 80s. He was one of the pioneers of pre-digital special effects photography.

Dec 16 10 11:20 am Link

Photographer

WIP

Posts: 15855

Cheltenham, England, United Kingdom

What did Playboy do before Photoshop?

They used professional photographers and professional models.

Dec 16 10 11:40 am Link

Photographer

Ken Marcus Studios

Posts: 8844

Los Angeles, California, US

c_h_r_i_s wrote:
What did Playboy do before Photoshop?

They used professional photographers and professional models.

Not quite correct . . . .

The photographers were specialists (only a handful in the world qualified to shoot centerfolds).

The models were all (for the most part) amateurs. The vast majority of the women that we shot for Playboy had never modeled before.

The hardest part of our job was to make inexperienced models look like professionals.

Dec 16 10 11:53 am Link

Photographer

WIP

Posts: 15855

Cheltenham, England, United Kingdom

They took their time on these shoot productions and worked on every detail.

Dec 16 10 12:24 pm Link

Photographer

Left Coast Sunshine

Posts: 4

Boston, Massachusetts, US

First, get absolutely as much as possible right in-camera.
Then burn&dodge, airbrush, spotting brush, razor blade, all the fun stuff.

Dec 23 10 12:55 pm Link

Photographer

Ken Marcus Studios

Posts: 8844

Los Angeles, California, US

Seagull Graphics wrote:
First, get absolutely as much as possible right in-camera.
Then burn&dodge, airbrush, spotting brush, razor blade, all the fun stuff.

WRONG !!

There was NO retouching allowed back in those days.

Only the cover was retouched and on rare occasion, a special layout of a celebrity.

Playmate layouts and features were not retouched.

KM

Dec 23 10 01:02 pm Link

Photographer

NothingIsRealButTheGirl

Posts: 35726

Los Angeles, California, US

Ken Marcus Studios wrote:
WRONG !!

There was NO retouching allowed back in those days.

Only the cover was retouched and on rare occasion, a special layout of a celebrity.

Playmate layouts and features were not retouched.

KM

So no retouching was worth the trouble and expense unless it was an image for which retouching was worth the trouble and expense.

If it was just a photo of the Girl Next Door she was allowed to look more like the girl next door.

If it was Herb Ritts in 1987 shooting Brigitte Neilsen then out came the red wax pencil.

http://www.christies.com/LotFinder/lot_ … 64565931b1

Dec 23 10 01:35 pm Link

Photographer

ArtisticVisions

Posts: 1012

Nashville, Tennessee, US

vaseline on the lens to make it softer????

Dec 23 10 01:37 pm Link

Photographer

HungryEye

Posts: 2281

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

ArtisticVisions wrote:
vaseline on the lens to make it softer????

That was Bob Guccione's trademark approach at Penthouse.

Dec 23 10 01:42 pm Link

Photographer

Sophistocles

Posts: 21320

Seattle, Washington, US

HungryEye wrote:

That was Bob Guccione's trademark approach at Penthouse.

You mean Earl Miller, right?

Dec 23 10 01:44 pm Link

Photographer

NothingIsRealButTheGirl

Posts: 35726

Los Angeles, California, US

Then as soon as Photoshop made retouching easier they went nuts with it.

Dec 23 10 01:44 pm Link

Photographer

glamourglenn

Posts: 863

Lancaster, Pennsylvania, US

i love this.

folks arguing with the ONE guy on MM who was actually there.

everyone else in the thread, did you work for Playboy?

seeing no other hands up except for Ken, I'll go with him for providing the correct answer.

Dec 23 10 01:46 pm Link

Photographer

NothingIsRealButTheGirl

Posts: 35726

Los Angeles, California, US

eroticzone wrote:
i love this.

folks arguing with the ONE guy on MM who was actually there.

everyone else in the thread, did you work for Playboy?

seeing no other hands up except for Ken, I'll go with him for providing the correct answer.

Ken said there was retouching all the time. He just said it in a roundabout way.

He said the covers were retouched, as well as celebrity layouts.

Every issue had a cover, didn't it?

Dec 23 10 01:48 pm Link

Photographer

glamourglenn

Posts: 863

Lancaster, Pennsylvania, US

NothingIsRealButTheGirl wrote:

Ken said there was retouching all the time. He just said it in a roundabout way.

He said the covers were retouched, as well as celebrity layouts.

Every issue had a cover, didn't it?

then that is the correct answer.

Dec 23 10 01:49 pm Link

Photographer

Sungoddess Studios

Posts: 5188

Keyport, New Jersey, US

I used to be an airbrush expert. I spent 2 years learning the techniques.(not including the classes I took and high school internship under John Rand.)

Dec 23 10 01:53 pm Link

Photographer

Sungoddess Studios

Posts: 5188

Keyport, New Jersey, US

Ken Marcus Studios wrote:

WRONG !!

There was NO retouching allowed back in those days.

Only the cover was retouched and on rare occasion, a special layout of a celebrity.

Playmate layouts and features were not retouched.

KM

for once Ken, you were misled. Even back in the 40's plate masters had their way with our photos. Look even at the first few issues of playboy. yes all the plates were tampered with. as the auction of proof pages with the notes for the retoutchers confirms.

Dec 23 10 01:59 pm Link

Photographer

Ken Marcus Studios

Posts: 8844

Los Angeles, California, US

NothingIsRealButTheGirl wrote:

So no retouching was worth the trouble and expense unless it was an image for which retouching was worth the trouble and expense.

If it was just a photo of the Girl Next Door she was allowed to look more like the girl next door.

If it was Herb Ritts in 1987 shooting Brigitte Neilsen then out came the red wax pencil.

http://www.christies.com/LotFinder/lot_ … 64565931b1

Herb Ritts was not a Playboy photographer. We published the finished work that he delivered. Playboy was not involved in the production of his shoots or his prints.

Color transparencies shot of Playboy models expressly for the magazine were not subjected to retouching.

We were working under the concept of:  Reshoot rather than Retouch

KM

Dec 23 10 02:09 pm Link

Photographer

Ken Marcus Studios

Posts: 8844

Los Angeles, California, US

Sungoddess Studios wrote:
for once Ken, you were misled. Even back in the 40's plate masters had their way with our photos. Look even at the first few issues of playboy. yes all the plates were tampered with. as the auction of proof pages with the notes for the retoutchers confirms.

The images were all subjected to the printers renditions of what they thought our photographs should look like. Most of this was done without any imput from the magazine at all. Dot-etching was beyond our control.

If I interpret this thread correctly, it was about the kind of retouching that came from airbrushing and the other techniques that were available back then.

I remember getting into a shouting match with the manager of the printing company that published Playboy when they took a beautiful, subtle image that was a white-on-white set with a pale model, and added color to it thinking that the photographer (me) made a mistake, and they were 'correcting' it.

This was unusual.

The general rule was that everything had to be on the original transparency or we'd go back and reshoot it.

BTW . . . All of the examples shown in the OP are recent centerfolds (recent meaning since the invention of digital retouching and Playboy's lack of money). Things are different these days from where they were back when Playboy had money and there were no good options for retouching.

KM

Dec 23 10 02:15 pm Link

Model

Mz Nova

Posts: 2607

Portland, Oregon, US

Ken Marcus Studios wrote:

Herb Ritts was not a Playboy photographer. We published the finished work that he delivered. Playboy was not involved in the production of his shoots or his prints.

Color transparencies shot of Playboy models expressly for the magazine were not subjected to retouching.

We were working under the concept of:  Reshoot rather than Retouch

KM

I don't Ken, I think they might be right on this. They were there. You weren't  wink

Dec 23 10 02:15 pm Link

Photographer

NothingIsRealButTheGirl

Posts: 35726

Los Angeles, California, US

Ken Marcus Studios wrote:
We were working under the concept of:  Reshoot rather than Retouch

KM

The marked up editors' notes are on auction at Christies. I only chose Herb Ritts because his was marked up by an editor and it was from 1987, which is pre-photoshop and back when Scitex / Hell-style high end digital was much more expensive, but used.

How do you account for the explosion of retouching on every Playboy centerfold from the invention of Photoshop, on?

They suddenly stopped using Playboy-tradition-savvy photgraphers? Or it got cheap enough to do?

Dec 23 10 02:18 pm Link

Photographer

SANCTUAIRE

Posts: 8061

Tampa, Florida, US

Fred Ackerman wrote:
Airbrush!

Ahh yes this is the answer.

Dec 23 10 02:19 pm Link

Photographer

NothingIsRealButTheGirl

Posts: 35726

Los Angeles, California, US

Mz Nova wrote:
I don't Ken, I think they might be right on this. They were there. You weren't  wink

When making a period film it used to be cheaper to have a crew scour the neighborhood and remove all the TV antennas and satellite dishes from the country manor rooftops.

I remember a crew holding up an entire shoot for a half hour while they picked some stray litter out of a field.

Guess how that sort of thing gets handled now?

On a case by case basis by whichever way is cheaper.

Dec 23 10 02:22 pm Link

Photographer

Ken Marcus Studios

Posts: 8844

Los Angeles, California, US

NothingIsRealButTheGirl wrote:

The marked up editors' notes are on auction at Christies. I only chose Herb Ritts because his was marked up by an editor and it was from 1987, which is pre-photoshop and back when Scitex / Hell-style high end digital was much more expensive, but used.

How do you account for the explosion of retouching on every Playboy centerfold from the invention of Photoshop, on?

They suddenly stopped using Playboy-tradition-savvy photgraphers?

As a result of new technology, and dramatically reduced budgets, centerfold layouts are shot in a matter of days instead of weeks.

The years I am referring to are pre-Scitex

Once Playboy lost it's casino in London, the whole organization was reduced to a fraction of what it once was. Budgets were slashed and quality was forsaken.

When I was shooting for them, we had 'unlimited budgets' to produce pictorials and centerfolds.

KM

Dec 23 10 02:22 pm Link

Photographer

NothingIsRealButTheGirl

Posts: 35726

Los Angeles, California, US

Ken Marcus Studios wrote:
When I was shooting for them, we had 'unlimited budgets' to produce pictorials and centerfolds.

KM

And every shoot important enough for an 'unlimited budget' was retouched, as you told us earlier in this thread.

Dec 23 10 02:24 pm Link

Photographer

Northern Sights

Posts: 186

Soldotna, Alaska, US

It was lighting and technique mostly. It is so easy now with Photoshop that we all get a little rapid in our shoots but in the day we used lighting to achieve the effect we wanted. Not as much was done in the darkroom as people with digital cameras like to think.

Dec 23 10 02:25 pm Link