I’ve been photographing live performances for inclusion to the Sound Bites Grill Hall of Fame for about seven years. The performances are photographed live and they are processed into art pieces requiring signatures of the artists. It would be an almost impossible task to have the artist actually sign the finished pieces as they are scattered far and wide around Arizona and the rest of the country.

I utilize a technique that has been my process for so long I wasn’t thinking that others might not know how. A visiting fellow photographer, who was amazed that all of the work had the artists’ autographs, brought it to my attention. Here’s how it works.

What I do (and where I learned the basic idea)

While I have the artist on site the night of image capture I have them place their autograph and ‘message to the house’ on a white piece of paper. We utilize a black fine point Sharpie much like an artist would use in signing autographs. This ensures a line that is thick enough to see well, but also pointy enough for a true signature.


The Photoshop process

I have to share that this idea was germinated because of a lesson received from Kevin Ames approximately 15 years ago. Kevin’s lesson involved adding flame to candles and fireplaces that did not have them in the original capture. Basically, the proper type flame was photographed on a black background. A properly sized flame was added to the image on a layer. The layer was then converted to the Screen Blend Mode. And, viola! As a result the black background disappears leaving the flame lit subject behind.

Signature placement is similar with my process. The scanned paper with autograph is inverted leaving a black page with white text. Autographs are extracted and moved to the proper position on the art piece and then the Layer Mode is changed to Screen and, you guessed it, the signature is all that is left behind.

Finished work

Completed art hanging proudly in the Hall of Fame at Sound Bites Grill in Sedona, AZ

Above see an example of the finished piece with signatures in place. The images themselves are comprised of individual performer photos assembled into the final composition which is blended with more Layers with multiple textures, Photoshop Blend Modes and Adjustment Layers.

But, that is a lesson for another day.

Yours in Creative Photography, Bob