For 15 years, photographer Paul Bartell has been working with Artisan Colour as a Quality Control Technician, Project Manager and Customer Service Representative. Color retouching on high-end catalogs is his specialty. More recently, attention has been paid to his personal photography and Photoshop guru skills, bringing him creative and competitive success.
Photography and Other Professional Pursuits
Describing his favorite subjects, Paul says, “Landscape, fine art, kind of weird stuff. You know, things to make something simple look interesting.” His work is equal parts photography and digital artistry across professional and personal pursuits.
“I tried to find things that are just unique and look at things in a different point of view than just a snapshot, trying to make things a little more creative.” -Paul Bartell
His career journey started in college when he satisfied a course requirement with a black and white photography class. Afterwards he was employed in magazine production.
Alongside his wife, he started a small portrait company, often photographing weddings. As their talents crystallized, she stayed behind the camera and he behind the screen, working as a digital technician with retouching and processing. Photography is a hobby they still enjoy together, often snapping flower images.
But learning never stops. Bartell is a longtime member of KelbyOne, an online subscription which allows members access to tutorials for both photography and Photoshop. Continuing professional development has been key.
Gurus, in the most general sense, are teachers. Paul was recognized in 2019 by KelbyOne for his digital work, winning the Photoshop World Conference Photoshop Guru Award. This cemented his skills in the field, skills he would go on to teach others. He has been a finalist for this award several times, as well.
Paul often posts before and after images to social media, showing his followers the path a photo takes from raw image to edited art. He is happy to assist others learning Photoshop, particularly those who may feel overwhelmed by the vast amount of instruction available online. “It’s kind of fun to… walk somebody through something and all of a sudden you go, aha, now I know,” he says.
Adding to his guru credentials is a win that took him by surprise. Paul was awarded Photographer of the Year in 2019 from the Arizona Professional Photographers Association. His first submission to their competition in 2018 earned the highest score for an initial entry. The following year, he hoped to just get in the top 10 but rather won the Photographer of the Year.
Adding His Stamp
With the realer-than-real life aspects of digital photography so prevalent today, Paul agrees that vision in photography is constantly adjusting. More so, it is something that photographers can manipulate into being, given access to digital tools like Photoshop.
Significantly, the question of vision seems complicated in the digital world where so many things can be created in post-production. Paul believes some skills cannot be manufactured but must be learned, such as lighting, composition and getting the best from a subject.
The vision, however, is not always the photographer’s. Working at Artisan Colour, on catalogs, and as a processor, Paul found that digital work is often being paid to achieve someone else’s vision. This makes his own creative work even more satisfying, as he spends time making something that is his own.
“I think capturing the images, just the first part of it, the how you take that image after, once it’s been captured and digitized and manipulated, add my stamp to it, my vision of what it could look like… That’s really the fun part of it. I probably spend as much time working in image an Photoshop as I do actually going out and capturing. When I sit down with an image of mine, nobody to please but myself.” -Paul Bartell
For customers, online followers, and students alike, Paul wants to enable their own sense of vision. For many, this will mean following in his footsteps in Photoshop. Online resources abound, including professionals who can answer questions and tutorial courses. Finding a knowledgeable expert like Paul to teach in person can be even more effective. Photography is equal parts artistry and skill, and both must be constantly nurtured.
There is no doubt through his work and teaching that Paul Bartell inspires a passion for art, vision and technical skill. All this and more is truly seen in his personal photography and his expert retouching work at Artisan Colour.
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