I was offered to photograph the contestants for the TV show "Samo Nebo Zna" by Fremantle Croatia and RTL television. Photographs then needed retouching to make male contestants look 20 - 30 years older, and female contestants “more attractive”. I used photographs of their faces to create imaginary photos of their wedding and future life together.
The TV show concept was transferred from the "Date With Fate" series. In the show, a woman is looking for a life partner. She initially gets presented with retouched 20 years older portraits of 6 guys, on the basis of which she chooses 4 candidates and, after a whole day hangout with them, whittles them down to 2.
Experts analyse pretty much every detail of the 2 guys’ lives and use the results to decorate their future home with a said woman, describe their wedding and future life. Woman visits each home with each guy and cooks dinner for his mom and dad. She then decides which guy to date. And the lads actually stick around? Bizarre.
As with most TV productions, schedules were short and the work was immensely intensive. I was driving with the filming crew around the country for days, filming interviews with candidates. I quickly photographed them from multiple angles in front of the makeshift black screen, set up with the help of the crew, and while the rest of the crew was filming the interviews, I worked in the van on making them older in Photoshop. It took about 4 hours to get a satisfying result for one picture.
P.S. This was all 2 years before FaceApp showed up. The images had to be done by hand, especially as they had to be printed onto humongous posters in huge resolutions.
When we came back from the field shooting, the rest of the show was taped in the capital city of Zagreb in the TV studios. I had a day to finish retouching guys and gals, and while they were shooting studio scenes and the group hangout, I had a couple of days to create their imaginary future wedding and life scenes that the producers described to me. At my disposal I had a stock subscription and portrait photographs I made during the road trips.
The work itself was intensive and exciting. Although everyone involved did their best, the show lasted only one season, as it was not able to compete in ratings with “Ljubav je na selu”, which is a show about hard working farm men and women who are searching for life partners that can handle the hard life on the farm.
Before I got the call to do this, I was a freelance designer, but had little experience with retouching and compositing photos. Maybe removing a pimple here and there, but the amount of work needed here was way beyond my previous experience. Besides that, I am not a photographer and I also needed to photograph people with a full frame camera so the results could be printed onto a huge canvas.
Nevertheless I accepted and threw myself into the fire, because I was sure that I could handle the job. I expressly learned retouching and compositing in Photoshop. I also learned 2 and 3 point lighting techniques for photographing portraits of the candidates that I could later use while compositing. It was a highly challenging experience that, after the successful completion, gave me a great boost of confidence.