Retouch Photos – How To

Retouch Photos

Retouch Photos

Retouch Photos - What really happens behind the scenes when retouchers and photographers work together on an image? What skills do you need to develop to become a great retoucher that gets booked by photographers. In this article I’ll try to highlight what I believe are the secret ingredients, for both photographers and Image Editors/Retouchers, to a successful collaboration.

The Retoucher is an Artist

First of all it’s important to acknowledge that a great retoucher and image editor is an essential part of the creative team and an artist in his or her own right. Secondly you need to understand that a skilled and visionary retoucher can completely change an images impact and you should use that to your advantage.  Thirdly, it’s time that retouchers are getting the credit they deserve.

Communication - Speaking the same language.

If you don’t speak the same language you will not get your message across and you ultimately set yourself up for complications and potentially disasters down the road. I’m sure we all have horror stories about how, what you thought were very clear instructions or guidelines got completely distorted or misunderstood, just because you and your counterpart didn’t use the same terms or spoke the same “visual language”

Library of References - Mastering different styles.

As a retoucher, should you develop a distinct style or do you need to take a backseat and let the photographer/Art Director set the tone? Again, I think is entirely up to you and the position in the industry  you’re aiming for. In all honesty this is definitely something that will develop as your career as a retoucher progresses, much like a photographer's style evolves so will the retouchers.

Developing a Style of Your Own - Saying No

Blindly following orders and do as you are told or pushing your own vision? When should you, as a retoucher, say no to what the photographer asks of you  

During a recent retouch workshop with the talented retouch students at Fotoskolan STHLM I asked 4 of the retouchers a few questions.

 

retouch photos

Color Coordination - Retouched by Philip Tolgén

What is the most important thing you'd like to tell a photographer or Art Director before a retouch project?
The most important thing is to discuss the general tone and feel of the image. If the Art director or photographer has references for the look it’s a great way to use for a first discussion. Another thing is to try to decide what to spend time on, I think it’s good to discuss that before the project starts, some people are all about details and others are not. It might not always end up that way but it’s always good to have something to come back to.

Where do you think the role of the retoucher is going in the future?
I think the retoucher will get more and more responsibility. Hopefully get a more designer like role. A lot of photographers have hade to learn moving image the last years and I think that there’s a role for retouchers in moving image aswell, color grading has a lot in common with what we do.

What is the hardest part of a retouch project?
I think that the hardest part is to stay consistent and to remember to take breaks and let your eyes rest for a bit and neutralize your color vision. It’s very easy to jump on a new path when trying different things with an image. This is of course both positive and negative. It’s also very hard to say “I’m done” and not overdo it.

Apart from the obvious technical skills, what is the most valuable skill a retoucher need to develop?
I think the most valuable skill for a retoucher is to be able to listen to the feedback from a photographer or art director but not be afraid to give its own feedback and suggestions for the work, to understand that it’s all about teamwork even when it sometimes doesn’t feel that way.



 

 

 

Rainbow Colors - Retouch by Linnea Herner

What is the most important thing you'd like to tell a photographer or Art Director before a retouch project?
The most important thing to discuss before a photoshoot is to talk about what purposes, use and size the pictures will have. Also so you can get the best out of the photoshoot I mean like angels,
environment and light especially if it´s a montage in the making.

Where do you think the role of the retoucher is going in the future? (In-house, Moving Image, 3-D, Specialised ???)
I probably work in-house for a company or as a freelance.

What is the hardest part of a retouch project?
I think the hardest part is to get the pictures not to look like they been retouched and to know when you done or when to stop. When is it good enough?

Apart from the obvious technical skills, what is the most valuable skill a retoucher need to develop?
I think the most valuable skill is the way you look at images, practice your eye and mind and learn how to look at images, colours and light.

 



 

 

Retouch Photos

Neon Pop - Retouched by Anastasia Mashkovitch 

What is the most important thing you'd like to tell a photographer or Art Director before a retouch project?
If you have the possibility to involve a retoucher early on in the project, go for it! The retoucher would be the expert in hers/his field and can probably pitch in some useful ideas on what's possible or not, what difficulties there may be in post production if you shoot in a certain way, or use a certain light. Or maybe that a small detail that you spending hours on discussing dosen't really matter 'cause it can be changed in post production really easily. So don't waste hours talking about it. And also maybe, what post production ideas are reasonable or not within the budget your project have. Maybe everything you want done in post production will be to pricy, and you just have to make it work before post production. I'm guessing that a client would wanna know that early on. I know I would. 
 
Where do you think the role of the retoucher is going in the future?
That's a very interesting question. I definitely see more moving pictures and 3D for the future. But it's hard to say whether it will be on the retoucher, or if that's a different role? Cause I can't really see the still pictures disappearing, or I really hope that they will not cause I love still photos, so I'm guessing there's still have to be retouchers handling those. But I do think that for being attractive on the market a retoucher should at least have some basic knowledge of video post production. Maybe even 3D? I have no ide about that, since I don't know anything about it. But I'd love to learn. It seems kick ass-awesome! 
 
What is the hardest part of a retouch project?
I think different things can be hard, fully depending on the project. Right now I can often find myself struggle with technical difficulties, especially now while I'm still in school, learning and making all the misstakes (and hopefully learning from them). It can be tricky just to figure out how to make an "easy" correction in the most effective way, or just how to use a specific tool or brush, to get a certain effect. Or how not to overdo skin retouching (haha). But also, the difficulty can lie on a more subjective level. Like how to put your personal taste preferences aside, and make the adjustments that your customers requests, even if you do not feel that it necessarily makes the best picture. 
 
Apart from the obvious technical skills, what is the most valuable skill a retoucher need to develop?
I guess one important skill would be to be freaking awesome in communicating with your clients. That usually eases things a lot. Don't be afraid to ask questions, even if you feel stupid for not getting it right away. I think you better ask once to much, then missing the whole point, waisting time, money and have your client disappointed. And also, speak up about alternative ideas. I mean, as a retoucher you are the one who have most knowledge about everything retouch-oriented in a project. I think a client would be very happy to be "warned" about eventual problems or alternative solutions that they may not have thought of. If they don't like it they will just say no. But maybe they will love it. And they will be happy. And we want happy clients!  



 

 

retouch photos

From color to black & white - Retouch by Åsa Eriksson

What is the most important thing you'd like to tell a photographer or Art Director before a retouch project?
The most important thing to discuss before a photoshoot is to talk about what purposes, use and size the pictures will have. Also so you can get the best out of the photoshoot I mean like angels,
environment and light especially if it´s a montage in the making.

Where do you think the role of the retoucher is going in the future? (In-house, Moving Image, 3-D, Specialised ???)
I probably work in-house for a company or as a freelance.

What is the hardest part of a retouch project?
I think the hardest part is to get the pictures not to look like they been retouched and to know when you done or when to stop. When is it good enough?

Apart from the obvious technical skills, what is the most valuable skill a retoucher need to develop?
I think the most valuable skill is the way you look at images, practice your eye and mind and learn how to look at images, colours and light.

See more of Åsa's work at her Instagram feed.

 



 

Photography fashion | Modefotografie Berlin