1. Professional retouchers know their craft!
There’s nothing worse than someone coming up to a photographer, holding up their camera phone and declaring they too are a ‘professional photographer’ (snort). We’ve spent countless hours perfecting our creative flair and technical skills, invested hundreds if not thousands of pounds in quality equipment. Not to mention all the time and effort it goes into building a photography business. But as image creators we can sometimes hold our work too close to our chest. Lightroom and other editing plugins offer users a quick and easy way to ‘retouch’ an image. I personally believe that to get the best possible from an image, automated retouching tools just won’t cut it. To an untrained eye, a plugin that smooths out skin in one sweep might look ok, but the finesse and artistry of a professional (human) retoucher is unsurpassed! Let’s not forget one important point we’ve already touched on. Like professional photographers, professional high-end retouchers have also invested heavily in learning and perfecting their craft. It’s easy for a photography businesses to dismiss retouching as part of their workflow. Perhaps it’s cost, or fear of giving someone editing control over their image. But one thing is for sure, an image edited by a GOOD retoucher 9 times out of 10 will surpass the original!
2. Retouchers have an eye for things!
Photographers have an eye for composition and light. But a professional retoucher will have a ‘trained’ eye that can quickly identify areas letting an image down. Sorting out skin flaws, rogue strands of hair, lens distortion and removing annoying distractions are second nature to a retoucher. I speak from experience as a photographer that has also learned to become a retoucher. Looking back at how I used to edit vs. two years on and countless training workshops later I can, with hand on heart, say that an experienced retoucher will see things you wont. At least differently and in a way which will improve and compliment your images.
3. Take a step back from your work!
Have you ever shot an image, got it up on screen and thought ‘Wow… I nailed it!’. Then a day later when you look at it again you start to pick flaws or notice things that could have been done better? We’ve all been there right, I know I have! Having that distance or break from looking at your work is an opportunity to re-evaluate an image as a whole. But that doesn’t really work in a busy studio, or when a client is breathing down your neck to deliver a set of images. The best alternative is a second pair of eyes, not only that, a second pair of professionally trained eyes like I described in point 2!
4. Shoot more, earn more, edit less!
As a photographer, you clearly like creating images, so what would you rather be doing. Finding new clients or have yourself stuck behind a computer screen editing a stack of images? If you’re a super busy portrait or product photographer I bet it wasn’t the second option! As a photographer I personally LOVE retouching, it’s why I offer my own retouching service. But I also know it’s not every photographer’s idea of fun. Is that really nerdy, saying retouching is fun? Outsourcing your retouching will give you back the time you need to focus on other areas of your business. But what about the cost I hear you say! If you’re out there catching more leads and closing more sales then it stands to reason your retoucher has paid for themselves!
5. Quality is everything!
Ok, this is an important one as not everything is created equal. That applies to both photographers and retouchers. If you’re going to work with a retoucher make sure they’re a GOOD retoucher. Someone that has invested in their craft and keeps up with their education. Lots of retouchers work remotely all around the globe. Just find someone that is reputable, knows their stuff and above all delivers what they promise. Oh… and remember, you get what you pay for. Are you a bargain bucket photographer offering a £20 portrait session with all the RAW files put on a USB drive? I hope not! There are plenty of retouchers that offer competitive rates for good quality work, but if their super bargain bucket cheap, ask yourself why.