Friday, February 19, 2010

Retouching; My philosophy and a before & after vid

For the latest project I did the aim was for a rather toned down look. The presence was supposed to be with the model and especially the clothes of the model, not the lighting, the makeup, the composition etc. Hence the retouching couldn’t take over. Adding strong colors or contrasts would contradict the entire message. Toning down the retouching doesn’t mean toning down the workload though. I worked very hard in Photoshop with the final selects; to complete the 7 images I invested about 8 hours (not including the time it took to import, render previews and select the final images). The short video below shows three images before and after retouching from that session. It’s not meant to describe the process or function as a tutorial but it visualizes the importance of retouching as a tool for achieving a final look.

The rest of this post is dedicated to explaining some of my philosophy about retouching or photoshoping and hopefully my insights and ideas can help someone in some way. To read it click:

I am saying, without hesitation, that retouching in some form or another is a major part of any successful fashion photograph.

Back in the days the photog would choose film and carefully create strategies for developing it in order to match the feeling or look he was going for. That meant it was even more important to know before the shoot what the final images would look like. Even though the technology of today gives us crazy headroom for alterations after the shoot and even though you can hand of your files to a professional retoucher it’s extremely important to have a clear idea of what you are aiming to achieve.

I’m not pulling the kind of big budget gigs that allows for external retouchers (yet, today most of my projects are personal portfolio-projects) so I have to rely on my own skills in PS. Learning more than the basic contrast and saturation changes, have allowed me to work with photography in a whole other way. When I discuss with a designer or stylist about the look we are going to aim for I’m not limited to only think about the lighting and composition etc. I can let my creativity go all the way to and beyond the retouching. And usually before I take the first picture I always have a clear idea of how to retouch the images.

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