Whoever said that retouching wasn’t a travelling profession, hasn’t spent a small fortune on a Tenba Air Case, Mac Mini and Wacom tablet, and headed for Heathrow.
I had the good fortune (or foolishness) of packing up shop and travelling around the Mediterranean for the Summer. Aside from some woeful internet connections, business went ahead as usual and I had the pleasure of working on some fantastic photo shoots. From Mulberry CEO Emma Hill, to Nordic rocker Karin Park and semi-naked rowers for their 2013 fundraising calendar; below are some of the images retouched by FauxPink in the last 3 months.
Viktoria Modesta for Grazia - photographed by Jon Enoch
Mulberry AW 2012 - photographed by Venetia Dearden
Warwick University 2013 fundraising calendar - photographed by Angus Malcolm
Beauty - Photographed by Jenni Hare
And a peak at my temporary office in Malta
For every dodge, there is a burn.
It’s easy to pick out the areas on a face that need to be dodged in Photoshop, but people often underestimate the importance of the burn.
Every bump and crevice has a shadow and a highlight, you need to address both with your retouching.
Daniel Kennedy Photography
People who don’t pay for your time, don’t respect your time.
Nothing is achieved in one move.
Zoom in close, and use a low opacity brush to slowly create the desired effect.
As a famous karate master once said, patience Grasshopper.
Best of the best
One piece of advice I was given as a young photographer entering photographic competitions was ‘you are always judged on your worst image’. It is so true. If there is an image in your portfolio that you think is weaker than the others, take it out. You are better off having a small folio of high-quality work than a large folio of average work.
If you are judged on your worst image, make your worst image a bloody good one.
Don’t repeat yourself
When making your image selection, don’t include more than 1 image of an outfit or beauty look. If you need more than 1 image to show an outfit, then it hasn’t been photographed properly. For young photographers this is also a reminder to shoot many outfits when doing test shoots. A magazine’s pages are a valuable commodity and must be filled with different garments for the reader to look at, consider your portfolio to be the same.
For my printed folio I have a maximum of 2 images per shoot. On my website there is room for 4.
Give credit where credit is due
Many people go into creating an amazing image, and where possible, these people should be given credit.
This is harder to do for your print portfolio without compromising image layout. Therefore, Retouchers should be sure to know by heart the names of all Photographers who’s work is in their book.
It is easier to have captions in your online portfolio (although I am amazed how many Photographers and Retouchers don’t). Try to credit all the key people - Photographer, Art Director, Stylist, Hair and Make-up Artists.
Photographers, don’t be afraid to credit your retoucher. There ain’t no shame in using a retoucher. Think of the current fashion photographer who’s work you admire the most, I can guarantee you that they use a retoucher.
Retouching; Before & After?
Whether or not a Retoucher should use before and after images in their portfolio can be a controversial subject.
Ultimately, if an image looks amazing, the person viewing your portfolio should assume that you , as the Retoucher, did an amazing job. Sometimes the only way that you can show them exactly how amazing you are, is for them to see the un-retouched version. I have never seen before & afters work effectively in a print context and maintain that your print book should look like a big glossy, image only magazine. If you have an ipad or take a laptop to client meetings, then this is a great way for you to show potential clients your before and after work. After all the oohs and ahhs from people seeing the before & afters is the reason we become addicted to our job ;)
I personally have some before & afters on my site. I try not to advertise this too much (except for now, obviously). It is a very personal thing and my advice is use discretion. Have your web developer create an effect that works for you. The last thing that you want is for the ‘before’ to show up before the ‘after’; don’t assume people will go to the effort of finding the retouched version.
Understand that it can be a sensitive subject and don’t upset people (it’s not worth it).
Tear Sheets / magazine pdf’s
It’s always good to show your work in context. Particularly if it was used on the cover of a magazine.
Picture Editors and Art Directors are generally very accommodating when it comes to sending pdf’s (sometimes referred to as tear sheets) of the magazine pages.
If the format of your online portfolio doesn’t allow you to give captions, then having the tearsheets in can be a good way to add context to an image and give credit to the others involved.
Keep your book relevant
Make your book the best representation of you that it can be. If you are going to see a potential client in the beauty industry, they don’t want to see the images you retouched for a car magazine. Chop and change your images to suit the person you are showing your book too. Keep it current make it something to be proud of.
Ironically, trying to hide a subjects flaws in-camera - with lighting, positioning etc - can make it much harder for the Retoucher to correct them in post.
I’ve just finished retouching a series of images of a beautiful, scantily clad, celebrity/model, who ‘hid’ her thighs by covering them with her hands in most shots. The images were always going to have a significant level of retouching, so there is no added retouch expense by her thighs being a little bigger. However, as I’ve mentioned previously, hands are a nightmare to reshape properly. What could have been a simple nip-tuck to the thighs to keep her secret safe, ended up being near impossible to fix, due to the distortion of her fingers when I tried to bring her thighs in.
The same goes for a subject with bad skin; particularly acne scaring. Trying to hide less than perfect skin in the shadows makes it very difficult to retouch. Fill bad skin with light, and the problem is easily fixed by your Retoucher.
If you want a more shadowy lighting style when shooting a portrait of someone with bad skin, shoot a couple of frames with your ideal moody lighting so the Retoucher can use these as reference, but pump up the fill-light on the face for shooting. This practice can be helpful in all instances where you are using shadowy lighting on the face, not just when there is bad skin.
It is generally always possible for your Retoucher to add shadow to an area, it’s much harder to remove it.
Don’t be afraid to let the truth be seen, a Retoucher can create the
lies fantasy later on.
Jon Enoch Photography
Given the recent negative press at the moment about retouching, I thought I’d re-post an article in The Times I contributed to; written by Sarah Vine. It was published as a double page spread on Sat 14th August 2010 (a few months after I moved to London).
Images were photographed by Jon Enoch and retouched by FauxPink. The retouching was intentionally done in a very over the top way, just to provide an extreme example for the girls to see. It’s not my usual style of retouching, nor do I condone this kind of retouching of teenagers or in teen magazines. It was done purely for the sake of this article and was done with the permission of the girls photographed in an attempt to gauge their reactions.
A selection of the Article is below.
What teenage girls really think about retouching
In a studio in London three teenage girls are waiting to have their photographs taken. Aged between 13 and 15, they are textbook representations of their age group: a little awkward, monosyllabic and self-conscious. They are coming to terms with their changing bodies: spots, braces and emerging curves. They are also the defenceless victims of a huge global conspiracy. That, at least, is what was implied when the Guides called for compulsory labelling on airbrushed pictures last week to tackle the”damaging and unrealistic pressures on young women”. The idea for today’s photoshoot is simple: to photograph them as nature intended, then subject the images to standard magazine manipulation to show them how much fakery is applied. Abbie Muntz, the digital retoucher charged with this task and a veteran of many years’ standing in the magazine business, is refreshingly open about what she does. “The extreme stuff is mostly in advertising,” she says. “That is where they’ll get you to put one model’s head onto another. Otherwise a degree of retouching is standard for all editorial shoots: smoothing out creases in clothes,making skin tone look more even — stuff like that. Most models, for example, are hairy because they don’t eat enough. So I’m forever taking the down off their top lips and their arms. Some are so skinny and their skin is so dull and tired. I spend a lot of time making them look healthier — and in some cases slightly rounder.” She shows me a series of images on her laptop — before and after shots of models and celebrities. Most of the alterations are subtle but significant: lengthening a neck here, raising a brow there. In one shot of the model Lily Cole, one of her eyes has been moved to make her face symmetrical. In another, Elizabeth Hurley has her lines softened and her less-than-perfect complexion smoothed over. “Retouching has completely changed the way models and photographers work,” Ms Muntz says. “When I started out we’d spend ages making sure all the backgrounds were perfect, getting the hair and make-up just right. Now everyone knows that it’s going to be retouched, so they don’t bother.”I think they should credit the retoucher in the same way they would credit the writer, or the stylist, or the photographer. At the moment people like me are the industry’s dirty secret; why not have it out in the open?”