Retouching, editing, photo manipulation or even airbrushing are common words that float around a photo shoot nowadays. Whatever you want to call it the procedure involves altering the look and feel of an image from it’s original form using various software programs and skilful techniques.
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Retouching gets mixed reviews as some believe the ability to trick the viewer by enhancing a product or person is unethical and a misrepresentation of the real thing. Welcome to the world of advertising. It’s obvious any company would want to give the impression that their product or idea is better then anybody else’s so image manipulation becomes an extension of the photographer's skill set. No matter how well lit an image is, there is so much more information in a digital file and it’s the photographer's or retoucher's job to manipulate that out of the image and skilfully create something striking for the viewer to ponder over.
There are numerous great image-editing programs available but I prefer to use Capture One for my Raw converting and Photoshop for everything else. Both programs allow me full control of what it is I’m trying to create.
Whatever your views are on image editing, retouching images is here to stay and the possibilities will continue to grow as more and more fantastic programs come to market. I, for one, love spending a day in front of the computer, plugged in to my favourite music, engrossed in editing my latest shoot. Not all of my work requires in depth retouching ‘however’ so my team have to work on the not so enjoyable stuff too. This is often referred to as basic hygiene which includes removing of dust and scratches, chromatic aberration, purple fringing, banding, noise or any imperfections like spots and scars on skin tones or objects that intrude on the image. Basic hygiene also includes removing an item that it wasn’t possible to remove during the shoot itself.
My team are exceptionally skilled and there is nothing they can’t do. From completely rebuilding a product like in this Google Glass shot to removing window frames whilst keeping the natural view outside are all simple tasks for them. I spent several years building a bespoke team and teaching them all I know about the Stock Photography industry, which lead me naturally to offering the same service to photographers looking to free up their time by outsourcing their post production work flow.