Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Future in Photo Retouching?

Self Portrait Retouch 2012
In my personal experience, retouching can get a bad rap.  Some misunderstand it and take is as an insult and some utilize it and understand why it's necessary.  I personally love it. 

I've been into photo retouching for about 10 years now.  Starting off as a complete amateur, and over time working to pursue it as my life's ambition.  To me, it’s like being a painter or makeup artist; and before Photoshop came into my life I actually wanted to become a makeup artist.  So, in a way I’m doing what I originally set out to do, just in digital form. 

The thing I love about retouching is the same thing I love about makeup artistry, and that’s the ability to transform someone or something into anything I want.  I can work with a great quality photo and turn it into a masterpiece.  I can do subtle techniques to make an image more visually appealing.  I can add clouds to a cloudless day or change someone’s hair color.  I can turn a pink shirt into a black shirt.  The possibilities are endless.

Before & After 2017 • Photo by William Clark
Retouching happened to me as an accident.  I used it as a way to perfect my own photography and got hooked.  In the beginning,  I didn't have all the studio lighting or great lenses or a great camera.  I used what I could and knew that I could "adjust" later if it didn't come out a certain way in the camera.  After learning Photoshop basics in school, I kept at it and taught myself all that I could.  The thing that has helped me get better over the years is constantly studying great photos.  Looking at fashion magazines, hair and makeup photos, high end beauty photography.  Even at the drug store looking at the Revlon and Cover Girl advertisements.  The inspiration is all over and the education is too.

Photography: Debbi Rotkowitz & April Alexander
Nowadays, if you’re stumped on how to do something just “YouTube” how to do it and most likely there’s a video tutorial, and not just one video.  There are so many outlets for education.  And there are so many people capable of doing the same things, to the point where it gets overwhelming at times and I question why I want to do this.  So what makes me stand out?  How on earth could I making a living with retouching with all the competition out there?

We live in more of a visually stimulating time than ever and retouching has become a vital part of what we see everywhere. Years ago, retouching was mainly an industry skill and now it's crossed over into the mainstream world.  I feel like a tiny sea creature in a giant ocean of retouchers all trying to find work.  I may not have “made it” yet, but I'm taking the steps and so far, I have gotten somewhere with it.  Better to be somewhere than nowhere.  I have to remind myself of these things.  I have to just keep on going, keep on learning, keep on getting better and better until the work pays off.  And that's where I am at the moment. :)

Keepin' the faith xoxo

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