Saturday, January 22, 2011

Retouching - You get what you pay for

I wanted to do a quick post to try to help everyone out there make a more informed decision as far as who they hire for their photo needs. There are a lot of options in the marketplace and everyone has their selling points and their strong suit.

One thing that photographers have more or less been forced to learn over the past decade is how to digitally retouch their images. In the past these edits were done in the dark room, either by a photographer, or by a person they trusted at their photo lab. However, as you all know, in the 21st century things are a bit different.

When you are booking a photographer and they are going to be retouching the photos you are purchasing, it is always a good idea to look at their work and see the quality of work they do. It might even be wise to ask for an example of a before/after image so that you can really see just what they are capable of doing.

I was recently on a headshot photographer's website and I found this image:

Right off the bat I felt like there was something fishy with the image. The right side of his face has a jagged line and looked lumpy to the naked eye. My first thought was that it might just have been because they image was too large and the web person shrank it to fit on the site. So I clicked on the image and opened it in a new window. I was floored by what I saw.

The person doing the retouching simply blurred the entire face, and erased the blur filter over the eyes and mouth!!!!

You can see around the eye, the eyebrow was completely blurry, and on the image before that you can't even tell where the nose ends and the cheek begins!!
Here is the image so you can see for yourself just how terrible this looks: click here

This is not "retouching".

And frankly I would be embarrassed to give this final image to any of my clients.

Take a look at an image I did a few weeks ago. The first image is "before" and the second is "after" retouching.

You can see a difference between the images, just in the color balance and the overall look.
But where you really see the time I spent on the image is when you look closer. (the pixelazation is a result of saving the images as gif files for the purpose of animation)

So you can see I didn't just throw a big blur over the entire image, I took about 2 hours and dealt with every wrinkle and blemish on an individual level. The goal isn't to make a person look like they are an alien, with no wrinkles and completely smooth skin all over their face. The goal is to minimize wrinkles and blemishes. Obviously a person doesn't live to be 40, 50, or 60 without having a single wrinkle on their face. That would look absurd.

I hope this helps anyone out there who is looking at photographers. The final product you get is no longer just dependent on a photographer's skill with a camera.

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Blogger Mike McLean said...

Hey Ray!

Very well written and of course great insights on basic retouching!!

January 24, 2011 at 12:05 AM  
Blogger E. Setter said...

Very good point, stellar work as usual. :)

March 4, 2011 at 1:13 AM  
Blogger Lin said...

May I ask what editing software you use. I'm new to photography and don't have any editing/retouching software. Do you have any recommendations? Thank you.

July 28, 2011 at 6:57 PM  
Blogger raydetwiler said...

I use Photoshop and Adobe Camera Raw for my retouching.

August 8, 2011 at 11:05 AM  

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