Some may ask, just what does my role as a Creative Retoucher entail? So this page is here to clear up any confusion and hopefully educate in the process. Since productions of all sizes happen within three different phases — before, during, and after — I have separated them as such below.
As a creative at heart, I understand that a strong initial concept is a sure fire way to create captivating and even award winning work. It serves as the backbone for which all other decisions are made, and can ultimately make or break the project. My mission is to team up with you from the beginning of the project to ensure your idea is the best, most exciting version of itself it can be. Truth be told, it’s one of my favorite aspects of image making, which means I'm willing to offer up any of my creative ideas, quick composites or preliminary sketches into the mix.
As Ansel Adams famously said, "visualization is the single most important factor in photography." Not everything is clear cut from the onset of a project. You want an astronaut in zero gravity but can’t afford a mission to outer space? How do we photograph several zoo animals in the streets of New York City? I’m here to aid in the logistics of a production and offer creative solutions to those problems that present themselves. Sometimes, all it takes is a new perspective to find the best or simplest route of action. If I can save you a few thousand dollars in production costs along the way, that’s icing on the cake.
When working with complex composite images, it's advantageous to have a retoucher on set (or on call) dealing closely with the photographer and digital tech. More often than not, the set is a hectic place where small details can get overlooked. Those small details can often cascade into much larger problems if not properly tended to. It's much easier to spot those small mistakes working in real time assembling rough composites when assessing the practicality of the images. It's always better to find out what you need before the shoot wrap rather than after.
With a formal bachelor's degree in photography, I have a detailed understanding of the image making process. As a matter of fact, I formed HOWL, a photo collective consisting of four talented individuals who specialize in lifestyle and adventure photography. In partnership with Stocksy, we offer high quality curated stock photography to use in any project you may have. Or better yet, let us know your needs and we will produce the photoshoot for you. As someone who has spent hours and even days sitting behind a computer searching for the right stock image, it's often easier to just shoot it yourself.
From the digital capture to the display monitor and finally to the printed image, there's a lot that can go wrong. Keeping the color consistent throughout the process is an uphill battle, but can be easily tamed with a tried and true workflow. Calibrating monitors, matching Pantone colors, CMYK conversions, creating print mechanicals in layout are some of the hurdles that must be overcome when working in the digital environment. Luckily for you that won't be an issue as these are the concerns I deal with day in and day out. So sit back and relax, I got you covered.
The stigma so often associated with retouching is that the resulting images “don’t look real” or “feel off.” There’s a reason that the devil is in the details, and that's because a project relies on the success of its smallest components. It's my responsibility to watch over the details with the utmost care and even paint them in when required so that everything is in accordance with the nature of reality. Matching light direction and shadow falloff, creating detailed masks, fixing perspective are some of my concerns when building the realism that you expect.
Photography and retouching's past was much simpler before the days of computer graphic imaging. In the constantly evolving environment of CGI images it's important to stay well versed to the changes within the field. Now automobiles, product packaging, characters, and even the natural world are generated by render farms with blazing speed and ease. Yet the complexity of working with numerous passes have not simplified and still require the technical know how to navigate their fickle nature. Especially if realism is the end goal as the colors, textures and effects often need tweaking.
As a retoucher, it is imperative to have a strong understanding of all components that make up the human body. While skin and hair are often the first to be noticed, it is also important to understand the skeletal structure and how it interacts with the ligaments and muscles. Without this an image can quickly fall flat and become unrealistic. I have been trained under some of the leading master printers in the photo industry which is why photographers and agencies alike trust my decision making when it comes to representing a realistic portrayal of human beauty.