What personal qualities do you need to become a digital photo retoucher?
You’ll be surprised, but we get asked this question a lot.
So, what do we tell those interested parties? People who we meet often tend to be genuinely intrigued by what we do for a living.
Well, we would habitually suggest that anyone considering becoming a digital photo retoucher benefits from the key attributes cited beneath. Not that we’d actively encourage anyone to pursue the same goal as us. As we’d be running the risk of creating healthy competition for our services, which would be counterproductive.
That being said, we’ve got two decades of online image editing experience behind us. 12 years under our belt elsewhere, and 8 years and counting with DT. So we’re not going to worry just yet. Nor for that matter divulge any secrets of the trade.
Plus, in all seriousness it would likely take anyone new to the photo retouching sector a good 20 years to play catch up with us. As Photo retouching is definately not an industry you can get up to speed with overnight.
If it was, everyone would be doing it. Providing the ‘everyone’ were equipped with the following credentials. Which we’ve cautiously itemised below in the name of impartiality;
Keen eye for detail
Experience of customer service
Excellent grasp of image editing software packages
Yet there’s another hugely important aspect which any budding digital photo retoucher should possess. In abundance too, if they are serious about making a career from it. And it’s a personal quality not everyone might have realised.
However, we’d argue that having a ‘sensitive’ nature, demeanour and general disposition is something that should be found very high up a check list of the perfect digital photo retoucher’s DNA; if indeed there is such a thing.
Why It’s Imperative that Photo Retouchers Need to Adopt Sensitive Approach
Primarily because you’ll be dealing with some potentially delicate topics when speaking with would-be clients. Taking on board precisely what they’re looking for in their briefs. And by that, we’re not simply referring to the importance of client confidentiality. Despite that being an equally critical part of any digital photo retoucher’s role, it goes without saying.
No. We’re delving a little deeper than that.
Essentially talking about what can sometimes be very private, almost intimate subject matters. Conversations and dialogue around which can be difficult, challenging and incredibly soul-searching for both the client and the digital photo retoucher when asked to fulfil the client’s emotive brief.
Subsequently one has to exercise a degree of subtlelty, together with a measure of decorum from the get-go in these instances. Be it during early interactions with the client (and when determining the very nature of the brief) and of course, at every pivotal point once undertaking and ultimately seeing the work through to mutually satisfactory completion.
Certain Image Removal/adding Requests, Can Consist of Emotionally Edifying Elements
Conversely experiences such as these can be extremely rewarding and to many ends, life-affirming. Especially in a more spiritual way. As well as inadvertently presenting a compelling test of your photo manipulation skillset when conveying and delivering image editing wishes of such a personal complexion.
Let us explain just how and why.
Sensitivity and a thorough understanding of the client’s exacting needs are heightened when dealing with a significant percentage of object removal/addition requests. Especially when said objects happen to be of the human variety, and inevitably could be your client’s former partner, relative, friend or work colleague. Or someone who until that juncture, had played a significant role in their life and times. Until now, when – for want of a better word – you’re approached about digitally erasing said individual from your client’s life and times. Visually at least.
As it happens, this answers the second most popular question we routinely get asked as photo retouchers. After what personal attributes people need to enter the profession.
That poser being; “What is the one editing request we receive more than any other?”
To which we respond without any hesitation; “Image removal.” Or to be more eacting; ‘removing people from images’. With wedding photo retouching briefs being the area we encounter this enquiry the most.
Removing (or Adding) People from/to Images Challenges Both Talent and Mindset of Photo Retoucher
When moving on from important relationships, the act of aesthetically extracting someone from a photo can be a cathartic passage as part of the healing process. Irrespective of how matter of fact it might sound in this particular context. Rest assured, nobody will ever take this decision lightly or reach a conclusion without much deliberation. However life goes on. And sometimes we all need to reboot and start over. The only way we can do that, is to rid ourselves of otherwise inescapable pictorial reminders at every turn.
Tragically, in some circumstances removing objects from photos extends beyond the realms of relationship breakdowns. Effectivley crossing over into incredibly sad and intensely distressing emotional territories for all concerned.
There are times when a client has got in touch with us to ask if we could digitally edit images of a truly somber or more wistful aspect. Where the re-composing of a photo might include the removal of tubes from an infant in a hospital surround. So that the grieving parents can remember their baby the way every human should. And picture their newborns free from pain, clinical support and perceivably appearing as nature intended. Words cannot describe just how special this feels. If not the embodiment of bittersweet. To create the exact image clients in mourning for a lost loved one are searching for.
Being a People Person Is Key to Being Successful Photo Retoucher
This represents the time and place when projecting warmth, compassion, the utmost respect and unfaltering professionalism in terms of digital photo retouching briefs is paramount. And which arrives the very moment client requests are constructed around the heartfelt desire to either remove (or add) loved ones from/to certain photographic images.
Images of a highly sensitive nature which may involve a host of different personal challenges to a photo retoucher, yet ones which unequivocally mean the absolute world to the client. Requests that won’t have come easily to those doing the asking, given the very notion of the topic. The imagery and moreover, the individual narrative. Often focusing on poignant or painful stories which lie behind the photograph we’ve been handed.
For example we might be approached to photographically enhance an image in a way that sees a person who wasn’t present when the picture was originally taken. To seemingly look as though they were. And yes. We can be referring to juxtapositioning a recently deceased family member or close friend within an exisiting shot. With a view to reuniting, or purely reimagining, a moving scene.
There you have it then.
The art of either removing or adding objects (predominantly of the human variety) to images can take a photo retoucher on an unpredicted sentimental journey. Without them realising the enormity of it at first. And is therefore why we’d always highlight the need for a digital photo retoucher to possess a sensitive nature, above any other personal attributes. After all, the other qualities can be nurtured.