It’s true, you know. The ‘you scrub my back, I’ll scrub yours’ (professional) relationships/mentality actively encouraged between lensmasters (photographers) and image editing wizards (digital photo retouching artists) really is a ‘thing’.
As traditional double acts go, the working relationship fostered between professional photographers and equally professional digital photo retouching artists is as important (if not necessarily as lightly entertaining) as those historically forged betwixt the end of pier likes of Cannon & Ball, Laurel & Hardy and Morecambe & Wise.
Being based up here in sunny Lancashire, it’s only right and proper we make references to nearby Blackpool, in case you’re wondering.
Yet we could also wax lyrical about other famous double acts. More overtly musical ones, for example. Such as Michael and Ridgeley, Renée and Renato and the Irimia twins (Gabriela and Monica).
It matters not really. As the point we’re stressing is the importance of the almost intuitive nature of two individuals so in-tune with the vocational needs of t’other. OK. I may be over-egging the Lancashire terminology here, so I best decist so as not to risk alienating our readership of a non-northern demographic.
Regional brogues aside. Just why is it that Digital Photo Retouching Artists and Professional Photographers work hand in glove?
Returning to the very gist of this week’s blog though, and I’m addressing the often overlooked – yet keenly furthered– collaborations noted between the likes of us and them. The ‘us’ referring to digital photo retouching artists. The ‘them’ contingent being the photographers (in the capacity of lens-wielding pros). The latter of whom make it their business to capture blushing brides, snazzy new products, the beautiful people generally and pretty much anything else which they’re booked to do. And which best illustrates their particular portfolio.
The thing is this. Sometimes even a consumately professional/experienced photographer needs a little bit of additional help to create the finished visual article. Either as per their client’s demands, or because they’re pre-empting any questions that may arise shortly after from a client. And it’s us who they turn to when the chips are down, deadlines are to be met and said clients are requiring impressing still further.
But just how did it arrive at this, you may ask?
Which you did, in the above line. So let us explain a hypothetical situation or two.
All manner of issues might have arisen somewhere between the photographer clicking away on the day, and the emergence of the compositional piece de la resistance. Such as bad lighting, shadows cast, wind blowing, etc. To name but a few unwelcome attentions mischieviously triggered by Mother Nature herself from time to time. Any of which could result in advanced level histrionics across all parties.
Thankfully digital photo retouching artists are equipped with the neccesary tools/skilsets/experience to correct these more natural – yet wholly unplanned – interventions. Divine, or not so. And set about redressing the balance.
And most importantly, ensuring that the photographer’s client gets what they’re expecting to see.
Which in turn means our client (the photographer themselves) is also cock-a-hoop. And their client – the third party to us, in this creative platform-sharing/skill cross-fertalisational conundrum – is none the wiser as to the ways and means. Unless of course the photographer wishes to describe the entire journey to them. That’s their perogative.
Because let’s face it. The end product is ALL that matters. ‘Journeys’ are something X Factor contestants go on. And providing it looks the part, then the bits inbetween are largely immaterial.
So why does a photographer need to enlist the services of a digital photo retouching artist?
You mean, aside from what I’ve summarised in the above paragraph?
Well, they don’t always. As some professional photographers are relatively adept at image editing themselves, and may well have some form of background in it. However most don’t, and rely on digital photo retouching artists like ourselves to work with them at various times. Especially if the retouching necessitated amounts to more than merely simple visual ammendments. These unscheduled revisions can use up a significant timeframe, so as to complete to a client’s more exacting brief.
As far as many photographers are concerned, the more time spent on Photoshop, the less time they can dedicate to being out in the field, so to speak. And focusing on what they do best. Which is of course, capturing that often elusive money shot. The National Geographic-esque, career-defining moment they’ve long dreamed of. Or alternatively, an awesome shot of a bride and groom on their big day, in the guise of wedding photographers. And everything else in between.
Also time is money. Why dedicate extra curricular hours to tweaking photographic details while compromising your 9 – 5? Not when you can approach/brief digital photo retouching artists to weave the additional aesthetic magic. Or iron out the creases in a party dress, courtesy of the virtual image editing tools we’re rather good at plundering as a key part and parcel of our typical working remit.
Can’t photographers muddle through image editing themselves, though?
Some can. Hypothetically.
And should they possess some rudimentary online image manipualtion skills, as I touched on above. And if they have a spare decade to master the art of what we do for a living, then yes. More than likely in the long run.
But back in the real world time is money. And our core experiences and attributes – while widely acknowledged and respected by both camps – aren’t as easily interchangeable as the casual observer might like to think they are. Hence why digital photo retouching exists as a standalone industry, obvs.
In the guise of experienced and established digital photo retouching artists, we will achieve a whole new degree of sharpness, colour adjustment and quality; and routinely rifle through a whole compendium/back catalogue of other tricks, unique and indicative of our specific trade. So as to ultimately offer a seamless link in the process that begins with a photographer’s shutter speeds and ends in a digital photo retouching artist’s image enhancing fettling.
I’ll tell you what digital photo retouching artists do for photographers….
That was your very next question, right?
Covering everything from object, people and background removal work through to skin tone and red eye-correction, as digital photo retouching artists we are extremely useful at improving the seemingly – and hitherto – unimprovable. Identifying the otherwise most infinitesimal of visual detailing which could, effectively, make of break the deal/bond between a professional photographer and their client. And by default affording a photographer a different retouching perspective on something that they themselves might never have otherwise considered or observed was awry in an original piece.
Yes, we’re THAT accomplished.
You see there’s no doubting a photographers’ ability to compose and manipulate a scene. Nobody can get anywhere close to having their ‘eye for a shot’. Not just seeing it, but sensing it. Before the image presents itself to us mere mortals.
We’ve collaborated with some of the best in the business.
Yet they are not, by their own admission, beauty, wedding or product retouchers. Not to our same standards. Which is a very specialised set of skills that even Liam Neeson doesn’t possess to the best of our knowledge. Which goes a long way in explaining why digital photo retouching artists habitually strike up mutually beneficial associations and work at engendering the kind of business relationships which pay dividends to both parties in the long run.
Digital Photo Retouching Artists and Photographers need an almost intuitive understanding of one another. And where each is coming from. Like a sixth sense (but NOT the Haley Joel Osment type)
The way we see it is like this.
Digital photo retouching artists should always compliment the work of a photographer. Enhance it. Not detract from it. But work with it and pictorially embellish what already exists within the very fabric of the original image. For our part, and to do what we do as digital photo retouching artists, we must always bring four core ingredients to the table if we’re to compliment the photographer’s work. An eye for (and understanding of) art, a natural feel for compositonal values and an enlightened grasp of what factors underpin visual art. Oh, and an appreciation/knowledge of the rudiments of photography.
If we’re going to be instructed by our photographer clients as to how they wish us to graphically elaborate on what they’ve already created, then we certainly need to be up to speed with regards to how they see the world, visually.