The Benefits Of A Retoucher + Photographer Partnership
I believe many of you may have had a similar experience to this: You are having a shoot the next day early in the morning but you are still scrambling with a whole lot of images in Photoshop. It’s midnight and you desperately want sleep, but you try to finish everything before the deadline to make your last client happy. You are exhausted and stressed, wondering “Is this what it means to be a photographer?!”
If you have read the book, “The 4-Hour Workweek“ by Tim Ferriss, you will be pretty familiar with the concept of outsourcing. Bringing other talented artists in your team means having someone else contribute to YOUR business using their best skills. It is not only saving your butt from living in a “the 4-hour sleep week”, but helping you create the best work.Because when you clear your mind from all that mess you were putting yourself into, you become focused on what to do to get the best images, and your creative mind opens up.
New York fashion photographer Jodi Jones is a great combination of an artist, leader and perfectionist, but luckily she learned the art of doing less years ago. Now, her and I have been collaborating for her post production work. As a professional retoucher, I would like to share a few tips with you when finding and working with retouchers.
1. Get Someone Who Understands Your Work and Style
I had been working with Jodi for many years. Jodi and I are really great friends. I know her work and love it! The key is to have someone who really understands your style and aesthetic, because that is going to dramatically effect the result of the images. For example: Does your work tend to be dark and expressional? Do you like lots of color and contrast? What kind of color tone do you usually prefer? What level of retouching would you like your images to have?
2.Have The Retoucher Engage in Your Creative Planning Process
Great high-end retouchers are far more than just geniuses of digital technology. Most are amazing artists themselves. Having your retoucher participate in your pre-shoot process could take your creative planning to the next level. Jodi and I usually discuss the concept before her shoot. Based on her concept, I would give her suggestions on what we could do “on set” and in post-production such as color toning and composition. Another example could be: Is it better to have more makeup on the model when shooting with a camera like Jodi uses, the Phase One XF 100MP medium format camera, to cover any blemishes, or is it better to have minimal makeup? Definitely less is better! I like to use Capture One to create a series of color tone images from the pre-shoot examples she sends to me. That helps her generate more inspiration and focus on preparing for the shoot.
3. Communication is the Key
Your retoucher often appreciates your work and cares about the outcomes just as much as you do. Communication throughout the process is a MUST for both of you in order to get the best result. Even if your retouchers know your style well enough, each shoot or each image is still different, and retouchers would need specific directions on them. Jodi and I discuss frequently on every stage of the process. Capture One is usually the first tool I use after I receive the raw images because it gives me a fast way to make adjustments only on the raw. I then export the images to a small JPG with a few options for the general color tone and send over to her for viewing before I go too far on photoshop. Needless to say, this fist step is saving us lots of time. After that I work on the images in Photoshop and we discuss other changes such as skin retouching, liquify, etc.
4. Be Open to All Kinds of Opportunity
Retouchers could be one of your greatest connections since they are working with many other clients including: advertising agencies, creative directors and e-commerce, who are all your potential clients! There are also many other ways of collaborating and you just need to open your mind and be creative! Jodi and I have recently partnered together for our Fashion Photography Master Class Tour. We just did our first tour in Los Angeles last month and it was such a wonderful experience! What’s better than teaming up together, sharing your best skills, knowledge, and inspiring the world?