Intro by Skip Cohen
I've written before about social media making the world a smaller space. Here's a prime example. I've never met Kristina Sherk, but caught some examples of her work as a retoucher after she posted on Twitter. I checked out the link she shared and then picked up the phone and called her. During the conversation I asked if her if she had an interest in doing a guest post and here we are.
I love her approach, because retouching certainly isn't just for beauty photographers. More to the point, so many of you spend hours on your computer cleaning up images when your true value to the business is in marketing. Jeff Jochum coined an expression years ago with "right-sourcing". It's like outsourcing, but more to the point.
So, when it comes to your images, work to get great shots right out of the can. Get to know your gear and fine-tune your skill set, so you're not having to spend hours cleaning things up. Next, when you get an image that really requires additional work, things you couldn't have resolved before hitting the shutter button, consider enlisting the help of somebody with a great skill set, a retoucher like Kristina.
Interested in seeing more of Kristina's work? Check out her website. She's based in Bethesda, MD, but with the click of a mouse she can be right next to you anywhere in the world.
by Kristina Sherk
While I do have to admit, the majority of retouching inquiries I get are about beauty retouching, I’m always excited by inquiries from photographers outside the fashion and beauty fields. Sometimes (if I’m lucky) the request is something I’ve never done before, so I get to challenge myself! I’ve heard it all; from “Can you remove this person?” to “Can you change the background?” and even… “We need to create a group photo from a bunch of individual portraits.” So, as you can see; retouching is not just for the fashion photographer anymore!
A long time mentor of mine; John Harrington once told me, “The amount of time you have with your client is reversely correlated to how much money you should be charging them.” To translate; when you’re photographing executives in the corporate realm, their time is exceptionally valuable, and the less time you take to capture a good portrait, the better a photographer you are. And thus, you should be compensated accordingly. After all, time is money, people!
So when photographers feel the need to call in a retoucher, it’s usually after a shoot didn’t go according to plan, or the client wasn’t happy. And sometimes, it’s a direct effect of how much time the photographer had with the client. Having a professional retoucher on call who can fix problems if the shoot goes awry is imperative if you choose not to devote the time to learning photoshop. But please don’t take this statement the wrong way! It’s ultimately your choice to decide how your time is best spent.
If you do decide to devote time to learning photoshop, plenty of photographers become exceptionally proficient in the program over time. I recommend photographers take one new menu item a day and research how to use it. It only takes 30 minutes or so, and over time, as your knowledge of the program grows, you’ll be able to save yourself tons of hours of work because you’ll know how to work smarter, not harder!
Here are a couple examples of corporate images I’ve retouched.
Stephen Voss called me to see if I could replace the table cloth and cutlery on the table, with a natural wood table top because “the editors thought it didn’t look organic enough.”
Isaac Oboka’s clients decided after the portrait, that while they liked the wife in the image, the husband didn’t look that great. So I recreated the shutters behind the woman and removed the husband.
Jamie Rose: In this image for a housing ad about moving into a new apartment, I got to play stylist and wardrobe staff, while I added a shirt to the boy in the shot.
Whether you decide to retouch your images yourself, or outsource the work, retouching is still an integral step in the photography process. You owe your clients the best representation of themselves in the image you provide to them. If you do it right, your clients will stick with you over the years since “they always look so good in the photos you take of them.”
Can someone say client retention? Cha-CHING!