Not everyone needs to hire a retoucher, right? Well, that may be true, but I’d like to make the case that most people probably do need one. Let’s dive into the complex world of post-production, understand the art of it, and the time it takes to do well.
Full disclosure: I always work with a retoucher. That is a prerequisite for me taking on any job, it’s always on the estimate and invoice. So for me now there isn’t a shoot where a retoucher is not hired.
First and foremost, hiring a retoucher is a no-brainer if you yourself have no experience in Photoshop. A bad image isn’t as obvious as a badly retouched image. 10/10 times I can tell that someone hasn’t retouched a lot if their skin has no tonal variation and all pores look the same.
Hire a retoucher and have well-done images. You can shave off a few years of mediocre-looking work by having your photos retouched well.
Retouching is a Standalone Profession
I believe that retouching in itself is a job, not only a job but an art. A good friend of mine, Zahar, shows just how much of an art it is in his Instagram stories. Transformations, color changes, and crazy edits, all of those and more are part of his daily magic job.
Having worked with Zahar, his job is much more than just removing imperfections. His and any decent retoucher’s job is to transform an image in their own unique way. An easy way to tell if a retoucher is good is by looking at their Instagram. Rita, for example, has worked for clients such as Dior. Zahar, who now teaches post-production, has worked for Vogue. They are bound to know the latest retouching trends and be aware of what’s considered good at the time of publication.
Good retouchers make sure their style is relevant. Photographers have already a lot on their plate trying to keep their images trendy. Having a retoucher takes some of that weight off your shoulders. It also reassures you that the photo will be the best possible version of itself. Indeed, a professional retoucher will see a lot more than you do, and be able to correct the smallest imperfections that are barely noticeable but make a difference in the greater ensemble.
Another reason to work with a retoucher is to save time. I’m a strong believer in the idea of doing what’s fun and what you’re passionate about. That way, you make more money and live a happier more fulfilling life. For you, retouching may very well be daunting. Why spend that time on something that is not enjoyable when you can choose to create your life in a different way?
I personally choose to hire a retoucher because that is what allows me to focus on creating new work and market current work. This also enables them to do what’s hopefully most enjoyable for them. It’s a win-win.
Overall, you should hire a retoucher in case you want to dramatically improve how your images look, focus on creating new images, and ultimately have more fun with photography. Naturally, there is also a case to be made for keeping retouching to yourself, but I can’t think of any big-time famous photographer who does their own retouching. Most have dedicated teams taking care of post-production.
Of course, let your team know what you are looking for in an image. It might happen that they go in a direction unwanted by you. But most of the time, it will be a positive experience.