Client Login Blog Profile Portfolio Print Capture Retouch Contact Cyan Jack

How to work with a retoucher

A couple weeks ago I was invited to speak to the “Stop Assisting” group at the beautiful Tribecca Skyline Studios.  The item up for discussion was, “working with a Retoucher.”

At first glance, I thought it was a pretty simple topic,  I mean, how much do you need to know about outsourcing a job? but as it turns out, it’s just not that simple.  It was a short form kind of thing so I think I only had about 30 minutes to talk.  Which I thought was plenty but ended up cutting it drastically too short.  by the end of the talk I could have filled a dictionary sized book with everything I wanted those young photographers to know but we were just out of time.

To my surprise, People are pretty confused about why, how and to what degree they should hire guys like myself to retouch their images.  So I thought I would clear some of that up on my blog.   Since this is a big topic, I’m just going to focus on the how for now.  I think the best place to start is with a typical high-end retouching workflow.

This is a “best case scenario” workflow given a typical image composite for an Ad geared with best possible image quality and a one week deadline.  Economies and shortcuts are obviously made for jobs with quick turn around times.

1.  Pre-production / Estimate -This stage is a phone call from the photographer or agency in which the concept of the shoot is discussed and finalized.  It’s important at this stage to be as descriptive as possible, provide visual references/FPO (for placement only), and supply output dimensions  so that your retoucher can provide you with an accurate estimate as well as guidance regarding the process, tools and materials needed to realize your vision.

2.  On-Set Retoucher - During your shoot a retoucher may be needed on set.  It’s always better to have your retoucher on-set than not, even if it’s only to have them for a few hours just to check in.  While on set they can, Composite images for pre-visualization, aid in lighting to achieve a specific look, capture background plates or other elements needed for composting, make prints of selects after each shot and in general ensure that all raw material will flow seamlessly through the final output.  TIP - A good way to get a retoucher on-set without the budget for one is to hire a retoucher as your digital tech.  But clearly the best scenario is to have both a Tech and retoucher on-set.

3.  Markups and editing - Final selects are made from the overall select based on technical concerns and compositing needs.  Maybe you loved the body in one shot but the product in another? Maybe the light changed in the background but you love the pose?  All retouching to be done is discussed and the images are marked up to be sure everybody is on the same page.

4.  Retouching - This is where the magic happens.  You go back to work on your next project and your retoucher see’s the job through.  At CYAN JACK we deliver online or physical proofs of each major retouching round.  We start with positioning, scale and heavy blemishes, moving from general to specific and continue to collaborate with photographer and client until everything is perfect.

5.  Final review and Delivery - When everybody is really exited about how things are looking we will messenger you a proof.  Specifically a G7 Master proof.  This print will very accurately simulate what the image will look like when output to CMYK press and give you another opportunity to make further mark ups.  That’s it! your done, now you have some options:  We’ll upload finals and give y0u a direct link to download right that moment or if you’ve got a big job we’ll Fedex you a disk with final proof.

I’d love to hear If you have any comments or questions. Please post them over on the CYAN JACK facebook page.