Skip to main content

Being a Retoucher Q&A

Lesson 26 from: The Business of Professional Photo Retouching

Lisa Carney, Simon Peter Raible

Being a Retoucher Q&A

Lesson 26 from: The Business of Professional Photo Retouching

Lisa Carney, Simon Peter Raible

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

26. Being a Retoucher Q&A


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Who Should Be a Retoucher?


Genres of Retouching


Comp vs Finish


Lisa's Path to Retouching


Simon's Path to Retouching


Establishing a Look


Who is The Client?


Lesson Info

Being a Retoucher Q&A

The conversation we were just having about interacting with your photographer and getting direction, or giving direction This is from Lina, who says, "As a photographer, how am I supposed to know how to describe how far to go with the retouching?" So, what does that conversation look like? If they can pull out examples and show me an example. Scrap. If they can, we're gonna do call outs tomorrow-- But it's pretty much you take a, have a picture and with a grease pencil you can say, you can circle it, and there's a little curlicue thing that you do and you're like, "Take this out." Take down the smile lines, some. 50%. Take the shine off some. And then it's a verbal, speaking and everything. Another thing is, what I normally do is if there's 10 shots, I'll overdo the first one and I'll be like, "This is where it should be," and I'll push it a little too far. Send it in and they say pull back a little bit, and I know, okay. And once that's dialed in then I know how far to go with t...

he rest of 'em. So, a further answer to that question. So, first of all, scrap. Getting samples out in the universe. Second is hopefully they have a retoucher who has samples of their own. And the retoucher can pull out samples and go, "Well look, how far do you wanna go? How far, look at this." And on that case like, we're gonna talk about promotion later. I don't show before and afters ever. Ever, ever. I never post a before and after. But I will walk in with a before and after in my hands. Digitally walk in. And I can show a before and after. And I wouldn't be afraid to ask a photographer to demonstrate levels. So lemme give you an example of that. When I have a brand-new client who I've never worked for before, and they're, we're really having a hard time kinda articulating how far to go, I will give 'em three samples. I'll do, and I won't do the whole job, I'll generally do a part, and I'll do gentle, medium and then heavy retouching. And they can compare. So that's another option, is to ask for something like that. Like a comparison. All right, I'm glad we have a few minutes, because one of the biggest topics in terms of questions that people have been asking today is about how you get started in this business. You have both been in the business for 20 years. We heard your stories. But what recommendations do you have for people who are just getting started, they're beginners. Do you have any recommendations on how to get work? Do you do it through agencies? How do you market yourself. Kind of a big conversation. Yeah. But what are your recommendations to up-and-coming folks? If they're not doing the work, start doin' the work. Start doin' it for you. Number one. Yeah, Lisa made a card for her mom, I started with T-shirts. I mean you gotta start, just, and you'll find out if you wanna be doin' this with your time. If this makes you happy, it's a pretty good match. Take photographs. You got phones on you. You got cameras on your phone, man, there's no runnin' it down to the drugstore to wait for it to be developed and give 'em 30 bucks, man. Everything's just free photography right now. And get Photoshop, is there Photoshop Lite, or any kind of photo manipulation software, and start playin' and figure out a vision you wanna accomplish. So give yourself a little project. Don't just go learn, you won't put yourself in a tight spot. You gotta give yourself somethin' to accomplish and then you'll come to a hurdle and you'll have to learn up and over that. And then to get started in the business, once you, so then what you'll do is you'll start building a body of work. You will have pieces that you have made, and that, you'll start takin' that and you'll get into a friend zone and share 'em with other artists and to go get work you would, what would you do? You would-- Okay. Yeah I would post it, start postin' it on the internet. Yeah. Okay, so I have a few thoughts. So first of all, it's a very broad question, because what industry are we talkin' about? Doing movie posters is not doing photo retouching is not doing magazines, they're very different. So I'm gonna give you some generic samples, so. First of all what Simon said 100% start doin' the work. Do the work now. So, if you want to be in a particular kind of industry, just start mimicking that work now. Find out who's doing it. If it's, let's say for example, you wanna do movie poster work. Well find some bands that want some posters done and make them look like movie posters. Do independent film posters. Do fan posters. You know, make your own work. Second of all is find out who's in the industry. So for example, if you wanna do photo work. You wanna do photo retouching, compositing, well who hires people like that? Well photographers do. Well join photo groups, and we're gonna talk about this in the next section, the later section, about promotion and getting forward. But what I had not considered talking about but I wanna talk about right now was my path. And that was the informational interview. So here I am, 20-somethin' years old, working at a camera rental shop and being a photo assistant, walking by a finishing house, so it was called Metaphor Imaging. They did movie posters. Walked by it every day, it was right next door. And I'm like, "You know what, I wanna work there." I walked in and I said, "Hi, I am not ready to work here, I'm not skilled enough. I wanna work here. What would I need to do?" Guy sat down with me, he said, "Great, you know what you need to do? You need to know how to mask, and you need to know how to clone." That was basically, it was 100 years ago, that was all that was available back then. "If you can do that, you can pretty much do this job. And in a place like this." I was like, "Well that's awesome." I then walked out and I got, oh my god I was so young, I can't believe I did this. I had three almost full-time jobs. I worked on a, do you remember that video box, that awful one I showed you? That's, I went to work at that company so I could learn how to mask and retouch. And I did awful work. And I worked really hard, and I had another job so I could eat. And then I went back in nine months, I went right back to that Metaphor Imaging and I said, "Hi, you remember when you said if I learned how to mask and I could clone you'd give me a shot? Well I've done that." And the guy, we're still friends to this day, he's got a agency down in LA, he said he felt completely obligated to give me a try. So he sat me down at a computer, at night, I came in at night, I had giant Wacom tablet, I had never used one before, and he said, "Great." And I had a job doing Barbie dolls. They were prototype Barbie dolls. So they had all the seams, the plastic seams, and the pins in the hands. And I just had to strip it out and retouch out all those seams and the pins. And they left and they came back the next morning, and I was like, "Well, here's what I did." And I got the job. I absolutely, but it's because I did an informational interview, which means I'm asking questions without asking him to do anything. If I had walked in nine months earlier and said, "Can I have a job?" The door woulda been shut in my face, flat out no. So, hopefully that's some advice, and we'll do some more tomorrow. That's awesome. Excellent Maybe time for one more, 'cause we've had a couple people ask about it today. Can people start, get into this industry in their 50s, in their 60s? Is there ageism? Is there, you know, is there a limit? All right, do you remember how I said we were invisible? Very few people know what I look like. Probably very few people know how old I am. They see the work. I'm in Italy retouching. They don't see any of this. None of this happens. So, now is there ageism? If you go into a agency, like a entertainment ad agency, and everyone's 20 and they're all tatted up, and you're an old person? Yeah, there's probably gonna be some ageism. Let's call it, let's call it. That's, it's accurate. Another thing is those kids are gonna be workin' 20 hours a day. Do you really wanna skip back into 20 hours a day, at 50 years old? 'Cause that's what the job's gonna ask of ya. Right. So, as someone who's older, who may not have quite the lifestyle ability to work that hard, go another route. Earlier I said there's all kinds of paths. There's 100 different paths, you can get in there. Just go a different door, don't go in that door, go in the door over here. So I would say 100% they could still do it. They just have to be creative about how they do it. And do the work. You gotta have samples, you gotta do the work. Get to practicin'. Practice, practice. Yeah you can learn anything. Yeah. My dad retired from a second job and then that day picked up piano lessons. Loves it. But he just keeps his mind active, so. Yeah. Yeah, learn how to retouch. So yes, there, but-- Yeah, do somethin'. And yes, let's call it, there is ageism. But if you're invisible, there's no ageism, is there? Yeah, great point. Yeah.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

File Naming Convention Sample
Estimate Worksheet Form
Finishing Delivery Example
File Naming Convention Explanation
Worksheet & Billing Checklist
Solar Curves Action

Bonus Materials

Adobe Stock Contributor
Alien Skin Software Discount Code

Ratings and Reviews

Bill Buckley

I'm a photographer who wants to be as good at Photoshop as possible. In my field few retouchers get hired, so it's all on me. Plus my creative vision cannot be accomplished by photography alone. Not to mention that in the field, as a photographer I can't always be perfect. Photoshop to the rescue. This is possibly THE best class I've purchased on Creative Live, and they've all been good. Great insight, entertaining, well taught Lisa and Simon were awesome. Bought more LC tutorials based on this course.

Kari A. Youkey

This course just opened my world. I started ( back in the Jurassic era) as an illustrator/drafter ( pen and ink), then CAD programmer, then GIS analyst with photoshop just coming onto the scene pregnant and unplugged focusing on parenting and my inner artist. I was gifted an IPad 6 years ago in the mist of my Taxi Mom years. My favorite ‘hobby’ became manipulating images and an addiction to Adobe apps. Now, In my new empty nest status, I have been trying to figure out my next direction in life....and CreativeLive has been a wonderful resource to explore different creative opportunities, feeling somewhere between photography and graphic design, I wanted to ‘paint’ photos with my tool of choice the tablet, not the camera. ...but it wasn’t until this course that I clicked with an Aha! I don’t have to become an photographer? I could get paid to retouch? Other people’s photos?.....and, I have a work history skill set that backs it up! Thank you so much for this course! Loved the instructors and how they shared their experiences and knowledge. You two have just provided a wonderful map and whole new path to explore and inspired a much needed creative spark to get back to work❤️. Thank You!

a Creativelive Student

Lisa knocked it out of the ball park again! Amazing work Lisa and Simon! I just can't find the many words that express how much I gain with each and every course she teaches. Once again, a wealth of information that was given in a down to earth manner. I absolutely love her teaching style! Amazing course Lisa and Simon, awesome job!

Student Work