I’ve always been proud of my retouching skills, most of which have been self-thought. But as I am gravitating towards a higher sphere of quality in my images, I can only realize my limitations. Most of my time lately has been applied to developing projects, shooting them and try to move on to the next one. Post-processing has become very time consuming. For instance, the (soon to be released) shoot I did for Kaaz took me about 50 hours to retouch. More than a full week. Most jobs overlap being in pre-production for one as you shoot the other and post-process the third… You can imagine what I’ve been doing during the weeks-ends all summer long! Countless hours playing my favorite computer game: photoshop!
So when I was shooting Captain Quebec, I was faced with a decision. I was dealing with Simon Beaudry, a top Art Director from BOS with a keen eye for detail and high expectation. I saw the whole experience as a test for the big leagues! I wanted to impress and to fulfill the expectations. When he suggested that I outsourced the retouching, to bring the image to another level, I accepted. I was introduced to photo retoucher Gabriel Carbonneau. Gabriel had just worked with Simon Beaudry on the previous cover and main series of Urbania Magazine and had is entire trust. I knew Gabriel as we play hockey in the same league, the league of photographers as we like to call it!
I gave Gabriel a call, we setup a quick meeting and discussed the project. Outsourcing your retouching does not mean that you lose control over the project. It allows you to take a step back and put your vision into words. Communication is key and a good retoucher is first of all a good listener. He needs to know your style and be able to elevate the original capture to your expectations, adding his own creative touch along the way. For your retouching to be optimal, there needs to be some kind of bond between both artists, they need to share a common vision for the piece.
I am very protective of my work and was skeptical to let someone « take over » my vision. Having seen what Gabriel could do, he had my entire trust and I truly felt he could bring my work to another level. The Captain Quebec shot was meant to be thoroughly retouched as many elements weren’t and couldn’t be in place for the shoot and needed to be integrated in post.
Over a few days, there was a lot of back and forth between me, the art director and the retoucher. Corrections, corrections! We finally met the deadline and cleared the list of corrections. The result I believe is a stunning image that both photographer, retoucher, art director and client were proud of. I should be releasing soon a quick video showing the steps from the original capture to the final image so you can appreciate the work done behind closed doors!
For most of my projects, I will still be retouching as it’s a skill I would still like to perfect, but more and more, I will be working as a team with my retoucher starting in post-production. Having retouched myself gives me a good idea as to how to shoot for post-production, but by starting the project from the ground up with your retoucher allows you to make time efficient decisions on your shoot that will have great repercussions in post.
But no matter how skillful your retoucher is, the most important skill to develop is communication.