Retouching – A Lost Art Form?

In my several years of digital retouching, I have come across many clients who tell me “I have Photoshop at home. I didn’t know you could do that”! Not only has Photoshop become a household name nowadays, but it is now a frequent term used in the English language, the most obvious example, “Has that been photo shopped”? We are living in a world now where almost every house with a computer has some form of image editing software. With this ever-increasing trend, the art of retouching is slowly losing ground. When retouching was done manually, there was an art and skill to it that took years of practice and experience to master.Only the top retouchers could make a shadow look like a shadow and a highlight look like a highlight while maintaining a natural and smooth look. Only a qualified retoucher could fulfill the most complicated and bizarre requests. With digital, the same is true. Anybody can learn to remove a blemish or fix a stray hair within 10 minutes on the computer. Learning to master lighting and shadows digitally is whole new world. And that’s just the beginning.Digital technology has expanded the retoucher’s options to include things that never before seemed possible, such as background changing, head swapping or removing people from a photograph. I have spent several years learning from some of the top manual retouchers, improving my art form, so I can bring was has been so mainstream for so many years to a new world of digital ease and convenience. Bringing the same retouching theories and philosophies, as those that have excelled at manually retouching, turn retouching back into the art form that it is. I just hope, as technology advances even more and retouching becomes even easier to the average person, they don’t forget the art that we, as retouchers, have spent years learning and mastering.

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