Retouch Rescue

Occasionally I will get a request to edit or retouch an image that I was not the photographer for. This usually happens when someone attempts to cut corners, avoid budgeting for a proper professional, or expects a high-end professional result when using (read: misusing) a student photographer.

Let me be clear that I, in no way, have any issues with student/ amateur or hobby photographers. The issue is clients or individuals expecting that this is a method in which to gain the same standard of product for a lower cost, and then being disappointed that they haven't received a final product on par with a paid experienced professional.

Rescuing images or retouching the work of others is not something i do a lot of, for several reasons;

  1. Responsibility. If an image needs rescuing, it generally means that as a client, you've failed to properly research your photographer and his/her skill set, and/or experience level. It would be my own personal preference to re-shoot an image where possible, as opposed to spending upwards of 5+ hours 'fixing' another artist's work.
  2. Style / Aesthetic. Most photographers prefer to edit their own work to keep in sync with their artistic style/ aesthetic. Usually if you are unhappy with an edit for a commissioned work (within reason) the photographer or relevant artist is normally more than happy to make alterations (again within reason) to keep their clients happy and coming back.
  3. Copyright. I will only perform retouching on an image where it is clear that the person/ party / client approaching me in regards to the retouching is the copyright owner of the image and/or has permission (usually written) from the copyright owner authorizing the retouch.
  4. Quality. To create a truly great image in post-production it is still vital to start with the best possible image. This is where the "get it right the first time' attitude comes from. There is simply only so much you can do to improve an image that didn't quite make it the first time.

Below is an example of an image that I performed a rescue retouch upon in 2015 for a close client. No the image is not mine and yes I do have the copyright owner's permission to use it in this video. This is not the original rescue I performed on this image and I have since re-edited this image for feature in this article.

Image courtesy of Miss Lemony Makeup Artistry. Hair, Makeup and Body-paint by the same.

In this video, I perform the following;

  • Curves / Levels adjustments
  • Brightness / Contrast adjustments
  • Colour Filters (Red and Violet) to reduce the green/ yellow cast of the image
  • Clone Stamp / Spot Healing (Both Lighten & Darkening)
  • Skin, Hair, and Makeup clean-up.
  • Small retouches to Body-paint

You will notice on the after image that I have also gone on to fill in where the body-paint has worn off between application and photographing, as well as reducing the visibility of the model's pasties, a small amount of liquify on the jaw line and making the eyes slightly larger. However this would have resulted in a video almost 3 times the size. If people are curious about the re-colouring process I used, please leave a comment and I may post a second video if there is interest.