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Photo Retouching "Improving" photos, post-production, correction, etc.

If it's not good, I don't want to fix it

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  #1  
Old 07-26-2011, 12:37 PM
drode drode is offline
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If it's not good, I don't want to fix it

This was a quote from Jay Maisel in a recent video with Scott Kelby. It struck me as profound on two levels.

First and most obvious was the idea that one should start with a quality image and go from there. One will rarely take a poor image and make it great and a mediocre final image is not much to aspire to.

That aside, it got me to thinking about the hybrid enthusiasts like myself. I am both photographer and retoucher. I want to get everything I can perfect in the camera but I know that's only half the job. I see the in-camera image as the raw material for the final image. I expect to retouch each image, be it a portrait, a landscape or a still life. I often think about how I will process the image as I shoot and adjust accordingly.

One of the great freedoms of not being a full time pro is that I get to choose exactly what I do, when and how.

One of the great costs is that mastery is incredibly slow and difficult if one does not work at that craft all day, every day.
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Old 07-26-2011, 01:23 PM
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John Wheeler John Wheeler is offline
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Re: If it's not good, I don't want to fix it

Hi Drode
Interesting comment by Jay. I have not seen the video so hard to make a comment directly.

For me, when retouching/repairing images, I try to think in terms of the value to the customer/client of the finished product and not just my own values about if is a good image or not. If the customer is myself, then that is pretty easy to determine. If not, sometimes the best image a client has may be considered "poor" yet it is all they have. A repaired image of even what I would consider a poor starting point for an original image could be priceless for the client.

A specific case is Operation Photo Rescue (OPR http://www.operationphotorescue.org/). Many images submitted for repair are not just badly damaged, they are also not the greatest photo prior to being damaged (by my values not the greatest photo). Yet you know, the images are very important to those that probably have lost just about everything.

Since I did not see Jay's video I could be off the mark yet thought I would play devils advocate on the topic since there rarely are hard and fast rules that apply to all situations. Only meant as food for thought.
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Old 07-26-2011, 01:49 PM
madclark madclark is offline
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Re: If it's not good, I don't want to fix it

I wholeheartedly agree. It's probably one of the biggest things I've learned over the years is that you can't polish a turd with retouching. My maxim is I can make a poor image acceptable, an acceptable image great, and a great image into an outstanding piece of work, but I can't make a poor image instantly outstanding.

It's important to manage expectations. When you work with others, they have to understand that Photoshop is just a tool that has limitations. It's not a magic wand just as a retoucher is not a wizard (yes I saw the last Harry Potter this past weekend). I'm in a similar situation in that I do my own work at my pleasure and leisure, but when I work with other photographers you have to make sure they have realistic goals. In either case though I don't think it should stop you from pushing yourself to excel, to constantly increase your knowledge, and to continue to grow your skills with challenging projects with the feedback of other artists you respect. That's why I generally like the RetouchPro forums. Everyone here generally has the same goal of getting better at what they do and supporting others in a critical but positive way.

Jay Maisel, however, is a very experienced professional and I think he's simply expressing his desire to streamline his time to projects that have the best potential. I think it's reasonable for anyone to say they don't want to waste time on inferior projects. Of course it's a subjective observation as to what's good and what isn't and a true retouching master is the one who is able to both see the potential in an image and be able to bring that vision to fruition.
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Old 07-26-2011, 01:57 PM
drode drode is offline
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Re: If it's not good, I don't want to fix it

John,

Good point. I think however, it's an apples and oranges comparison. I was thinking mostly about not taking shots with the idea that I don't need to get it perfect in-camera because I can fix it in post.

In my mind, retouching images that have historical or sentimental value serves a different purpose. It's often more about repair and preservation, I'd think.
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Old 07-26-2011, 04:44 PM
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John Wheeler John Wheeler is offline
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Re: If it's not good, I don't want to fix it

Quote:
Originally Posted by drode View Post
John, Good point. I think however, it's an apples and oranges comparison. I was thinking mostly about not taking shots with the idea that I don't need to get it perfect in-camera because I can fix it in post.
I agree it's apples and oranges. Thanks for clarifying
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