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  • Replacing images backgrounds....

    I have been re-touching for a few years, I'm good but I don't claim to know it all. One thing that has always annoyed me are clients (photographers) who don't pay any attention to details such as hair assuming it will be taken care of in post. There is nothing more time consuming then fixing fly away/stray hairs.
    Also, clients who instead of doing a reshoot tell there subject that they can simply have them removed and placed on another background. Now this is simply enough if the client is shot on a simple plain background like a seamless but if they are shot on location outside with a busy background then its not so simple to replace the background with a plain white or solid background. The technique can often depend on the image so it is trial and error which can be time consuming and most of the time it just looks unnatural. Particularly if its for headshot/portrait usage.

    I have three questions:
    1. Is it ok to tell them a photographer watch for stray/fly away hairs when shooting? (note: one client is a per image fee base not hourly so time is a factor)
    2. Is it ok to tell a client that such a task, like replacing a background, isn't going to work with said image or isn't going to look natural therefor a reshoot is the best solution? Does it look unprofessional and does it make me look incompetent?
    3. Is anything and everything always doable? Is it my belief that the answer is no....

  • #2
    Re: Replacing images backgrounds....

    Interesting questions and I suspect that this can be a difficult one to deal with and still retain your clients good will.

    On the one hand to tell or intimate to a photographer/client that they are not paying attention to detail e.g. hair could be seen as an insult to their professionalism!

    On the other hand you are being honest and actually giving them advice that will save them money in the long run and affect your pocket as you will not need to do as much work in pp. This assumes that you charged by the time taken to do a job and not by the image - in the latter case you are making life more difficult for yourself and not earning what you should be.

    In the case of replacing background once again it is in the photographers financial interest to shoot correctly to minimise the amount of pp you need to do or actually pay more for the time it takes to make the image right.

    So my gut feeling on your questions:
    1. You can suggest to the photographer that excessive stray/fly away hairs can be troublesome and perhaps suggest that for excessive hairs you may need to consider charging a further fee

    2. You can suggest to a client that replacing a background is not going to work for whatever reason including looking unnatural. In a fair world your honesty and integrity should be appreciated in the real world this is not necessarily the case! Remember that if you do work that looks poor for whatever reason either your own skill or the incompetence of the photographer - it will be seen as your fault and lack of professionalism regardless . So I would say yes

    3. Some clients may like to hear that everything and anything is doable. For them the answer should be that it is going to cost in time and financial terms to them.

    In all cases a degree of tact and diplomacy will be required after knowing and assessing the individual and trying to gauge their likely response!


    • #3
      Re: Replacing images backgrounds....

      I think you should turn down people if they are asking for an inferior product. Becaue, if you don't all you will get is more and more inferior work and at the end of the day your work will suffer as you'll have no good result to show to potential customers.

      I often turn down people who are not models yet are keen for me to do their portfolio. Then, when I say that I will have to charge them, and that they will need good stylist and hair/make up artists they feel insulted.

      Photographers who pay attention to nothing are not deserving to be in this business and should be turned down for retouching. Retouching is not correcting and you should never do so.

      No matter how much work you put into an image, it will never look good if the original input is lacking.


      • #4
        Re: Replacing images backgrounds....

        As a photographer I can tell you that, if a retoucher pointed out to me that fly away hairs are a time consuming to deal with, I would not be insulted. I would also be completely comfortable with a retoucher satying to me that shots on white or grey seamless are less time consuming to extract than those with busy backgrounds.

        I would, however, be insulted if a retoucher told me that I did not pay enough attention to detail. There is a lot to think about on a shoot and things get forgotten sometimes.

        It comes down to the relationship you have with the photographer. Mutual respect always helps. Photographers are used to adjusting what they do to satisfy clients, stylists, etc. However it also depends on the deal for payment. If I am paying a retoucher at an hourly rate then I can pretty much ask for anything (knowing that it will cost me), on the other hand, if I am working with a retoucher to develop both of our portfolios, then it seems reasonable for me to get as much right in the camera as possible.


        • #5
          Re: Replacing images backgrounds....

          I am a photographer that retouches all of my images myself for the time being, as I need to get more in-depth knowledge of Photoshop and know what to expect from an image (can something be done on shoot and what is easier to do achieve in post).

          I would never ever ever ever do what most of the lower end photographers do, and that is to send images to retoucher only if something had gone wrong. I would rather re-shoot, and I think this is a professional thing to do.

          Fly away hairs and similar things are not really a problem, and they often add to the image, and I think that FCP is referring to untidy hair, of which I shall speak in another theme in Critiques section. Some sloppy photographers just accept that the hair could look fake and do not even bother to fix the hair on the shoot. That is lack of care, and they should be denied.


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