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Developing your own retouching "look"

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  • Developing your own retouching "look"

    Having recently failed at learning to play the guitar, I'm familiar with the concept of trying to play someone else's song as a learning tool. It provides a goal and a measurement of progress.

    But once you're out in the professional (ie: for pay) retouching arena, how valuable is having your own look?

    I privately ask most RP LIVE presenters this same question. I rarely get the same response. It ranges from "I didn't know I had a look" to "mimicking looks is how I get work" to "if I had a look I wouldn't get work".

    So though I've drawn no useful conclusions of my own, and I'll admit to some abstract concept of "unique is better", I'd be curious to get more varied opinions on this matter.

    Do you have a look of your own? Do you try? Or do you try to avoid it? Or do you aim for someone else's look you like? And is this necessarily a bad thing (in work, not in learning).
    Learn by teaching
    Take responsibility for learning

  • #2
    Re: Developing your own retouching "look"

    Personally I think a good retoucher, working for a number of clients, needs to be able to replicate any look as required but otherwise be invisible. You need to be able to tune in to the vision of the photographer and to take the image the last part of its journey towards the intended destination. I understand the Amy Dresser philosophy of having a distinctive look and being hired for that, but I wouldn't call that retouching proper - more digital painting.

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    • #3
      Re: Developing your own retouching "look"

      Originally posted by AKMac View Post
      Personally I think a good retoucher, working for a number of clients, needs to be able to replicate any look as required but otherwise be invisible. You need to be able to tune in to the vision of the photographer and to take the image the last part of its journey towards the intended destination. I understand the Amy Dresser philosophy of having a distinctive look and being hired for that, but I wouldn't call that retouching proper - more digital painting.
      I agree, it's good to be a versatile, and if you are good, you can do anything.

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      • #4
        Re: Developing your own retouching "look"

        Originally posted by AKMac View Post
        Personally I think a good retoucher, working for a number of clients, needs to be able to replicate any look as required but otherwise be invisible. You need to be able to tune in to the vision of the photographer and to take the image the last part of its journey towards the intended destination. I understand the Amy Dresser philosophy of having a distinctive look and being hired for that, but I wouldn't call that retouching proper - more digital painting.
        Yeah, most of us work in a collaborative environment along with ADs and other retouchers. Those who work in a company with other retouchers should all be on the same page to advance the brand in a consistent way. For ADs and managers, I guess it can be like herding cats at times.

        The danger of a "look", is that it can be out of fashion in a heartbeat. Then what?

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        • #5
          Re: Developing your own retouching "look"

          As a retoucher, your port should be diverse, for marketing reasons, as you are aware, you should show off your various abilities. People, including art directors, are closed minded, if they see only one look or style, they assume that you do not know any better.

          Of course you can develop your own look and feel, but it should not be the prominent aspect of your port, it could exist as "sub" port or sub menu on a site that shows off both, diversity and personal looks that you developed.
          Not recommended though that you show off your own look if you have developed one, you never know who is looking, before you know it, Mr. Profane is running away with it. JK. JK. Sorry Benny

          Retouchers are not supposed to have looks, you will not sell, however, you should be able to create any look asked for by a client.

          I have a folder with 62 -as of now- looks or styles, I created all of them either as personal challenge or because someone here asked "How do you do this". Some of them are just straight recreation of a style, while others, a tweak on an existing style or something totally new that I came across accidentally while creating something else.

          OTOH, As a photographer, I do have some sort of style, not look though, still developing a personal look. Having a look or style as a photog is a good selling point. Still, you have to show diversity since you are still dealing with close minded clients.

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