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Why pay for a skilled retoucher?

Chevy Station wagon - skilled Photoshop execution

I always find it interesting when I am at an event showing my images or even telling people what I do because I get a lot of comments like "My uncle Steve can do Photoshop," or "I do Photoshop too so I wouldn't pay you to do it"

Of course, Uncle Steve's work often looks like this...not exactly flawless and definitely not something I would produce.

Bad Photoshop example - from

The fact is anyone can 'do' Photoshop cause they sell the program to anyone - but having a tool doesn't make you an expert. In fact it's no different to saying you're a mechanic because you can get the tools at Bunnings or that you're a race car driver because you have a car licence. So what's the difference?

The difference is skill. Skill is developed through a lot of trial and error, hours and hours of practice, continued learning, experimentation and dedication to your craft. You may have a natural affinity for something, be it sport, art or something else, but unless you spend the time honing those skills you never progress much past the basics.

The other argument is the "Computers and technology have come so far nowadays, they do all the work." Actually there are some amazing programs out there that do some really cool things but realistically you still need to know what you're doing to get the most out of them and get consistent results. Everyone can get lucky with one or two images, races or whatever it is you're doing professionally but to be consistent is the sign of a skilful operator. The biggest misconception with retouching or art is that you sit in front of the screen and say 'Ok computer, give me a great image that looks cool.' That's not how it works (until the AI programming gets a lot better at least). To be honest I rarely use things like the new selection tools in Photoshop because I have to spend more time cleaning up the selections afterwards compared to doing them by hand anyway.

Having the latest tools and technology can certainly make things easier but going back to the mechanic example, you may have the best equipment but if you don't know how to use it it won't help. Would you take your car to be customised by the person that did this...

The thing is, bad work even happens with 'professionals'. Now I say 'Professionals' here because it's just a title that a lot of people use to describe themselves but that doesn't make them skilled at what they do. Sadly there are a lot of examples of 'professional' commercial work, adverts and especially magazine articles that look terrible - missing limbs, added limbs, distortion etc. This example below went viral last year. It was a shocking example of someone completely ruining a set of photos because they had no idea what they were doing when retouching, even though they had the tools. You can read the full story here, about Pam Zaring and the 'professional' photographer they hired for a photo shoot.

Photoshop wedding fail

The real question you need to ask when you're looking for someone is for examples of their work. If you're looking for a Photoshop artist or retoucher then I strongly suggest asking for some before and after images, so you can see the quality of work you're likely to get. A professional retoucher should be able to produce both the before and after image, this usually eliminates those that just steal other peoples images from the internet and pass them off as their own as they wouldn't generally have the raw images. If you're after a photographer then ask for a gallery of their images.

Style is something else that comes into play in photography and Photoshop work. Personal style is always evident in each artists work, that thing that draws you to their images over someone else's. If you like their style then go for it, if you don't then generally I wouldn't hire them to do a job in a different style as they may not be able to achieve the look you want - unless they are really versatile or flexible in what they can do. Again, asking for samples of other types of work can help you make a decision.

If you would like a skilled artist to create you a masterpiece then you have to be prepared to pay for that skill. After all, they have invested 100's if not 1000's of hours in their trade, learning and working to produce quality work, plus they still have to invest in having the right tools for the job. Of course if you don't really care about the result then I'm sure you can find a bunch of people that will do the work cheap. The old saying 'You get what you pay for,' doesn't even cover it as you have to get the work redone to a good standard so you end up paying twice, once for the work you can't use and once for a good job, so save yourself time, stress and hassle by just hiring a skilled artist first time around.

You can see examples of the complicated composites on my website and Instagram/Facebook pages or if you're after standard commercial work like clearcutting and retouching I have samples I can show you those as well. If you like what you see and you would like to work with me then get in touch - or you can message me on Instagram/Facebook via my @jademunkynz pages.

You can see some of my final image examples below. For more visit my website or Instagram page.

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