Retouching and why you never show the client the original

For a while now I've been tossing up whether or not I should buy a pen tablet, I was quite happy using my awesome mouse for retouching, and in the past when I'd used cheap tablets I was always left wondering why I should bother. But this week I pulled the trigger and bought a Wacom Intuos 5 small touch tablet. It supports both pen and touch, making it like a larger version of my laptops touch pad, although with pinch to zoom and rotate functions (I'm sure apple have already tried to sue Wacom for "stealing" that idea)

Now it's been taking a little getting used to. In case you haven't used one before, unlike your mouse, which you can pick up of the desk and move to another spot without moving your cursor, if you put the pen on the top left of the tablet, your cursor appears on the top left of the screen. While this in itself is a rather small and seemingly insignificant change, it took my feeble brain a while to get used to it.  Now after giving it a good run this afternoon, using a mouse feels kind of weird.

Now as I've been getting more and more into retouching and leaning different techniques to smooth skin, brighten eyes, bring out details etc, I've watched a number of YouTube videos, and have also signed up to kelbytraining.com which is an amazing resource for photographers, and retouchers alike.

One thing that continues to amaze me as I learn more and more about retouching, is how easy it is to look at a picture you've been working on for say 30 minutes and think you haven't really done all that much. But then you turn off all your layers in photoshop and do a double take as the original pops up. There's a reason retouchers won't show the client the original picture if they can help it.

The big question though is how far do you go? I'll happily remove all your blemishes because they're only temporary. You probably didn't have that pimple on your forehead 2 days ago, and you probably won't have it by the time you receive the retouched picture, so a quick click, and it's gone. I'll remove the bags under your eyes too because lets face it, if you had a couple of good nights sleep, they wouldn't be there anyway, nor would all the bloodshot veins in your eyes.

But how far do you go?

I can remove the dimple in your chin, and that one on your nose. I can get rid of that scar above your eye from when you fell out of the tree as a kid, or the chipped tooth from when you thought your could open that beer bottle with your teeth. But none of those things can be fixed normally without photoshop or plastic surgery.

So how far do you go?

I don't know, that's the simple answer. I guess for me it comes down to what the photo is for. If it's a glamour/beauty/fashion shot then yeah I'll go much further with the retouching then I would for pictures of your kids wrestling in the mud. I guess if I can retouch a picture so that the average person just looks at it as a great photo, then that's pretty much right. But make no mistake, EVERY PICTURE GETS RETOUCHED in some aspect.

Am I there yet? Haha not by a long shot. I think I get a bit heavy handed with some areas, and have many others to improve on. But that will always come both with practice, and patience.

In the meantime here's a before and after from a picture taken from one of the Kelby training courses. I didn't take it, I just retouched it. Now they let you use the pictures for your own use so I guess this counts, If not... I'm sorry Scott!!!

Take a couple of seconds to look at the "after" picture, and see if you like it BEFORE you click to see the original. Does anything look off to you? Ok now click to see the original.

Hey as always please leave any comment or criticisms in the comments section below.