Understanding The Need For Retouchers

by Adam Rowney

When I started taking photography more seriously, I started to come across photographers who used retouchers. At first glance, I was against the principal. For me, an artist, photographer, or otherwise, created their work on entirely their own merit. The idea that in fact someone else did a great deal of the work I found to be shocking. Especially when often the retouchers weren’t even credited.

With the work I do now, I understand more the need for other people to work together to create a vision. Art directors, hair stylists, makeup artists, fashion designers, there are so many different people that work together. A retoucher is just another part of the creation.

Currently, I retouch all my own work, and I expect to for a lot longer. In fact, I like the control, and I would hate to give that up. But I do understand that if the workload outweighed the workflow, then the need for a retoucher to help take away the pressure would be essential. The other options would be to take on considerably less work, or let the work suffer with poor editing. Neither of these two options will help anyone’s career.

Lastly, there is a clear benefit of outsourcing some of the more monotonous work. With extra time, there could be more focus on the creative aspects of the image, while the time consuming skin/hair retouching could be done by a retoucher. Although I strongly believe a photographer should oversee the work and delegate, not just let the retoucher take creative control. Otherwise it slides into that questionable grey area of “is it really their work?”.