Ten Tips to Become a Better Retoucher

When you are starting out in photography, establishing a retouching workflow is one of the best things you can do. This video provides 10 steps to become a better retoucher and gives a helpful order to take when editing your work.

Retouching is an overwhelming task for a beginner. A whole world of possibility is opened up to you, but you still need to develop the knowledge of when the appropriate time is to use a technique. What’s even more difficult is deciding what amount of editing to apply to an image, as every photographer tends to overdo things early on. The best thing you can do is find one adjustment at a time to focus on and master that. If you are a beginner, this video from Craig Beckta is perfect for you.

While several of the tips in this video are going to seem simple to the experienced retoucher, I appreciate how Beckta was able to provide his steps progressively so that you can identify quickly with where you are and what would be beneficial to learn next. His last two tips resonated with me as I remember them being breakthrough moments when discovering my retouching style. These two tips were darkening the background to cause your subject to stand out, and controlling the colors tones in your highlights and shadows separately. When I first saw someone darken the background while leaving the subject properly exposed, my eye for photography improved instantly. Finding your taste by experimenting with these skills are essential when you are trying to develop your specific style.

If you are relatively new to editing and want to see a good tutorial on basic retouching, take a look at the video above.

Levi Keplar's picture

Levi Keplar is a wedding and portrait photographer and educator. He currently owns and operates his studio, Katie & Levi Photography, with his wife and is based in the Wichita, Kansas area. He has a passion for both the technical and the business sides of photography and helping others to grow in those areas as well.

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My biggest tip would be to make sure you always use non-destructive workflows.
Do your Dodge and burn with curve layers. Never have a pixel layer above an adjustment layer

Just from someone who's only adjusting lighting and dropping in LR he talks about avoiding making the subject look plastic and fake yet his final shots do exactly that, even to the point of removing moles and freckles from the models shoulders and chest. To my eye it reminds me of '90's "airbrushing" and doesn't look natural at all