Becci Manson Helps Restore the Reputation of Retouchers

A professional retoucher does so much more than just pushing pixels about. To say the least there is a lot of artistic interpretation, collaboration, technical understanding and skill involved.  Then there are master retouchers like Becci Manson who go even deeper,  show us the nonsuperficial side of the industry and help restore pride in a profession that has gotten a bad rap over the years. This video will give you some understanding of what it means to work as a high end retoucher but more importantly it will show you that, being a retoucher doesn’t mean you don’t have a conscience or something important to offer.​

Becci Manson is out to restore the reputation of professional retouchers everywhere. She wants to prove the work she does isn't merely corrective; it's creative too. This short film features Becci's work with photographers such as Claire Rosen, Annie Leibovitz, and Christopher Griffith, who rely on Becci's insights on set as well as in post. Becci also emphasizes the importance of balancing her professional obligations with charitable ones. Following the 2011 Tōhoku tsunami in Japan, she helped organize a network of volunteers to restore over 150,000 individual printed photographs. This ongoing project with All Hands Volunteers helps disaster victims reclaim their memories, one photograph at a time.

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Becci is great. Much of this rings true for Video/Film Editing as well.

Spy Black's picture

I'll add here that, unless you're in a position like Becci, a lot of the retouching you'll do are the whims of art directors/clients. You don't really have much say in the situation, unless you happen to have a receptive art director and/or client (don't hold your breath too much on that one, because there's a lot of fat egos going around). Another big issue is schedules. Everything is wanted NOW.

These two issues, probably above all else, is why you see the insane Photoshop fails that you do, and the unrealistically disproportionate bodies that grace too many covers and ads. People want (for example) models thinner, etc., and they want it NOW. I've seen incredibly rushed disastrous work because projects are never scheduled enough time. Get that shìt done, and get it out now. Make her thinner, make he perfect. Recipes for disaster.

I would bet that the majority of retouchers involved in Photoshop fails are actually quite good retouchers, they're just stuck between a rock and a hard place.

She mentioned something just after using a high pass filter to give images more of a film look. I couldn't quite catch whether it was. Any ideas?

Anders Brinckmeyer's picture

I believe she said 'grain' (as in noise). Its usually added to give blurs and filtered effects etc. a more natural look.

Ah thanks, thought it might be some massive revelation to my own work like frequency seperation was when I heard about that haha.

Anonymous's picture

Interesting and nice beautiful work ... but for me is just a advert .

I think pro-retouchers get very raw deal. So much criticism of retouching is based on the terrible work of ham handed amateurs. A lot of the remaining criticsm is pure jealousy or fear of technology on the part of old timey photgraphers. My first photography teacher had much the same opinion about darkroom pros back in the film days. He thought they didn't get nearly enough credit and that a lot of famous photographers had built their reputations at least partly on the hard work and incredible skill of the guys in the lab.

I think photoshop demands at least as much and maybe more technical skill and nearly as much creative vision as photography itself.

Roman Kazmierczak's picture

It was killing me few years back, when everyone was comparing shooting jpgs to shooting film, forgetting(or even not being aware of) how much work was done in a lab...