Fstoppers Interviews Retoucher and Photographer Marina Dean-Francis

Fstoppers Interviews Retoucher and Photographer Marina Dean-Francis

After spending a fair amount of time looking through the best images that the Fstoppers community has to offer, it's pretty easy to see what sets them apart. Not only are the shots themselves exceptional, but the post processing is world class (Julia Kuzmenko McKim and Michael WoloszynowiczPhotoshop extraordinaires, hold a few of our top spots). Photographers often take on their own post work either because of budget or wanting to maintain their full creative vision. Sometimes, even great photographers call on the retouching gods to lace their images with a bit of perfection. Marina Dean-Francis is one such retoucher (and photographer) with that incredible power.

Tell us about yourself and your photographic background?

I am a self-taught photographer and retoucher from Bristol, England. I do retouching work for many international brands and publications from all over the world such as Dior, L'Oreal, Schwarzkopf, Wella, Maybelline, Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and many more.

What got you started in photography and retouching?

I got into this business through modeling. I was a model for a while but it got too difficult juggling family and work, as it required more and more traveling.

I started experimenting with different areas of the business such as photography and retouching and those quickly picked up so I decided to quit the modeling altogether and just concentrate on building up my business as a photographer and retoucher.

I find that every retoucher approaches skin differently. What is your method for skin?

Many people think that there is some great set of tricks to what we do, but I am really using the simplest methods possible. I use a small healing brush to clean the skin, and I dodge and burn to even up the skin tone. In my opinion that creates natural and glowing skin. It's patience more than anything.

What kind of things would we find at your desk?

I work on a 27" iMac. I am a big fan of Apple products as they are very reliable and easy to use.

I have an Intuos Pro Medium tablet from Wacom - without which it would be impossible to do my work. 

I swapped the classic pen that comes with the tablet for an Intuos Grip Pen after trying it on a demo tablet. It felt more comfortable for me.

I have three x 2 TB hard drives for storage and back up.

Finally, two bottles of water and a cactus.

At what point are you brought in on the process?

When I'm brought in depends on the client. Some people let me know before they do a photoshoot to book the time in my calendar.

Some clients contact me after the photoshoot with their selected images.

Some clients actively want my feedback for things like which background to use for a better cut out or how to shoot hair in a way that is more conducive to the result they are trying to achieve. Being a photographer as well as a retoucher allows me to give knowledgeable input on the production process to better facilitate the clients' needs.

What kind of information do you usually like to know when someone contacts you to retouch?

When someone contacts me to retouch, I usually ask for the retouching brief (notes on specific details that the client needs fixed) along with the deadline, what the images are for and the total number of images. I work with raw or tiff files and I always ask to see them before committing to a job.

Do you like when clients supply retouching notes with any revisions they would like?

I don't mind either way. But it is always easier when the client knows exactly what he is looking for. It saves time.

Do you have a hard time stepping away from your desk when you are in the middle of the job?

I try to have a ten minute break every hour, although it is quite hard when you are in the middle of a job or have tight deadlines.

What do you differently when you work on images for yourself verses a job?

When I am working on my own images, there is absolutely nothing that is different from the process that I use on my clients' images. I would say that I probably spend more time on finding the right color and mood for my images in comparison with clients' images - usually because clients send some sort of reference.

What do you do on your downtime?

I have a one-year-old baby. Right now, I am trying to spend all the free time I have with my family.

What has been your most memorable moment in your career so far ?

The most memorable moment of my career so far is my continuous collaboration with Wacom. They made a short video about my work and me and I had a film crew following me around for two days.

What is your favorite part of the whole process?

I think coloring is my favorite process. Finding the right tone, the right color for the images is the most creative part of the retouching. It gives me more satisfaction than the routine of skin cleaning, dodging and burning etc.


For many more amazing images, check out more of Marina's retouching work here and her photography work here.

Chris Knight's picture

Residing in New York City, Chris is an internationally published photographer whose work has appeared in Vogue, People, MSNBC, ABC, Ocean Drive, GQ and others. He is an instructor of Photography and Imaging at Pratt Institute and the New York Film Academy.

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Thanks for the shoutout Chris. Beautiful and inspiring collection of images from Marina.

Fantastic work

Fantastic write-up. Loved your down-to-earth candor!

I love those close-up portraits, they could have been shot anywhere! Granted great model and great photographer, but it’s not always about location. I have no excuses for not trying this. Thanks for the great post.

"It's patience more than anything."

It's a lucky retoucher than can find gigs by clients that understand this. So many times I get asked by agencies if I'm free to retouch for a fashion client who wants someone that "needs to be fast". Even if I can use the work, I don't bother, because I know what hell that will be.

Awesome work, BTW.

I know what you're saying! I often get requests like "high-end skin care ad type retouch, only very light touch up, so it's quick and doesn't cost as much"... duh!

I find interviews of such wonderful artists like Marina so inspiring! I just want to go create something beautiful right now... Thank you for sharing Chris!
And thanks so much for the mention!

It was nice to read that the simple methods are still the best. With all of the 'options' available via Photoshop, it can be very easy for people to get carried away and overdo the post processing.

Keep It Simple Stupid

Words to live by.