Photoshop… It sounds so easy right? Sometimes it is for sure, but a lot of times when clients want something or someone removed from an image, the question arises of what to replace it with in the finished image. Sure, I can remove anything you want, but it will leave a weird-looking hole unless someone thinks through how the final should appear. Otherwise, it will look… well… “photoshopped” and not in a good way.
For example, if I’m removing a person from a group shot with a brick wall background, those bricks better line up perfectly when I’m done. Taking out power lines or shadows from a shot of a building are a similar challenge because every texture, window, downspout, reflection, and tree branch needs to be replaced in perfect alignment for it to meet my standards. I say ‘my standards’ because I will not let anything go out of my studio that doesn’t look like it’s supposed to. And don’t even get me started on roof shingles.
Those of us who use this software and use it well, will make imagery look like we’ve never been there. I’ve often joked that if attorneys and judges really knew what we do and how we do it, they may never trust another photograph in court. (Ok so I’m kidding about that as there’s safeguards and rules in the legal world, but I hope you get my point here.)
When I meet with restoration clients, I always talk through out loud what I’ll need to do digitally so they understand what they’re paying for when I give them costs and timelines. Portrait clients get to see a bit of the “magic” as we pick their imagery together. Good retouching isn’t simple like a SnapChat filter — the best enhancements are sometimes so subtle but make an amazing difference. Commercial clients benefit because individual colors can be enhanced on products without looking garish. Unflattering light sources in manufacturing facilities can be toned down as well. The possibilities are limitless but can be budget driven. I will always explain options and listen to what clients really need from me.
When used correctly in photographs and photography, Photoshop is amazing and magical. However, when an image element just doesn’t quite line up or make sense, just remember that good digital retouching is not as easy as it looks.