In reading various blogs and articles by and about retouchers I see lots of folks focus on the dramatic before/afters as proof of a particular retoucher’s skill.

Sure, that can be pretty impressive. But on some level that seems like we’re focusing on the sizzle and not what’s actually the more important skills a retoucher needs to have.

For instance when I’m working with a photographer such as Matthew Jordan Smith, or Jeremy Cowart, or Bob Stevens they give me a really good starting place and aren’t looking for the dramatic difference in the final image.

What they’re looking for is a collaborator who can help them get an image that really expresses their vision. After all as the retoucher, I’m working for them. And it’s important for me to keep this in mind: in the end it’s their vision and their image that we’re working to perfect.

So for me Listening is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of the skills I need to have as a retoucher.

Listening to my clients to gain a thorough understanding of what they’re looking for and where they’re looking to take a particular image will help me in working through all those little subjective decisions that come up along the way.

And it’s only by listening will I be able to make sure I’m helping my clients get just the image they’re looking for which will help me gain a happy client. And that’s what I’m looking for.

So what do you think is the most important skill a retoucher needs to have? I’d love to read your comments and see where this leads.

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