A: Being a retoucher can be a rewarding and enjoyable profession that can pay well if you are working in the right industry. Unusually, it is one of the few jobs on the market today that you can get into that doesn’t have any formal training at university or college. This can lead people wondering how to go about getting the right knowledge to get into retouching in the first place.

Probably the most common way retouchers start out is in photography where they start to develop their retouching skills doing the post-production on their own imagery. However, this isn’t essential to becoming a retoucher, although, knowledge of photography is a great asset to getting the most out of your images and gives you more freedom in the images you will be retouching.

We have identified 3 keys areas to develop that should help get you on the road to becoming a professional retoucher:

Your technical ability to use Photoshop

There are plenty of tutorials available online that teach the basic tools needed for retouching; we have also provided our own free training to give you some more help on our website. There are free stock images available on some websites that so that you can start practicing techniques on, much of the stock imagery available has already had some retouching applied so try to take the time to find imagery that is in it’s RAW form. 

Your eye for colour and tonality

If you are already considering becoming a retoucher then no doubt you will have been inspired by some of the imagery you have already seen. By immersing yourself in great imagery you will start to develop more of an eye for the kind of colour palettes used for fashion or advertising that will start to give you ideas of what is possible to achieve.

Working contacts so you can make a living

Once you are more confident you can start approaching photographers to collaborate on pieces (likely to be for free at the beginning), so that you can really start to develop your portfolio. Having already worked on some stock imagery that you can display for photographers to see on a website will help to give them the confidence to work with you. It will also be a great opportunity to start to nurture working relationships that can bring you paid work in the future if you decide to become a freelancer.

Making plenty of contacts in the beginning by communicating with people working in your industry will key to finding work in the long term and you need to maintain a constant marketing effort even when you are busy retouching to help ensure you maintain a steady flow of work.