Image retouching is an industry all its own. Often, outsourcing the retouching process can be costly and, for a photographer, can feel like giving away your own child, after having gone through the process of creating the image that was captured while holding the camera. It’s true that the image is made when the camera’s shutter fires, but I think it’s safe to say that a captured image is seldom, if ever, the image that anybody will ever see.
Where photography is concerned, there are basic tools of the trade. A camera, lenses, memory cards, perhaps lighting equipment, etc. are all some of the basic tools to be able to capture the image; but where retouching is concerned, there are a whole other set of tools involved. I have my go-to tools but often heard from other photographers that a Wacom tablet was a must. “I don’t know how you can edit without one” is what I would hear.
In a nutshell, a tablet is a stylus with digital tablet that is used to replace the mouse or touch pad of a computer to make image retouching faster and more precise. The idea sounded good, but I never really felt like I had enough of a reason to take the leap. That was until I tracked my retouching time and found that I had spent 17 hours editing a high school senior’s images. It was a monster number that I wouldn’t have imagined had I not actually tracked my time. It was finally time to look towards shaving some hours off of the retouching process.
I did my research and made my decision on what to buy. So with credit card in hand, I placed my order and continued doing my retouching in the only way that I knew how. A few days later, my order arrived.
My new tool sat on my dining room table for a couple of days as I walked past it thinking “I don’t have time to learn to use it right now”. With a handful of sessions waiting for my attention, I focused on reducing my workload. After a week and a half I decided it was time for my tablet and I to be properly introduced.
I got everything ready in my all-to-familiar editing chair. I opened an image to experiment with and started pushing some buttons and moving my stylus around. What seemed like an easy concept turned out to be like learning a new language. I knew what to do with the stylus, but the buttons and wheel on the side of the tablet confused me. I pushed buttons just to see what they did, and then clicked the undo keystrokes on my keyboard. Then I realized there was a helpful instruction screen.
Suddenly it made sense. Imagine that: instructions helping out the learning process.
I spent a bit more time pushing buttons and learning to use the stylus, but felt the progress to be slow. It isn’t that my new tool wasn’t helpful. It’s just that I hadn’t yet gotten the hang of it. I went on to edit without the tablet until I felt like I had made some progress, and again, went back to some more training.
So far I’ve spent about 2 days of editing time using the tablet, and it’s challenging. But at least now, I feel like I’m starting to understand a few basic features. Already I’ve found that I can do some things faster while other things are a bit slower. But there’s still hope.
Delivering great images is still the goal, but I’m all for doing it faster and even better if it’s possible. But what does it really mean for you, my client. Nothing, really. My retouching process isn’t something that anybody should see, but I want to make sure that you get to see your images while you’re still excited about your session.
So when you schedule your portrait session you can know that I will be working hard to create a great experience for you from the moment that we first talk about your session to the moment you hang your portraits on your wall.