Retouching – the art of photo manipulation

Have you ever taken a photo for a project and thought “it’s good, but it needs to be in front of an active volcano to make sense” or “this photo...

Mandy McGregor 2019 photoshoot

Written by Stu Sutherland

29 May 2019 | 3 Minute(s) to read

Have you ever taken a photo for a project and thought “it’s good, but it needs to be in front of an active volcano to make sense” or “this photo of Queen Street is too dark, and there needs to be more cars and an elephant”. But you can’t control traffic, and where would you find an elephant at this time of year? That’s where it might be easier to consider jumping into Photoshop and skilfully retouching that image.

It’s often we receive a photo that we’re only 60% happy with. Be it the lighting, a crazy random in the background or an accidental object left in shot, we need to consider how this would affect your marketing. As a creative agency we will look at how we can make the image more impactful.

Take for example this photo of the Mountainairs’ Kevin Foster. We wanted this to look like an epic sports photo which focused on our logo on the uniform. We changed out the background, colour graded it so the yellow popped and altered the focus so that our logo stood out.  

Basketball photo manipulation

 We have also used a similar approach with our own team photo. We weren’t spoilt for choice when it came to where we could take the photo, but we wanted to have the option of changing out the background. We took the photo in the  Smokeylemon Studio, where we had enough room to get all 11 of us in a row with good lighting. We then jumped into Photoshop to clear-cut the team and added in shadows that matched the light source of the original. We then picked a background and boom, now it looks like we went to a photography studio and got our photo taken. 

Smokeylemon team photo retouch

 At Smokeylemon we have access to a number of tools that to help us get images of assets or locations we can’t shoot ourselves or it's not cost effective to shoot. Utilising 3D models which we can superimpose our own artwork onto, we are able to create striking product images that would have taken much longer to set up in a photography studio.

Image 3D models

Where a photography session just isn’t viable we can utilise stock photography to build the image we need. The New Plymouth District Council needed an image to promote responsible recycling. After they decided upon having the hands holding up the items, we found the right kind of stock image, but we needed those items to be correct by removing lids, switching out glass for aluminium and cardboard. In the end we took the photo that was 60% accurate and made it 100% accurate.

Image retouch

Using Photoshop gets a bad rap in the media due to its overuse in body manipulation in the fashion industry, but with the skilled operators we have in-house and our moral crusade to only use Photoshop for the powers of good, we can take your photography from sub-par to super!

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