Argiris Maipas is a professional retoucher specialized in Beauty and Fashion retouch. He has been working in post production for about 12 years and is offering his services worldwide with the latest industry standards and software. He is the owner of the:

Catalina: We asked the amazing Argiris Maipas what would help the beginning Photo Retouchers in the industry:

I would first recommend honing their skills to a level they are happy with before starting to search for clients. They should spend a few months of trial and Tf , find their own style and do a good workflow that can help them to save time during work. Read all the well-known fashion magazines and every single article about editing, even if they think that its not for them… one day it may help them… knowledge is everything! What is needed in our business is a strong understanding of fashion and beauty photography! You cannot retouch photos if you don’t understand the light, camera, etc. A relation with arts helps also. If you can draw, is a big help to your work! Understanding of color is also very important. Don’t accept work you cannot handle…just wait for the time when you will be ready. Things such as, missing deadlines and making excuses are not tolerated. Don’t care for the physical distance of your client; you just need a fast internet connection, regardless the place or country where you live. Put your work on as many social websites as possible. You never know who may see your work there!

Catalina: For those whom don`t know, what is a Photo Retoucher?

A photo retoucher is a specialist who takes the original photo and improves the image using certain techniques. Photo retouchers mainly work with digital formats and provide services for photographers, production companies and agencies. The retoucher is the postshooting improver on a photo, before it is shown to the public. Every fashion and beauty photographer has a retoucher behind him and most times a retoucher is invisible to the industry.

Catalina: I used your services a few times before and I`ve always been more than happy with the results. For me, you are “the best investment” that a photographer can have. What is your opinion on this industry? Is there a lot of competition?

What happened in the Fashion industry around the end of 90’s till the end of 00’s, when the photoshop appeared in the business, was a general interest for perfect skin and bodies. This is not what is being asked today. There is now a return to more natural standards and more physical photos with emphasis on color, atmosphere and feeling. The marketing in retouching is difficult! The final product is not a 100% depended on me, but it is mainly depended on the source material that I’m getting every time. It is not a product made from scratch, so the resulting final product is a combination of the photographers’ skills and eye, the models, the shooting team, the brand and finally my lonely work in front of a computer screen. Recently I read in an article that there is a percentage of one freelance retoucher to every one hundred of freelance photographers. According to this, there is not a lot of competition. What I believe should be the real concern for a retoucher is the improvement of himself in order to become better day by day. This will provide him with the luxury of finding better clients and to work more selectivity and as a result to build a good portfolio. Working with the best photographers makes your work become more valuable!

Catalina: Why is it important for a photographer to hire a great Photo Retoucher like yourself?

Having an appealing image can make a huge impact on your career.

Catalina: Why do some people criticize Photoshop users and are obstinately opposed to post processing their images?

Today there is not even one photo in this industry without a touch on it. Photoshop is the medium to make the photo better. Of course, there is a matter of the retouchers’ work quality. The right use of photoshop from a professional gives a better photo; the bad use gives a bad photo. It depends on the use of an instrument. You may have the knife to slice the bread, but you may also use it to kill someone…This does not mean that the knife is a bad thing! I believe that a lot of people criticize post processing because they don’t really know what it actually is. The truth is that, it is not the post processing itself that is being criticized by the photographers, but the bad use of it. The goal is to make fake look real and not real look fake. Everyone can buy a Photoshop version and name himself a retoucher, everyone can buy a camera and name himself a photographer, can`t he? Speaking for myself, I say that after 12 years in digital world, I’m still learning… We have added the verb, “photoshopped” in our language. I disagree with this term. It took me about ten days to work on a photo in a darkroom followed by corrections with brushes. What technology has achieved is that with photoshop, it only takes five hours for the same thing! There is a huge time saving on retouching!

Catalina: How many hours of retouching does a beauty portrait take for you to finish?

Depending on the photo and the use, the usual time for a beauty portrait is 2-4 hours. Of course, in the case of an advertising photo, this may take several hours to be done.

Catalina: Did you ever regret sending a client the image and wishing you could`ve fixed it better or more?

No. Sometimes when I go back and look at old works of mine, I may say to myself that today I can do this or that in a different way or in a different style. But never better, just different. Of course for someone else, different may be better, but the contrary is also possible!

Catalina: Do you make the decisions on how the image should be edited? Or does the photographer give you a detailed description of how he/she wants the image to be edited?

Most of my clients trust my opinion for their shots. We cooperate for years, so I know their taste and style. Of course things can change depending on the project…Sometimes when I deal with new clients, I have to discover their taste, especially when clients already have a specific direction in mind. Nevertheless, most times I don’t need instructions for obvious things.

Catalina: What kind of Photoshop tricks could you share with us?

There are no tricks but methods. To give a good contrast, we can use Photoshop in several ways such as curves and levels. As professionals, we use selectively masks in highlights – shadows. The relationship between highlights and shadows is a critical aspect of any image. A quick tip is to use the ‘unsharp mask’ tool more creatively and gave a good contrast. Try this: bring up Photoshop’s unsharp mask dialog (filter->sharpen->unsharp mask). Now select a very high radius, 180-220px and a small amount, 15-20% . Selecting such values will only “sharpen” your picture as a side effect , the main effect will be increased contrast. The photo now is quite contrasty with a good histogram and a good depth . This method is great for removing the milky curtain underexposed pictures we sometimes may have.

Catalina: In this new world of digital technology, is it hard to find clients?

Post processing is not something new. It is a part of photography and has started in the early years of photography. Famous photographers like Anshel Adams became famous from the darkroom work on their photos. Even today, we cannot achieve the tones on BW that Anshel Adams did 80 years ago. What has changed today is the medium, the equipment (photoshop)…the point and the reasons are the same…A better photo! It is not so hard to find clients today. The internet helps a lot because, as retouchers, we don’t need the physical connection with the photographer. So, I can do works for photographer in Japan or USA, although I live in Europe!

Catalina: Have you encountered any unprofessional clients? How did you deal with the situation?

They always exist. I usually notice them from the beginning of the cooperation and most of the times, I stop the deal before it starts. It is a waste of time to try cooperating with someone that speaks a different language!
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