Creative retouching is the process of correcting or altering the original, by adding, changing or removing elements of an image that were created without permission from the copyright owner. It’s also the practice of using copyright related material as a focal point in your own images. It’s very common at photography seminars for photographers wanting to show what creative retouching is and how it can be done within their own studios.
How does it work?
There are actually two ways to get creative retouching done in Photoshop. Both are similar, with the primary differences being the tools involved.
You can either take an original image, select it, edit it in Photoshop and send it to your client that afternoon or send it back with an artist and get creative for up to 90 minutes.
With the second method of creative retouching, you create a new image by manipulating images first in Photoshop which you then send back to your client. This method is more popular, because it is much quicker and often allows for more control over the final outcome. In the majority of cases, the images that are used are images owned by either a copyright holder or are free for use, so it’s very hard to know with the tools you are using.
For example, on some stock photography sites you may be able to create a simple copy. If not, it can often be done by manipulating a photograph on another image on a site. If your client likes it then they are usually able to send it back to you and you are free to change (or remove) the original version. Alternatively, you can try something a bit more complicated like using image manipulation software or creating a separate Photoshop file for all images used.
Can I make changes to my original photograph that the copyright owner doesn’t want?
The copyright owner can request that you remove any element of their image that they find offensive, which will often happen if you create a new image, change some elements or make modifications to the original. A common request by copyright holders is that you remove the words “this was a picture of a donkey with an arrow in its forehead. I’d imagine that’s how this used to be seen.” This is a little misleading as donkey horns aren’t actually displayed on elephants, and are a common feature of real, life elephants. The use of “daddy” for the owner in the photograph is an accurate reflection of its owner.
The owner’s opinion is often more important than the words “this is
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