Curious Minds Podcast S2: Beauty Is in the Eye of the Retoucher

It’s divisive, often kept secret, and can affect us deeply, but can retouching also be a kind of creative expression? This week we zoom in on the world of photo editing

Curious Minds is an original podcast by Domestika that explores the curiosities and untold histories of the creative world. Every two weeks, we interview renowned creatives to discover the strange and fascinating stories behind different topics: like why stop motion endures in the digital age, or why we doodle.

Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app to never miss an episode.

Curious Minds Podcast S2: Beauty Is in the Eye of the Retoucher 2

It’s no secret that the media we consume, especially when airbrushed, can have detrimental effects on our self image and perception of the world. As the conversation around body positivity and authenticity grows, companies have scrambled to make claims about “depicting real bodies”.

But editing a photo is much more than using the Liquefy Tool. It can even mean highlighting imperfections! At its core, photo retouching is the art of refining an image to reflect what a photographer or client intends. That includes color correction, removing background objects, reducing blur, and even adding fantastical elements.

Photo manipulation is almost as old as photography itself, and for centuries painters have also played with reality in their work. But even if most of us know this in theory, when we see certain edited images we often can’t help but believe them. In this episode we talk about why we manipulate images, talk ethics and responsibility, and see how trends and evolving standards are impacting creativity.

Click on the link below to listen and subscribe on Spotify. Alternatively, you can find the episode on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Season 2, Episode 6: Beauty Is in the Eye of the Retoucher

This week on the podcast, we speak with four experts to shine a light on the realities of retouching: Shachar Aylon, Brittabug, Zoë Noble, and Adam Wiseman.

Shachar Aylon is an executive creative director at Picsart, a creative design platform and community. He sees photo retouching not as a trend itself, but as an essential step of the photography process, which has trends happening within it. He also theorizes that the reason it’s such a hot topic now is because of increased sophistication combined with increased accessibility: anyone can manipulate images now. “The more we rely on visual ways to communicate," he says, "the more people want to influence how they come across”.

Brittabug (@brittabug on Instagram) is a photographer and 3D artist known for ethereal self-portraits. She stresses the importance of being inclusive of all ways you can edit a photo, and tries to approach retouching as an art form. Brittabug has even heard from clients that retouching helped their self-esteem: a subtle editing approach allowed them to see themselves in a new way.

Retouching can add personality to our photos. Gif by Maja Dabek with imagery by Marioly Vázquez (@cestmaria).

Zoë Noble is a photographer, retoucher, and educator who's passionate about "natural retouching”. For her, retouching can make an image more visually appealing, improving color and focal points. That said, she also highlights the need to be aware that photography is itself a fantasy world, with “elements of fakery in it”—and that’s a part of the creative process.

Finally, Adam Wiseman is a freelance photographer and senior lecturer of commercial photography at the University of East London, who once worked as a darkroom printer at the prestigious Magnum Photos. He reflects on the history of photography, noting that even black and white photos can be retouched with chlorine, small brushes, and other tools. For him, it’s all about intentional decisions, because imperfections communicate personality and uniqueness.

Listen and subscribe to the Curious Minds podcast

Remember, to stay up to date with every episode, you can subscribe to Curious Minds for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app.

If you'd like to discover more stories behind curiosities of the creative world we often take for granted, explore all the episodes from Curious Minds on our blog.

Add a touch of magic to your own photography process

If you’ve been inspired by this week’s podcast and want to bring intention and creativity to your photography, here’s some further reading to get started.

1. Whether you’re professional or amateur, tune your retouching knowledge with six tutorials on photo editing.

2. Explore our backlog of podcast episodes, and learn why so many artists create self-portraits?

3. Up your selfie and self-portrait skills with these four free tutorials.

4. Discover how to bring portraits to life with Photoshop with Xi Chen’s course, Beauty Retouching for Beginners.

5. Or try your hand at Lightroom for Mobile, with this course on Preset Design by Marioly Vázquez

Recommended courses

Introduction to Adobe Photoshop. Design, Photography, and Video course by Carles Marsal
Domestika Basics · 5 courses

Introduction to Adobe Photoshop

A course by Carles Marsal

Learn Adobe Photoshop from scratch and master the best software for treatment, retouching and creation of digital images on the market

  • 337526
  • 100% (9.5K)
75% Disc.
Content Creation and Editing for Instagram Stories. Marketing, Business, Photography, and Video course by Mina Barrio

Content Creation and Editing for Instagram Stories

A course by Mina Barrio

Discover the secrets of photography and video to find success on Instagram

  • 217735
  • 98% (5.8K)
75% Disc.
Professional Photography for Instagram. Photography, Video, Marketing, and Business course by Mina Barrio

Professional Photography for Instagram

A course by Mina Barrio

Learn tricks to take and edit photographs for social media on your phone

  • 243771
  • 99% (10K)
75% Disc.

Log in or sign up to comment

Get Domestika's news delivered to your inbox