Introducing Gerry Kingsley
Gerry Kingsley is a Canadian commercial and contemporary portrait photographer. His clients range from artists, authors, politicians, actors, models, and other public figures.
His style can best be described as in editorial portraiture with a cinematic look. Gerry prefers to tell a story with one and every image he takes
Gerry co-runs Studio Nine Eight in Sudbury, does write for Retouching Academy and teaches photography at Thorneloe University.
His portfolio perfectly demonstrates his editorial style and cinematic look: please, have a look at Gerry’s work!
Let’s Talk Retouching! #1 – Our Topics:
Do We Retouchers Need A Style?
The first topic I have been discussing with Gerry was if a retoucher needs his or her own style in order to get work or to be taken seriously in the industry.
Gerry is convinced it is a two-part thing. For once it surely is advantageous to have a style. However, some photographers might not have their own style and therefore demand a retoucher’s creative input to create a visual style for the job. When it comes to hiring a retoucher he thinks it definitely helps to stand out from competitors but he would also want to know if a retoucher can take his work to another level, add creative input, and still work cohesively within the style he has himself.
In my personal opinion, we need to be flexible with our style to satisfy our client’s needs. This often means to not apply our own style and taste but to work with them and to also adjust to their style and taste.
We can both agree your skills and craft has to be top level to keep up with the industry. Just being a one trick pony might get you a food into the door but won’t help you for very long.
Your Passion Is Your Asset!
The conversation has continued into talking about how we might stylistically want to brand ourselves and our business.
You Have To Be Good For Yourself!
We both could agree on just being a retoucher is not good enough. You need to understand photography, lighting and the creative process of advertising.
Your portfolio represents your passion. It is your asset and demonstrates the type of work you want to get booked for and therefore should be cohesive and demonstrate your skills and creativity.
Getting Involved With The Creative Team
Working commercially means to work as a team. However, as a retoucher, you are not always super involved. It will help you a lot to understand the processes going on in the commercial world, struggles on set, and your client’s needs in terms of key factors to sell their ideas and products.
You also have to be willing to invest in making a connection with the other team members even if they are not the paying client. It will benefit the overall outcome. The information you can gain from other team members can be extremely important throughout the process.
Ask The Right Questions!
Don’t assume you know everything or that the client has told you everything you know to complete the job in the best possible way. Don’t be shy about getting back to your clients and ask job-related questions. For one, it will help you to get your pricing right and realistically judge the time you might need for the job’s completion. Meeting deadlines is important!
Asking your client the right questions will also help you to establish a professional business relationship and make you appear more worthy for the money they pay and look more professional as you might even be able to educate them on a few things along in the process.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate,….
Another tip I can give to retouchers is to always communicate with your clients. Talk with them about the procedure of retouching. Make sure you know about the deadlines. And yes, deadlines. Plural. Not only is it important to deliver finals in time but to also arrange revision rounds or even first looks for your client to give feedback early on in the process.
This approach can save you from having to do more work but also is reassuring your client that he or she is taken care of in the best possible way.
Outsourcing Retouching Work
Gerry tells about his way of handling the process before outsourcing images to have them retouched. He describes building reference boards off of a creative brief he had with his client and takes it from there to communicate stylistics for the project with a retoucher. This can be along with his personal style ideas but can also be highly influenced by what his client’s expectations and needs are.
A reference board is usually a good way to communicate the goals in terms of color and styles in a comprehensive and visual way, making sure everyone is on the same page.
If you as a retoucher, get a job offer with a potential client that is not used to such a process, please, make sure to get this kind of information. It comes down to what we discussed earlier: ask the right questions and don’t be afraid to ask.
Again, not having such information might set you up for failure and lose a client. Your client will always expect for you to deliver results to their expectations. However, if you need information you have to educate them that the missing information is necessary for you to do your job right. It will give you control about the conversation and make your life easier to deliver perfect results. In the worst case, it can help you to prove that you have met all the requirements of a job, which you hopefully do not have to.