What are the Career Options available for Photo Retouching Professionals?

What are the Career Options available for Photo Retouching Professionals?
22 Mar 2017

Career Options available for Photo Retouching Professionals

Photography is still a largely untapped industry albeit one that is very competitive and made even more so by the proliferation of inexpensive digital cameras and smart phones that have just as good camera capabilities and the increase of photofinishing software that has made it relatively easy for anyone to try their hand at photography. However photography is the easy part and a career in photography will require a lot more than just taking good pictures. Ansel Adams, one of the most renowned photographers in the world, actually said that you don’t take a photograph instead you make it. Photo retouching and editing professionals can therefore rest easy since there are plenty of careers and specializations in photography if you are willing to put in the work.

There are three main business models that a career in retouching can take: remote freelancing, on site or working in-house at a company. In any of these business models you can work as a graphics or web designer, photographer, TV camera operator, magazine features editor, film/video editor, digital marketer, medical illustrator, advertising art director, media planner, visual merchandiser, digital media specialists or even consultancy with a wide range of employment opportunities in terms of employers and job opportunities such as advertising agencies, Fashion Retouching Services for modeling agencies, printing agencies, corporate branding and image consulting and multimedia production agencies. The financial rewards will vary depending on the specialty you choose from between $25,000 and $45,000 or more once you create a brand for yourself. This is in fact just a tip of the iceberg as your specialty will determine which niche to get into and whether you will work in a freelance capacity, in-house as part of a department or pick a more flexible option such as working on site.

If you are going to become an independent photo retoucher, working remotely from home as a freelancer, you will need a good workstation to ensure your finished product looks professional and reliable software. You will also need the right infrastructure to handle large files and a growing clientele. Choose an internet provider with high upload speeds and one that can support a private server or a transfer service to allow you to transfer large files. Starting as a freelance photo retoucher will be hard and you will need a strong online presence and good portfolio.

Working in-house provides stability but also requires more conventional education skills and work experience. You will therefore need a degree in photography and extensive work experience especially for a larger firm no matter what photo retouching services they may require from you. When seeking work update your skills with all retouching equipment and software and do your homework on retouching terminology for the workforce you are about to join. Prepare to work with a team and have to share equipment and files so ensure you are well versed on the equipment and all relevant file sharing and transferring services.

On-site photo retouching careers are however the most flexible and the most fun as you get to work with different people and learn different skills from photographing for different fashion trends, influencing the end product either through fashion retouching or other services and is an excellent way to network. In this capacity you can monitor the output you are getting from the camera and your photographer, treat shots in RAW software which can make it easier for you to create clipping paths and provide any other input or change anything that may affect the retouching process.


Before choosing a specialty to get into, you need to build your Portfolio of Photo Retouching Service either through work experience or by volunteering to develop your skills and give you an edge in the competitive industry. These opportunities are available in various creative careers even as assistants. This also helps you build your interpersonal skills which will be critical for your career progression. It can be instrumental in getting you gigs as a freelance artist or make it easier for your role in a company when dealing with other stakeholders like local ad companies. Photography has the power to change your social, creative or cultural understanding even as you develop in the technical know-how. It takes passion, learning, hard work and lots of practice especially with the ever changing computer imaging software that is a staple for a photo retoucher, to get ahead in your chosen career and professional diligence will help keep your clients coming back.


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